Lesson #4 The Vegetarian Diet

Discussion in 'You Are What You Eat!' started by skip, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. skip

    skip Founder Staff Member

    A vegetarian is a person who eschews devouring meat, fish, poultry. A Vegan also avoids eggs and dairy products. Vegetarianism as a lifestyle/philosophy began in ancient India, where the Hindus and Jains practice Ahimsa, or non-violence. This philosophy of not doing harm includes the killing of animals for human consumption.

    Thus most vegetarians agree that life is sacred, and the unnecessary taking of life for selfish reasons is unjustifiable. But that is only one of scores of good reasons not to eat meat. Please see the thread “Not Fit for Human Consumption”, http://www.hippy.com/php/article-23.html and http://www.hippy.com/php/article-24.html to discover more reasons not to eat meat and dairy products.

    For any wishing to become a vegetarian, it’s not necessary to stop eating meat “cold turkey.” There are variations of vegetarianism that many people adopt for various reasons. The most common form allows the inclusion of eggs and dairy products. Such people call themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians, and they consume milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, etc.

    Pescatarians are vegetarians who also consume fish or other seafood. Pollotarians also eat birds including chicken and other fowl. Semi-vegetarians (of which I am currently one) will eat seafood and/or poultry along with a vegetarian diet. Flexitarians eat mostly vegetarian food but occasionally consume other types of food.

    Strict vegetarians don’t accept such exceptions to the rule. That’s because they have strong philosophical reasons for not eating meat products, which have been mentioned. But many people have other reasons, such as not liking meat, or medical restrictions, or health reasons, so for them, a mostly vegetarian diet is preferred.

    Whatever reasons you have for adopting a vegetarian diet, it’s nice to know you can ease into it by eliminating one type of food at a time if you choose. Just removing meat products like beef and sausage and pork from your life can improve your digestion and health dramatically. Since most store bought meat now contains antibiotics and hormones and preservatives, you will be better off without them.

    Each person who gives up eating meat also reduces their personal carbon footprint dramatically. This is because for every cow or steer that get’s consumed, 12 times the protein obtained from that beast is wasted as feed for it. That’s a humongous waste of resources including land, water, pesticides, herbicides, etc. that are used to raise just one animal. Plus the methane produced, the carbon depleted (forests cut down) likewise add to global warming.

    Then there’s poultry. If you have ever seen what goes on in a poultry factory you would stop eating chicken immediately. The newborn chicks are sent down conveyor belts, their beaks are removed (to prevent them pecking each other), deformed ones are sent down another conveyor belt to be ground into feed for the survivors.

    They are raised in high density rooms where they are injected with antibiotics to prevent infection from the filthy close quarters they live in. They are given hormones to make them grow fast so they can be harvested sooner. All in all, it’s a sad testament to humanity that we would keep “livestock” in such conditions.

    Fish have traditionally been a good source of protein in the human diet. The once abundant fishing stocks have dwindled to a fraction now. They say we have consumed half the fish in the sea in the last 50 years, and many food species are now on the verge of extinction. There may be less than 20 years of fishing left before they are gone.

    So eating fish now carries the moral responsibility of species extinction. And fish farms are NOT the answer. They have to catch smaller fish to feed the bigger fish they raise in these farms. Thus those smaller feeder species are also disappearing. And many fish farms in Asia are in the middle of highly polluted water. It’s so bad that many farms must include antibiotics in the fish feed to keep them alive in the toxic water.

    Eggs are considered a meat product by strict vegetarians and vegans. So that is why they don’t eat them. Dairy is likewise an animal product, but even the Indian vegetarians, who worship the cow, consume its milk and milk products. No animal dies, and the cows are well cared for, since they’re sacred.

    And that brings us to an interesting philosophical point about vegetarianism. Vegetarians have raised their awareness of the foods they eat. This is in stark contrast to most omnivores, who rarely, if ever consider the source and nature of their food.

