What Every Vegetarian Should Know


Having been a vegetarian for 16 years, I thought it would be a good idea to share my personal experiences with you. In this post, I will point out what I consider the most crucial information that every vegetarian should be aware of.

I've never been on a raw diet, but I was vegan for about a year. At the moment, I consume milk once a day and generally eat 3-5 eggs per week. My intention is to give up the eggs, in the near future.

I simply don't like the idea that the hens, where I live in Thailand, chiefly feed on insects. In my world, killing should be avoided at any cost.

Before we start out, I would like to cover some general advice.

Vary your diet as much as possible. For instance, don't eat potatoes with every meal and do not limit yourself to any single fruit or vegetable. I have a few fruits and vegetables with most meals.

Leafy greens are high in chlorophyll, try it with raw garlic.

The more uncooked fruits and vegetables you eat, the more enzymes you get.

Finally, it is not recommended for males to consume large amounts of soy products. That includes soy beans, soy protein powder, textured soy protein, soy milk, tofu and miso. The reason being, that there is a compound in soy beans called isoflavones, which is similar to the female hormone estrogen.

Proteins


The cells cannot function without protein.

Vegetarians don't get the same quality protein as meat eaters, the possible exceptions being dairy products and eggs. As a result, it's a must to be familiar with the 8 essential amino acids. In short, you should eat foods that are high in an amino acid called lysine, which is readily available in sesame seeds, peanuts, beans and lentils.

For example, when you eat brown rice and beans or peanut butter sandwiches, you get plenty of lysine. I strongly encourage you to learn the basics about the 8 essential amino acids and to eat enough food that is high in lysine.

To make sure that you have sufficient protein in your diet, keep protein in mind every time you prepare a meal.

Iron


After having been a vegetarian for 10-12 years, I became anemic. That is to say, there isn't enough hemoglobin in the blood, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.

When you are anemic, your face looks pale and you feel physically weak. It's good to know, that iron plays an important role in the production of hemoglobin, which is housed in the red blood cells.

As a vegetarian, you should do regular health check-ups to be certain that your iron levels and overall health is good. Note that I wrote iron levels, in plural. In addition to the hemoglobin, which is found in the blood, iron is also stored in the liver, as ferritin.

The iron that is saved for later use, is referred to as iron stores. Please note, that it takes significantly longer to improve your iron stores than the hemoglobin.

It's vital to know that certain foods inhibit the body's ability to absorb iron, the worst inhibitor is calcium. Hence, avoid taking iron tablets with milk or other high calcium foods.

At the same time, it's really easy to boost the body's ability to absorb iron. The key to improved absorption is vitamin C, which doubles as an antioxidant. Anti-anemic tablets normally contain vitamin B as well, which supports iron absorption.

Personally, I maintain my already high levels of iron by taking a minute amount of iron supplement once a day.




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Calcium


The bones get brittle when there is a shortage of calcium in the diet.

Calcium is found in high concentrations in dairy products and leafy green veggies. An important reminder, do not combine iron tablets with high calcium foods.

Some foods are calcium fortified, such as soy milk and breakfast cereals.

A calcium supplement is a safe approach to ensure that you get enough of the mineral.

Vitamin B12


Vitamin B12 deficiency results in weakness and can adversely affect the nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is mainly stored in the liver.

Vegetarian foods that contain vitamin B12 include milk, egg and chlorella. Remember that many foods are fortified with vitamin B12. Further, it is often found in anti-anemic tablets.

If you are unsure whether you are getting enough B12, consider taking a supplement. Typically, vitamin B12 supplements contain folic acid.

It's wonderful to be a vegetarian. Vegetarian food is generally easier to digest than meat and it is very low in cholesterol. What is more, you can eat it with a clear conscience. That is all good, but make sure that your body gets enough protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B12.

Best of luck!





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