the Myths of Vegetarianism
Myth 2: Vegetarians
are lacking vitamins and nutrients.
A well-planned vegetarian diet can
have all the necessary nutrients. In fact, vegetarians can actually get more
of what they need because they tend to eat a more varied diet than non-vegetarians.
They are also more inclined to watch and keep track of what they eat. There
is one very important rule to keep in mind—in order to meet the recommended
daily allowances of vitamins and nutrients, vegetarians (like any person) can’t
let junk food or snacks take over their diet.
Iron, which many believe to be primarily found in meat, is also in fruit and
vegetables. Iron can actually be found nearly everywhere. Whole breads, cereals,
nuts and seeds, and dark, leafy vegetables can be a great source of iron.
The recommended intake of iron for the average man or women is about 10-15
mg per day (8). With a bowl of bran flakes that contains about 8 mg of iron,
that daily allowance is easy to meet.
Vegetarians have osteoporosis rates that are the same or lower than non-vegetarians.
So, obviously, adequate calcium is not an issue. Calcium-rich foods include
dark, leafy green veggies, broccoli, almonds, beans, dried fruit and calcium-fortified
soymilk or orange juice.
Studies have shown that vegetarians actually manage their calcium better,
since an excess of protein causes the body to filter out usable calcium (1).
- Vitamin B12
This vitamin should really be the only concern for vegetarians. The truth
is that B12 is only found in animal sources, not also in plant sources like
other nutrients. Yet humans only need a tiny amount (2 micrograms) in our
diet, and very few cases of B12 deficiencies have ever been reported (1).
The best thing for a vegetarian to do is eat fortified foods on a regular
basis. That can include fortified soy milk, breakfast cereals or prepared
frozen foods. Supplements can also be the fool-proof way to go, although be
cautious to buy the supplement with only the amount of B12 you need.
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Animal sources are the most concentrated foods that contain riboflavin. However,
seaweed, green leafy vegetables, beans, fruits and enriched breads and cereals
contain adequate amounts for a vegetarian.
We know this nutrient fights colds, but it is also a necessary part of the
diet year round. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians have trouble getting
enough zinc in their diet, which is possibly because scientists have yet to
agree what is the right amount to intake (1). Again, zinc can be found in
plant sources—specifically, breads and cereals, beans and nuts and seeds.
As opposed to prepackaged
meat-dishes, frozen vegetarian meals are often fortified with all the nutrients
and vitamins one would need. They are a good idea for people who are too busy
to prepare a well-rounded meal.
Myth 1 | Myth
3 | Myth 4 | Myth 5
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