    A number of religious groups today promote a vegetarian diet including the Seventh Day Adventists, the Rastafarians, the Hare Krishnas, and Mahayana Buddhists. Each of these groups has taught its members a philosophical rationale behind vegetarianism.

    You can choose to adopt vegetarianism as your new diet for many reasons, but in any case you will become more AWARE, just by practicing vegetarianism. As your body adapts to the new diet, you will crave meat less and less, and may even be repulsed by it.

    You might crave meat if you don’t learn how to eat like a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you steam some broccoli and call that dinner. You still need a balanced diet with complete proteins and other vital nutrients.

    The best way to understand how to eat right as a vegetarian is to examine how other mostly vegetarian or primitive cultures manage to survive without meat. If you look at some of these you’ll quickly notice similarities. Each culture has adapted their local produce into a good sustainable healthy lifestyle.

    In Asia they combine rice with legumes (beans, tofu, soy sauce) and other vegetables to make complete proteins. In South & Central America they combine rice and beans as well in most every meal. In the Middle East they combine wheat products like flatbread with beans in the form of hummus for a complete protein.
    So to be a vegetarian means you must constantly be aware of your nutritional intake, especially as you adapt to the diet. Steamed or raw veggies are not enough. You’ve got to get enough protein by mixing your grains and legumes or other protein rich combos.

    There is one essential nutrient that vegetarians cannot obtain from a vegetable source. That is vitamin B-12, a lack of which can result in anemia and organ malfunction. Many vegetarians take that along with other vitamins to be certain they aren’t falling short. But there is controversy over the industrial source for B-12. Some even say it’s made from sewage! But apparently there are labs that cultivate specific bacteria to do the job. What they feed that bacteria, I have no idea…

    B-12 is present in all animals, and therefore those who don’t eat meat or dairy don’t get enough. But you can also get B-12 from yeast (microscopic animals) in products like nutritional yeast or Vegemite, or from bacteria in tempeh (fermented soybeans), Spirulina and the Chinese herb Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) . Celebrities like Madonna inject themselves with vitamin B-12 for an energy rush before going on stage.

    Fortunately many vegetarian products are fortified with vitamin B-12, so keep your eyes out for those if you can’t find another source.

    So what would a vegetarian meal consist of?

    As in a normal meal, you can start with a salad or soup. In many cases, a soup and salad would be an entire vegetarian meal! For a main course you would probably have a dish like lasagna, rice and beans, veggie burger, veggie casserole, vegetable pie, or any ethnic dish, without meats like curries, enchiladas, tofu tacos, etc.

    There are many meat substitutes around that most vegetarians rely upon for protein in their main courses. Tofu is one of the most popular. Tempeh and TVP (texturized vegetable protein) are also soy products that can be used in place of meat.

    Some people like mochi, a wheat gluten paste that can be added like meat. I don’t recommend “quorn”, a fungus, as I had a problem digesting it (bad stomach ache).

    If you use tofu, choose the type of tofu according to how you will use it. Get the firm or extra firm to cut up in cubes for cooking like meat. If you fry the tofu until it starts to brown, it will gain a chewier texture. For use in sauces, dressings, pies, etc, where it will be blended with other ingredients, the smooth/soft version of tofu is preferred.

    So you needn’t give up any of your favorite dishes, if you can substitute something for the meat. It might take a bit of getting used to because the texture and flavor of substitutes is not the same. But you will notice a cleaner taste, with less of the heavy oily flavors that meat imparts.

    One thing to avoid: don’t buy any flavored meat-substitute products. I’m talking about those that say “meat-flavored.” I can almost guarantee you’ll be disappointed! Like a meat-flavored veggie burger. The goal is to not want to eat meat, and this includes meat flavored products. Once you’ve got used to the substitutes, you won’t want anything “meat-flavored”.

    BTW, you can buy veggie burgers premade, or you can make them yourself and save a lot of money! There are hundreds of recipes, but you’ll probably want to find one that suits your own taste. You should experiment with small batches until you get what you want.

