Vegetarians, posers or do-gooders?

vegetarian dish

by Femita

Anyone who has ever invited a vegetarian friend over for dinner knows how difficult it can be to cook a tasty meal without meat or fish when you’re not used to it. But why would you refrain from eating steak or salmon? Is it really healthier to be a vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is healthier than ‘normal’ food

Correct! When we are talking about a balanced vegetarian diet with sufficient amounts of cereals and legumes, it’s certainly as healthy or even more healthy than a daily serving of meat or fish. This is because vegetable food contains less saturated fat and thus reduces the risk of heart disease. Moreover, vegetables and legumes require more chewing than fast food. Therefore many vegetarians eat less calories, which makes them less prone to overweight and type 2 diabetes.

It’s just a fad

Wrong! Inevitably a number of people become a vegetarian because it’s the cool thing to do, but it’s a minority. Lately the negative impact of meat consumption has become clearer and clearer, which convinced many people to become a vegetarian. But don’t forget that vegetarianism is something of all times e.g. Einstein and Gandhi were vegetarians.

Vegetarians have all kind of deficiencies

Wrong! If you are well-informed and eat a balanced diet, deficiencies are not an issue. Nevertheless it is recommended to let your physician keep an eye on your iron, protein and calcium levels. When deficiencies should arise, supplements provide an excellent solution.

Vegetarians are not allowed to eat cheese

Correct! Most cheese is made with rennet, which is derived from the stomach tissue of a slaughtered calf. Don’t worry, however, there is cheese that uses vegetarian rennet. Other typical pitfalls for vegetarians are gelatin, which is found primarily in candy and contains bone meal, and carmine, a red food coloring agent that’s made from red beetles.

Vegetarians are softies that are only concerned with saving animals

Wrong! Or at least partly wrong. Of course a vegetarian diet saves many animals knowing that the average person eats 2400 animals during their lifetime, but there are many more reasons to choose a vegetarian lifestyle. Just think about all the health benefits and the environment. All those millions of animals ready to be slaughtered have a very heavy ecological footprint.

Vegetarians who still eat meat from time to time are hypocrites

Wrong! Some people are just semi-vegetarians. They eat meat in exceptional cases like a visit to a friend. There is even a new name for this phenomenon: the flexitarian! In general, most flexitarians avoid red meat, but eat fish or chicken from time to time. It can be, but not necessarily is, a first step to becoming a full vegetarian.

Kids need meat

Wrong! But mind, growing children need to closely watch their food intake when they remove meat from the menu. They need a lot of essential amino acids that are mostly found in animal sources. Luckily, there are good alternatives like tofu, quorn, milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs.

Veggie burgers and other meat substitutes are necessary

Wrong! You don’t need to replace the piece of meat on your plate, although these meat substitutes are convenient for beginners. This is because they don’t change anything to the structure of your plate: it’s still potatoes, ‘meat’ and vegetables. Mind that traditional meat substitutes like tofu, seitan or tempeh are healthier than burgers and sausages found in the supermarket, as the latter contain more salt and fat.

Vegetarians and vegans, all the same

Wrong! There is a big difference: vegetarians don’t eat food that comes from dead animals, while vegans don’t eat animal products at all, including dairy and eggs. Becoming a vegan asks for a lot more dedication as it is not easy to find products that contain no animal ingredients at all. This also applies to eating out.

It is best to gradually switch to a vegetarian diet

Wrong! It is safe to become a vegetarian in one go as long as you’re well-informed. Vegetarian Society is an excellent place to start.

Alison

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