Vegetarianism: The Next Big Thing

by Nazreth Yemane There are a variety of reasons people become vegetarians. They include religious or spiritual beliefs, concern for personal health, sympathy for animals, and many others. What is a vegetarian? Predominantly a vegetarian is one who does not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Many vegetarians will eat animal products but avoid things like lard, gelatin, chicken and beef stock. A vegetarians diet will mainly consist of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. I chose to become a vegetarian partially because of religious beliefs and my own food preferences. My mother is from Eritrea and growing up it was the belief of her family that they would not eat any animal with hooves, so growing up my mother did not allow us to eat pork. As I grew up, I gradually cut out all red meat from my diet and years later I cut out chicken. I do how ever still eat fish on occasion. There are many advantages of a vegetarian diet. As stated by the ADA, vegetarians are at a lower risk of developing:

-Heart disease
-Ovarian and breast cancer
-Diabetes -Obesity
-High blood pressure
Not all vegetarian diets are healthy, if it includes an extreme amount of fatty foods, friends foods, eggs and whole milk dairy products they diet would be very high in fat. A vegetarian diet is no different than any other healthy diet, it must be well planned so to protect you from certain diseases. As many advantages as there are to becoming a vegetarian there are also some health risks. These health risks include:
-Inadequate Vitamin B-12 intake
-Inadequate iron intake
-Inadequate calcium intake
-Inadequate Vitamin D intake
The only reason these health risks wold occur is because you are not creating a well-balanced diet. To receive all the necessary nutrients you must manage a health balanced diet and carefully plan your menus so you gain all the necessary nutrients. The only minor health risk I have encountered since becoming a vegetarian is anemia. When my doctor confirmed I was anemic, which is likely in many young women, I knew this meant I wasn't getting enough iron. Here are a few sources I turned to increase my iron intake:
-Lentils, cooked
-Navy/Pinto/Kidney beans, cooked
-Soybeans, cooked
-Pumpkin seeds
-Sunflower seeds
-Prunes
Vegetarian meals are very satisfying. Making the transition to becoming a vegetarian is simple. Here are some tips in making a smooth transition:
-Consult your physician, incase of any health concerns
-Research recipes, and ways to obtain certain nutrients
-Purchase a vegetarian cookbook and practice the recipes finding what you like and don't like-Start planning healthy well-balanced meals
-Remember to keep your eye on our weight and health. If your body is rapidly changing, your losing weight, or feel tired then your diet may not be balanced.
Here is a healthy well-balanced vegetarian meal that I would consume any day.
Breakfast: Cereal with soy milk, and an apple
Snack: Handful of almonds
Lunch: Bowl vegetable soup, pita bread and hummus
Dinner: Vegetarian chili, mixed green salad with balsamic dressing
Snack: Handful of almonds
As you I first became a vegetarian I researched a lot of vegetarian products and recipes and came across many. My favorite for many years has been www.vegcooking.com. It's a great website that answers so many questions and is filled with a wide variety of recipes from many ethnic backgrounds. Here are a few of my favorite quick and easy recipes:
15-Minute Black-Bean Soup
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

5-Minute Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
  • Dry pasta (enough for 2 people)
  • 3/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Carrot Ginger Soup
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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