    Here are some good ingredients to include in your own mix:
    Potato (good binder)
    Ground nuts (walnuts work good)
    Finely chopped onion or garlic
    Wheat flour (binder)
    Egg (optional binder)
    Cheese (optional)

    Most veggie burgers contain some combination of the above. Try to keep the mixture sticky but not wet. No large pieces that would cause the burger to break apart.

    You can also make a No-Meat Loaf with the same ingredients.

    A large piece of Tofu or Tempeh or TVP or Okara (soy solids) can also make a burger by themselves.

    As you get more into the vegetarian diet, the less you will feel the need to eat “burgers, steaks, roasts,” etc. Conversely, the more you will crave the subtle flavors of organic vegetables and fruit. Your taste buds become ever more sensitive as vegetables become as satisfying as meat used to be.

    Eventually you may feel the need to become even more strict in your diet. Then Veganism may be for you! Just eliminate the dairy, eggs and honey (believe it or not!). Of course Vegans are also against the use of animal by-products, and won’t wear leather or use any animal product in their daily lives.

    If you feel strongly about animal rights and feel the karma associated with eating meat, then you are a good candidate for Veganism.

    Assignment: Pick one of the versions of vegetarianism to follow, and report back to us how you do with your new diet!

    More Links from our sites:

    Vegetarian Forum

    Vegetarian Recipes

    Vegan Recipes

    Vegetarian Group

    More Vegetarian Links
  2. mariecstasy

    mariecstasy Enchanted

    I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian and have been since March of this year. It was something that I had wanted to do for many years. My fiance(sylvanlightning) and I had gone to a meditation retreat for the weekend and all the meals were vegan. I didn't dig all the food at all but had a rush of energy and was excited about having gone those days without meat. When we left he and I had made the decision to go vegeterian.
    He has recently started incorporating meat back into his diet and although I would love a burger and have almost biten into one, something inside just prevents me....I think most of it is environmental concerns...as well as having had learned too much.
    Also the more I come to learn about food and its quality and our bodies processing of what we eat...the more I come to realize that I don't really need to put a bunch of dead food in my body and that it prefers it, the more I try to consciously make wise choices.

    Good luck on anyone's endeavors. I didn't know if I could do it and its been alot easier than I ever thought.
  3. usfcat

    usfcat CaterCreeps

    I recently cut out red meat. This was much easier than I thought it would be. I bought "soy crumbles" to make sloppy joes and they tasted the same, it was great!
    My next step will be to cut out poultry. I have a feeling this one will be harder for me.
    I really enjoy making Indian veggie dishes. They are so simple, just throw chickpeas, tomatos, onion, or whatever you like into the crockpot with yummy indian spices and let it simmer all day and serve over rice..so yum!
    A website I enjoy to use is vegweb.com. It is a wonderful resource for recipes! :)
  4. Autentique

    Autentique wonderfabulastic

    I'm a lacto-vegetarian, no eggs anymore. I've been eating lots and lots of fruits because that's what my body has been craving, anything else, I have to think about it more.
    I do eat veggie burgers every now and then. Falafels I love :) I have a recipe to make them myself, I must try that. Hummus. Yogurt. Cereal.
    Also my favorite Salad: Beans, Chickpeas, Mozzarella, Onions, Tomatoes and lemon juice, olive oil and pepper as a dressing (I used to use salt also, but not anymore). I usually make a lot of this and save in the fridge and eat it with whole wheat pita bread. It's super yummy.
    I must say that since I stopped eating meat, my body has not craved it at all, on the contrary, it repulses me and I've been feeling the need to eat "fresh" food, like salads and fruits more and more. I mean I used to eat pizza at least once a week and I think the last time I ordered one was before the beggining of this class.
    I've lost some weight, not like a lot, maybe around 5-7 pounds, I havent weighted myself, but my pants are always falling down, so I know I've lost weight. But I've always been known to stay around my same weight, but I lose and gain weight very easily.
    In general I must say I feel like more light and relaxed since I stopped eating meat.
  5. flytothe_sky

