Healthy Life - Vegetables
Healthy Life - Vegetables
There are many misconceptions about vegetarian food. People think it is difficult to prepare, that it required special ingredients or that it is just plain uninteresting. In this section you will see that this is not the case – vegetarian food can be just as varied and appealing as any meat dish.
During your everyday cooking you probably cook more vegetarian meals than you think. How often, for example, do you make beans on toast, cauliflower cheese or an omelet? All these could be called vegetarian.
People are vegetarian for a variety of reasons. They may simply dislike the taste of meat and this could have developed as soon as they started to eat solid foods as a baby or later on in life. Other people may object to the exploitation of animals.
Kinds of vegetarians
It can help a great deal, and avoid any embarrassment with guests, if you find out first whether they are lacto-vegetarians or vegans.
· Lacto-vegetarians – A lacto-vegetarian will eat dairy products such as butter, milk, cheese, yogurt and cream but not meet or fish.
· Vegans – A vegan excludes all animal products from the diet, not only meat and fish but dairy products as well.
There are many ingredients that are common to all cooks whether vegetarian or not.
· Spices, herbs and flavorings · Fats and oils · Cereal products · Sweeteners
· Cakes and biscuits · Stock
Importance of Protein
The one thing that vegetarians and vegans in particular, have to be careful about is seating enough protein – something frequent meat-eaters do not have to think about.
Most people need a minimum of 50g of protein a day. Very active men, breastfeeding and pregnant mothers or growing children need a little more.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. The proteins can be found in meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs are similar to those in our own bodies and are called fish-class proteins because they contain all the amino acids needed.
Other foods, such as cereals, vegetables and pulses also contain protein but each (except soya beans) is lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids. These are called second-class proteins. If you eat one of these foods alone you will not be getting an adequate balance. The correct way is to eat several things together, each one deficient in a different amino acid, so that you get the right combination of amino acids.
Food containing protein
Below are listed some suitable foods for vegetarians, starting with those suitable for lacto-vegetarians only.
· Eggs · Cheese · Milk · Yogurt · Butter · Soya beans · Pulses · Nuts · Seeds · Cereals
· Vegetables and fruit · Brewer’s yeast
Provided that you have a good balanced diet, choose your protein dishes carefully and make sure you always have fresh vegetables and fruit, then your nutritional needs should be adequately supplied.
There are, however, two things that can be lacking in a vegetarian diet so it is worthwhile making sure that you eat enough of the things that contain them.
· Vitamin B12 – This is found most in meat and to a certain extent it can be found in milk, eggs and cheese. Vegans can obtain it from brewer’s yeast and yeast extract and also from the herb comfrey, which can be added to salads or drink, if dried, in the form of tea.
· Iron – The richest source is meat, particularly liver. Lacto-vegetarians can obtain it from eggs yolks. It is also found in watercress, dried apricots, whole grains, vegetable concentrates and cocoa powder. To a lesser extent it is found in potatoes, green vegetables, such as cabbage and red wine.
Turning vegetarian does not mean that you have to alter the whole structure of your meals, although you might find it is quite fun to do this occasionally. All the main protein ingredients can be made into main dishes that can be eaten with bread, potatoes, rice or whole meal or buckwheat pasta.
If you have one vegetarian in the family, it is a good idea to serve vegetarian meals to all the family for perhaps three days a week. The meat-eaters could on those days have bacon for breakfast or meat with the salad at lunchtime. On the other days the first course, the vegetables accompanying the main dish and the dessert can be the same for everyone. You can make just as many different kinds of vegetarian meals as you can meat ones, having a different type of main dish every day and exploding the myth that vegetarian food is boring.
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