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If You Go Vegetarian, Vegan, Lacto-Vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian

  “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution    to a vegetarian diet”.
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)                                                                                       
There are a number of reasons why someone would choose to go vegetarian. One can be because of religion, as some beliefs forbid eating animals. Another reason can be for ethical reasons, as many people simply love animals and cannot imagine ever killing them for food. Others simply do it for health reasons. If you’re going vegetarian, you should know what you’re doing. Going vegetarian is healthy, but you should also know how to get the proper amounts of nutrition without meats (and in some cases, without eggs and dairy) should you decide to do so. There are three types of vegetarian diets, namely: vegan diets which does not permit the consumption of meats, poultry and fish as well as eggs dairy and any products made of these; lacto-vegetarian diets which does not permit the consumption of meats, poultry, eggs and fish but allows milk, and dairy; and lacto-ovo vegetarian which does not permit consumption of meats, poultry and fish but allows eggs and dairy products.

In order to get the right nutrition from a vegetarian diet is to incorporate many different types of food in your diet. A limited variety of food cannot supply you with all the nutrition that you need so keep it varied. If you decide to become a vegetarian, you need to consciously make sure that your diet will contain adequate amounts of the following nutrients:

Calcium—the most important source of calcium is milk, so going vegan might restrict your calcium intake without this. Alternative sources of calcium include dark green vegetables like kale, collard greens, and broccoli. You can also look for products that are calcium fortified such as soy milk, tofu and juices.

Iodine—iodine is an important part of the diet because it is a component of the thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone regulates body functions such as metabolism as well as development of organs. Iodine is present in abundant amounts in seafood, but since seafood is restricted in vegetarian diets, you might not get enough iodine from natural sources. An easy and convenient alternative is to use iodized salt in seasoning food, and a quarter of a teaspoon’s serving a day is sufficient.

Iron—iron is important for the blood’s health. Iron from plant derived sources is not as easily absorbed by the body, so a vegetarian’s iron intake from plants should be twice that of a non vegetarian. You can find this in beans, peas, lentils, dark green and leafy vegetables as well as fruits (dried and fresh). Experts advise vegetarians to consume vitamin C with iron rich foods to aid in absorption.

Omega 3 fatty acids—omega 3 fatty acids are insufficient in diets that do not contain eggs and fish. Omega 3 is essential in preventing cardiovascular diseases as well as for the development of the brain and the eyes. Vegans are advised to look for omega 3 fortified products as well as supplements.

Proteins—fortunately, proteins can also be found in abundance even without meats and eggs. Find your protein in soy products, meat substitutes, lentils and dried beans.

Vitamin B12—it is quite hard to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans, especially if they take in a lot of folate which tends to mask symptoms of the deficiency until the damage is serious. Vitamin B12 is usually found in animal sources, so vegans might want to take supplements and vitamin fortified products.

Zinc—zinc is essential in the formation of proteins and cell division. Zinc is can be found in both plant and animal products, but it is also not as readily absorbed if taken from plants. If you eat dairy, then you can get zinc from cheese. However, if you eat exclusively plant products, you could eat whole grains, legumes, nuts and soy products for your dose of zinc.