Protein, Calcium, Iron, Vitamins, Cholesterol & Fat
The "Standard American Diet"ers consume twice the amount of protein required. Yes, you can consume too much protein and this can lead to osteoporosis and the overworking of the kidneys, liver and digestive system.
Most vegetarians and vegans on the other hand, easily meet their protein requirements by eating a variety of vegetables, legumes and grains. By consuming a variety of these foods to meet your daily caloric needs, you can ensure that you will get enough protein in your diet.
Do you believe that dairy products are the best source of calcium? Many plant foods provide the necessary calcium we need, without depleting it from our bodies at the same time. As with the "Standard American Diet", excessive protein intake depletes the body of calcium, so when you drink a glass of milk, you excrete the calcium later in your urine.
NOTE: Osteoporosis (the deterioration of bone tissue) is not a disease brought on by the lack of calcium, but rather by the depletion of calcium from the body.
Your daily food intake should include dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens. Also high in calcium are broccoli, tofu (especially tofu made with calcium sulfate), soybeans, sesame seeds, figs, sea vegetables, molasses, almonds and tempeh. Soy and rice milks are usually fortified with calcium.
Substitute lettuce with dark, leafy vegetables (spinach is delicious!) to enhance your calcium intake. Collard greens are delicious in salads and used in sandwiches. You can also shred and sprinkle the greens over pasta and cooked grains. Lettuce basically has no nutritional value.
Iron-rich foods include dark leafy greens, dried beans, blackstrap molasses, dried fruits such as raisins and figs. Now you know why your mother insisted on packing a small box of raisins in your lunch box!
A varied diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains contains bountiful quantities of Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, and vitamin E. Your body will manufacture all the vitamin D it requires simply by exposure to sunlight.
On a vegan diet, it can be tricky obtaining the necessary requirements for vitamin B12! The recommended daily allowance is only 2 micrograms. B12 is necessary for healthy nerves and blood and is produced by bacteria which is naturally present in soil and water. Chemicals have resulted in pollution water and soil whereby killing off many of these essential microorganisms.
Eating freshly pulled vegetables from the ground and drinking water no longer guarantee a sufficient supply of B12.
B12 is also present in the intestines of animals, carnivores and lacto-ovo vegetarians derive sufficient quantities of B12 from their diets. However, it is not necessary to include animal products in your diet to get B12. B12 is included in fortified breakfast cereals, soy milks, and rice beverages.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B12 is only 2 micrograms per day. However, it can be a bit tricky to obtain on a vegan diet. B12, necessary for healthy nerves and blood, is produced by bacteria naturally present in soil and water. Industrial agricultural practices have resulted in chemical pollution that has killed off many of these microorganisms. Eating vegetables freshly pulled from the ground and drinking water alone, will no longer guarantee us a sufficient supply of B12.
Because B12 is also present in the intestines of animals, carnivores (those who consume animal products) and lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who consume milk products) obtain sufficient quantities of B12 in their diets. However, reliable vegan sources of B12 include fortified breakfast cereals, soy milks, and rice beverages, so it's not necessary to consume animal products.
Red Star Nutritional Yeast is also a great source of B12. Another way to ensure you are getting this essential vitamin, is by taking a multi-vitamin or vitamin B12 supplement.
Cholesterol and Fat
Rrecent scientific studies show that no more than 15% of our daily calories should come from fat. So if you consume 1500 calories a day no more than 225 of those calories should be from fat. All health experts agree that the average American needs to drastically reduce their fat intake.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are high in saturated fat. Hydrogenation was originally developed to produce low-cost soap. It's the process of modifying fat artificially, converting liquid fats into solids as in margarine, lard, non-dairy cream, bakery products, and nut butters. One reason manufacturers prefer the use of hydrogenated oils is because they extend shelf life (life of the food, not yours!). And don't be fooled by the label reading "made from partially-hydrogenated fat" partially-hydrogenated fat is worst then totally hydrogenated fat.
“The higher levels of harmful fats are at the expense of essential fatty acids. The term "essential" in nutrition jargon means your body can't make it, so it must be on your plate! Since it has become virtually impossible to avoid a consistent, daily dietary intake of trans-fatty acids, Medical Hypotheses advises that "a precautionary, preventative supplementation of the diet with supplements containing essential fatty acids would be prudent. Such supplements are readily available. Look for flax seed and fish oils at your health store." ”
Sources: 1.Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1993 Dec, 12:651.
2. Medical Hypotheses, 1992 Apr, 3 7:24 1.
Free Recipes for Personal Use:
· Fried Green Tomatoes - by Gary Ibsen
Recipe taken from the "The Great Tomato Book" by Gary Ibsen and Joan Nielsen
· Yellow Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Corn, and Feta Cheese
Recipe taken from the "Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen" by Deborah Madison