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Author Topic: vegetarianism
twentysix
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i've been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for a few days now, after feeling a little grossed out about how much meat i consumed on a daily basis. i suppose the next couple of weeks will be my "trial" period, and i'll figure out what exactly this new diet will entail. my mom isn't too happy about it, and keeps trying to convince me that without meat, i'm missing out on so many important factors that make a well-balanced meal. she is willing to help me out, however. i know you can get protein from beans, but what else is there aside from supplements? is there much else i should worry about? any other resources you could direct me to is greatly appreciated.
Posts: 86 | From: california | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
caribbeandiver
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I'm vegan and have been for years now. You actually consume much more protein than you need from animal products and it has the reverse affect on your body. Food such as beans and soy product are really all of the protein you need. As long as you keep a balanced diet and don't fall into eating junk food or processed foods just because they're "vegetarian" you should be just fine. A really good website is goveg.org. You can request a "go veg starter kit" that has facts about protein, nutriance, and the poitive environmental affects of being a vegetarian. This also has suggetions for meals and the best brands of soy products.
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feefiefofemme
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I've been ovo-lacto for going on three years now, and the point I really want to stress is: soy, soy, and more soy! Some of the soy or veggie meat substitutes really aren't that bad (though I would recommend staying away from veggie hot dogs. I have yet to see a good brand, and some of them are green on the inside. [Eek!] Plus they smell to high heaven.) Also, things like fruit smoothies with a little bit of protien powder mixed in are very yummy. In addition, I eat a lot of stews and things. My mum has this one recipie for artichoke stew and it is to DIE for... There are endless delicious vegetarian stews and soups out there, and they're (mostly) easy to make and keep for a long time.

Anywho, especially as you're ovo-lacto, you should be fine. Caribbeandiver is right, the amount of protien you consume as a meat eater actually causes you to lose bone mass. Being vegetarian can be a lot healthier, providing that you don't substitute bread products and sweets for meat. As my mum is always saying to me, "don't become a bagel-arian!" Eat lots of veggies and all that good stuff.

(P.S. A note of reassurance: The change of diet can be hard at first. I know for the first few months, I found myself craving meat almost constantly. Now, nearly three years later, just the thought of meat is absolutely repulsive to me. Although I haven't quite conquered my desire for my mum's beef stew, things really do get easier as time goes on. If you really want to do this, stick with it through the cravings! Everything turns out all right in the end.)

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Saint_Sithney
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It's best to do a trial period when switching your diet so drastically. Some people are genetically predisposed to process protiens at very high rate, and therefore, a vegetarian or vegan diet is unhealthy for them. Some people process protien quite slowly, and can satisfy all their nutritional needs without meat.

For example, my family tends to process protien at a very fast rate. My father, sister, and I all have diets very high in protien, and feel our absolute best when we have a heavy protien boost.

On the other hand, a very good friend of mine went vegetarian about two years ago, and has been looking and feeling great. She just doesn't need that much protien in her system to maintain function. I have another good friend who was raised vegetarian, but she's been feeling better and looking healthier since she added moderate amounts of meat to her diet.

After a few weeks you should be able to tell which category you fall under, or if you fall somewhere in the middle. Some signs to watch out for:

-Sick, weak feelings and dizziness
-Skin looking ashy and flaking often
-Hair feeling brittle and shedding often

If you notice any of those symptoms, check your vitamin levels. If they're okay for a person of your height and build, you may need to either take supplements or introduce small amounts of meat back into your diet. Remember, no diet is right for everyone- no two humans are genetically the same, so how could their dietary needs be perfectly the same? Experiment with what diet makes you feel healthiest, and what you enjoy eating the most. And don't commit yourself fully to a dietary lifestyle until you know how it affects you personally.

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Karybu
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It's actually not true that a good vegetarian/vegan diet is lacking in protein. Human beings can get all the protein they need from plant sources, or if they're lacto-ovo, from dairy as well.

The problem most people run into is that they cut out meat and don't replace it with anything. Obviously, then, they're going to be lacking in protein. But if you make sure to replace the protein you're not getting from meat with protein from plant sources, it's fine.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Heather
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Actually, Sithney, the human body often has had a harder time digesting/assimilating many animal-based sources of protein than plant-based sources (especially such as in tofu or steamed greens), so you've actually got that a bit backwards. Over time, it's been suggested by nutritionists that very carnivorous diets -- which the average American diet often is -- is changing that, making people's bodies less able to readily digest plant sources, but that's certainly something one'd want to repair, since a diet that is mostly about meat isn't healthy, period.

Veggies who, when they ate meat and/or cheese, ate mostly that are almost inevitably going to be healthier if they really DO take up a balanced veggie diet, because that meat and cheese isn't giving you the vitamins and nutrients you get from fresh vegetables, from fruits, from soy sources. If you're doing it right, it'd actually be a challenge to have a vegan or veggie diet lacking in enough protein.

