A Vegetarian Diet provides all the nutrients a human body needs
However, a wide variety of foods should be consumed to acquire the nutritional requirements. A vegetarian diet supplies a higher intake of fiber, folic acid, vitamins, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and phytochemicals. This results in vegetarians having lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
Vegetarianism is a phenomenon that is catching up world over. Vegetarianism has always been associated most highly with Indians, considering their large Hindu following. Being vegetarian has its own benefits-
1) Easy digestibility of vegetarian food and it’s high fiber content makes it very healthy for your digestive system.
2) Vegetarian food contains no cholesterol, hence it is more heart-friendly as opposed to cholesterol rich non-veg sources.
3) Higher water and fiber content of most vegetables helps in relieving constipation thus keeping intestinal flora clean and healthy.
4) The lower heat production of vegetarian foods keeps your mind and body cool & calmer as opposed to meat eaters.
5) Gives excellent results with weight loss as the fat content of most vegetables is lesser than meat.
6) Low Biological Value protein and less B12 content of vegetarian food may not boost your metabolism as much as protein rich non –veg sources do, unless fortified sufficiently along with additional physical activity
Some vegetarians are forced to eat eggs and other non vegetarian food so that the protein intake is more. Here it’s important to realised that a vegetarian diet can provide the human body with the protein it needs. When consuming protein, the Biological Value (BV) of that particular food item should be kept in mind. The higher the BV, the better the absorption. Animal Meat has a higher BV than Plant protein but the BV of Dairy produce is also high. In Vegetarian options the High BV foods would list all dairy sources such as milk, curds, cottage cheese , in addition soyabean, edamame, mushroom, legumes such as green peas, corn, rajma, chana and next come your sprouts, lentils etc. However, there is absolutely no reason to force any Vegetarian to eat Non-Veg to meet their requirements and there are numerous ways to achieve good lean muscle tone with the right balance of vegetarian food.
Many individuals and families adopt Vegetarianism as a popular lifestyle. For parents, the common concern is if kids get all their necessary nutrients from a vegetarian diet and may even force their kids to eat eggs. One must realise that the nutritional needs of children change as they grow and the highest need for children now is fibre. Kids are fed milk right from birth followed by combinations such as dal-rice, paneer, curds, cheese and whole lot of dairy based products which are already high on protein. Where they highly lack is fibre, include plenty of fruits, salads, whole grains & other fibre rich sources of vitamins & minerals to meet their needs now. A child on a balanced healthy vegetarian diet does not need to to be force-fed non-veg. Skim milk & low fat paneer are the best substitutes for egg whites in growing children.
Article in The Afternoon Despatch & Courier 17th October 2016