To Be Vegetarian Doesn’t Mean To Be Healthy

What happens when somebody decides to change their diet to a vegetarian, vegan or even a raw food diet? This is a really good question. It actually depends very much on the individual. If the person has been on a typical SAD diet (Standard American Diet of high (trans) fat, high sugar (soda), high animal protein, high starch, minimal or non-existent fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and natural fats) then it is highly probable that in transitioning, he will bring along these bad nutritional habits and seek the same type of diet but simply without the animal products.

He will most likely choose processed fake meat alternatives in place of the animal products such as vegetarian/vegan sausages, burgers, fake meat slices, tofu, tempeh, etc. He will continue the high starch, high fat and minimal fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and natural fats.

Will this person feel better on this diet? Yes, but very minimally. Why? Because he is still eating a high processed, high fat diet. Regardless of whether the fat comes from animal sources or vegetarian/vegan sources, it’s still processed fat.

A vegetarian diet may only consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potato chips, fried foods, and very little fresh produce.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely high in vitamins, minerals and yes, even calcium and protein!

Although most fruits are high in calories and sugar, it is natural and not a processed sugar which is harmful to the body, especially in high quantities as in the SAD diet. Fruits have the highest percentage of vitamins per calorie of any class of foods, are mostly alkalizing, and help control our sugar cravings and appetite by sending an instant message to the brain that our blood sugar levels are rising.

Fresh vegetables have the highest percentage of minerals of any class of foods, are high in protein (green leafy vegetables such as kale are 50% protein) calcium and fiber. They are also low in calories making them perfect for those who need to control their weight.

Natural fats such as avocado, olive, nuts and seeds contain good fats which help lower cholesterol and move fatty deposits out of the clogged arteries back into the blood stream and out of the body through elimination. Nuts and seeds are also a rich source of protein as well as other nutrients such as omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. For ease of digestion and increased nutrition, nuts and seeds should be soaked to release the enzyme inhibitors naturally occurring in them.

Moderation and balance is the key to any successful diet. Meat alternatives are great in place of animal products, particularly for those who are transitioning to a vegetarian/vegan diet, yet they should not be the major part of the new diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be eaten the most. Nuts and seeds should be eaten but in moderation given that they do contain fat, although it is a good fat. Grains, especially whole grains and seeds such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet are extremely nutritious and provide lots of energy and protein. Processed grains, on the other hand, provide very little nutritional content. Starches should also be eaten but in moderation.

The other very important factor for a healthy diet is water. Since our body is 60-70% water, we need to drink lots of water to keep our body healthy and functioning at optimum levels. If you are wondering how much water to drink, half the body weight in water is a good estimate. Fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely high in water, making them perfect choices for hydration, nutrients and health.

So, next time you sit down to eat your meal, have a look at what is on your plate and whether it is helping you to improve your health and well-being.

By Laura