(Americans are kind of obsessed with the idea that protein is the big nutrient to be concerned with, really. While it's certainly important, especially for people still developing, there are other nutrients and foods just as vital, if not more so, for sound health. A woman from 20 -40, for instance, needs about 45 grams a day, according to the RDA. One *light* soy-based hot dog, of all things, tends to that: most meat-based hot dogs have about that as well. The brand of soy dogs I buy have 75g: and that's just one part of one meal. A steak serving has about 34 grams, a servcing of chicken, 24.)

Veggies who switch from, say, even something as rank as the average American frozen/fast food diet, and then end up eating nothing but peanut butter and jam? They, on the other hand, aren't going to fare very well, but they likely weren't before, either.

One of the biggest problems young adults have when they want to go veggie is being unable to cook in their homes, or buy their own foods for cooking: more times than not, they're eating the same meals their families are, just eating whatever sides don't have meat in them (which usually means some sort of simple starch, some kind of tinned, frozen or overcooked veg, etc.)

(And BiGoddess, tofu pups are generally the ones most ex-meateaters like best, in my experience of cooking MANY kinds of notdogs for carnivores.)

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Oh, and twentysix?

As I said, there's really little sense, if your diet is balanaced, in worrying a lot about protein, but here are some of the best vegetable sources for you. Know that combining sources is really what's key with vegetable proteins.

That said: any kind of legume/bean, leafy green vegetables like spinach (and easy meal there? Make whole grain pasta, saute veggies you like with some olive oil and garlic, then, when done, mix it all up and just stir raw spinach in: the other foods will steam it perfectly), sea vegetables (like nori, you can make veggie sushi, easy), nuts, seeds, soy products -- soy milk and cheese, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and food products made with any or all of these, and whole grains.

If you eat dairy, you can also toss in eggs, cheeses, yogurt and milk products.

Here's a piece from Harvard on protein in general: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/protein.html

Do yourself a favor and get a couple good veggie cookbooks, too. My two faves for ovo-lacto are The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Molly Kantzen and Vegetariana by Nava Atlas. If you want some vegan options, The Garden of Vegan and How It All Vegan just plain RULE, esp. since they do what many cookbooks don't, per not making it all about dinners: they have snacks, breakfasts, spreads, sweets, the works.

Dr. Neal Barnard's "Breaking the Food Seduction" also has AWESOME recipes, all introduced with awesome explanation about nutrition, how meat and dairy do create chemical cravings/addictions, and the like. I got it b/c our volunteer Bettie here made a faux chicken salad from it for me for lunch once on a visit, and I HAD to have where that recipe came from, b/c it was the best I'd ever eaten.

And he's just an amazing guy, period: http://www.pcrm.org/ That org, Physicians for Responsible Medicine, also has a vegetarian starter kit, too: http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vsk/index.html

[ 04-26-2006, 01:38 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Karybu
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This isn't quite on topic, but where can you buy tempeh and seitan? I've looked in all the grocery stores in my area, but no luck. All they have is tofu, and I despise tofu. (Tried again and again to like it, but something about the texture is just squicky to me.) So, where would be the best place to look - Asian grocery stores, health food stores, where? I feel like I'm on a quest for the vegan holy grail, here. [Smile]

[ 04-26-2006, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Heather
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Since moving to WA, I've found I can find those way more readily in mainstream stores. The Fred Meyer here carries them, for instance, in a healthy deli section.

Tempeh has actually always been my favorite: it's got a dense, nutty texture: I love marinating it in something good (like cajun spices), then blackening it and tossing it over salads. It's also awesome stir-fried.

Per the tofu, there are SO many different ways to make it, so the texture really, really varies. Deep-fried or baked tofu, for instance, is a very different thing than stir-fried or raw. And what type of tofu you buy -- silken, firm, extra frim -- makes a big diff, too, because those three textures are very different, even just raw.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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twentysix
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whoa, dude, i didn't expect so many responses. this is such a huge help, thank you so much.

i was wondering what the big fuss is over protein, but now i know america just doesn't want to give up their meat eating habits, aha.

my family has made an effort to help me out with the dinner situation. homework consumes so much of my night that i don't know how i would do this without their support!

cutting meat out of my diet has actually caused me to be more alert. i mean... i'm pretty gassy now, but that's to be expected when one makes a drastic change in what they eat.

caribbeandiver, as much as i ABHOR peta, and i'm not a big fan of "ethical vegetarians" either, their recipes sound really good. thank you.

miz s, thanks for the book reccomendations. i'll definately check those out.

Posts: 86 | From: california | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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