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Vegetarian does not necessarily rhyme with greenish complexion or anemia, but it is true that severely cutting the flesh can have adverse effects on your health. Here is the survival guide for eating vegetarian and avoid deficiencies!

Vegetarian food for beginners

It’s not always easy to sort through your  kitchen  when you start eating vegetarian. Fans of this diet that excludes meat, poultry and fish must fill their plate with nutritious substitutes to refuel and avoid deficiencies . Lacto-ovo-vegetarians, as they are known, generally develop less cancer than the average population and are less exposed to cardiovascular disease. But with vegetarianism comes some food reforms and special attention for  nutrition . A daily puzzle? Not at all ! Here are seven tips for eating vegetarian without suffering from a food deficit.

1. Combine the proteins.

It’s not enough to barter the filet mignon for a slice of grilled tofu for a supportive and balanced meal. For vegetarians, it is essential to get enough protein . “It’s important, to get there, to supplement proteins and include them in all meals,” says nutritionist Geneviève Nadeau. To get all the amino acids essential to the proper functioning of the organism, we must combine protein foods of plant origin . Legumes paired with a grain will help you get what your body needs. Crackers soaked in humus, for example, are a winning combination or a spaghetti topped with a tomato sauce and lenses .

2. Learn about vitamins and nutrients.

Before making the leap, take the time to get informed . A nutritionist can give you information about the vitamins and nutrients you might be missing, but eating veggies is not rocket science. “It’s quite possible to be perfectly healthy, but you have to make the right choices, ” says nutritionist Hubert Cormier . Fortunately, the web contains information on this food trend. Books like The great book of the vegetarian cuisine of chefs Igor Brotto and Olivier Guiriec prove that it is even possible to be vegetarian and gastronomic!

3. Try international recipes.

“It can be interesting to get out of your comfort zone and discover what other people are putting on their plate,” says Hubert Cormier. But failing to fly to an exotic country, try restaurants with an international flavor . India is the country with the most vegetarians in the world and its dishes will give you some ideas for cooking your favorite vegetables.

The tofu served in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants may also inspire you some recipes . Do not hesitate to add eggs to your stir-fries as in Asian restaurants. It’s a great way to add protein to your meal.

4. Meet your energy needs.

Vegetarians must meet their energy needs and sometimes the task is more laborious than for carnivores. The consumption of low energy density foods, such as vegetables and fruits, is the main culprit. ” To meet your protein-energy needs, do not hesitate to cook with fats such as olive oil,” suggests Hubert Cormier. Focus on foods that have a higher energy density such as crackers or cereal bars.

5. Do not forget vitamin D.

The Vitamin D , also called vitamin Sun, is vital to bone health and plays an important role in calcium absorption. To avoid a lack, you have to eat dairy products and fortified soy beverages, for example. Exposing about 15 minutes a day to the sun also provides a sufficient daily intake of vitamin D.

6. Maximize your iron absorption.

Vegetarians can easily develop iron deficiency if they do not make up for the loss of meat. It is important to choose foods that are rich in iron such as nuts, seeds, tofu, soy beverages and green vegetables. Geneviève Nadeau warns those who eat between 50 and 60 grams of fiber a day. “The fibers are like a sponge, it slowed the absorption of iron,” she says. On the other hand, vitamin C, which is found among others in citrus fruit , makes it possible to optimize its assimilation.

7. Choose a good vegetarian restaurant.

Vegetarianism is a diet that is gaining popularity and restaurants are following the trend. Today, vegetarian options are practically on every menu, even if they do not always include the five food groups. Little trick: always drag a mixture of nuts to get enough protein.

Dr. Kanika Singla

Ph.D., IARI Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley

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