    flytothe_sky Member

    I was vegetarian for 6 months a little while ago. However, I gave in. I really enjoy eating chicken. I don't eat much meat, though, so I'm proud of myself for that. There's this really good vegetarian restaurant that I go to sometimes, it's really tasty :)
  6. I've been veg for almost a year now. I don't find it too hard because my parents are so accommodating and willing to pay a bit extra for all the veggie and tofu foods I buy. I do eat fish on occasion (salmon) , because it is good for you, and I really love the taste, but i did go about 6 months without eggs or fish and I found I was more tired and wasn't substituting anything for protein, so I would eat more carbs, and gained weight. Anyways,, hickory smoked tofurky is sooo good on a piece of Naan bread spread with hummus and throw some cucumber, lettuce and tomato on there. Yummy :)
    I find the easiest thing to do, if your a veggie on the go it to take one day a week, mix up a veggie casserole or stir fry and throw it in the fridge, have it with a soup or salad every day for the whole week. Doesn't get boring if you put different spices and sauces and topping on the (whatever mixed up dish) and it's so convenient.
  7. Thanks for all the great tips on a healthy diet with less impact on our deteriorating environment. I have read 4 of your teachings so far and I am not going to totally cut meat out of my diet but I will definitely make sure non meat products make up the most part of my diet. I have already started on my own and I am going to pay more attention to what I'm eating. I'm going to stick with organics as much as I can. Well again thanks for all the great information.
  8. drumminmama

    drumminmama Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    I just wanted to point out that vegetarians who are into accuracy dislike the pescatarian/pollo/semi labels because it seems the people are seeing a cachet with veg-ness, but not dedicating themselves.
    You say pollotarian, I say picky omni.

    THat said, thanks for every meal where you try to reduce violence.
  9. hiphippiegirl

    hiphippiegirl Member

    I'm going vegetarian as soon as I can tell my parents. (I'm such a coward!)
    To begin with, I'll cut out all meat.
    Then I will ease out of milk, butter, eggs, etc.
    The hardest thing to cut out (I don't know if i'll make it) is Ice Cream. Is there any way to satisfy ice cream cravings with a soy-based product? I need some help here!!
  10. myself

    myself just me

    There are some recipes for vegan icecream:


    There are lots of special recipes for vegan chocolate, cakes, cookies, etc.
  11. ginger77

    ginger77 Member

    I'm a Pollotarian.

    I've been a strict Vegetarian & tried to go Vegan, but right now Pollotarian is the best fit for my life right now.
  12. BornHippy

    BornHippy Member

    Iv been vegetarian 4 5 yrs and still havnt bothered trying to cook healthy meals. Have now stopped eating eggs 2. I eat alota fruit and cereal lol proberly why i am a little chubby. I cant cook. And vegetarian stuf or veges and fruit can b sooo expensive when you dont hav full time job. But still i would neva turn back. Though sum1 told me that soy products make problems with ur hormones? Save the animals!!! Vege 4 life!!!! xo
  13. greenslime

    greenslime Guest

    I really do not like to say as it may offend both sides --those which eat animal products and those that do not. I was in the hospital for an INFLAMED COLON in February of 2010. I probably have some type of GI disorder. NO, I'm not a doctor but I was in the medical field as my career for 25 years, so I do know a great deal thanks to working in the medical field. I am just wondering if ANYONE has had problems similar to mine as I believe I probably need an elimination diet. Thanks.
  14. Paisley Skye

    Paisley Skye Member

    i'm a vegan, but it's very difficult in my home because my wife and kids don't prescribe to this lifestyle. i try to be pro-active by setting a good example, plus i accompany my wife grocery shopping whenever possible. it is somewhat more expensive, but it's worth the effort because my reasons for choosing this lifestyle transcend the economic issues and reach into maintenance of a healthy holistic exsistence(physical as well as spiritual). paisley skye.

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