Vegetarianism - The Basics


by Owen Jones


Vegetarians have always had the image of being on the periphery. In the Fifties, they were the Beatniks and in the following decades, they were the Hippies. Vegetarians have always been shown as individuals with long hair, wearing sandals and clad in clothes woven from natural products. Weirdos, some would say.

However, things have eventually been altering during the last ten or twenty years. There are so many vegetarians these days that they can no longer be known as on the fringe. Everyone knows a vegetarian nowadays and plenty of people opt not to eat meat at every meal time.

The fact is that vegetarians come in numerous different degrees of vegetarian. There are those who will fairly happily sit at the same table as meat-eaters and there are those who will not. I once shared a house with two vegetarians.

Whilst they went away on vacation for a fortnight, I decided to cook a chicken (something I was not allowed to do whilst they were there). When they returned ten days later, they knew that I had cooked a chicken and I had to promise never to do it again or move out.

Then there are vegetarians that will eat fish and there are those that will not and those who will eat dairy products and eggs, and those who will not. There are many levels of vegetarianism, the strictest being veganism, which means no animal protein whatsoever.

This can mean that vegetarians and vegans experience various nutrient deficiencies that are concentrated in meat, fish, milk and cheese. However, it is normally just novices who undergo these issues. Long term vegetarians know the dangers and either eat a very wide-ranging vegetarian diet or take vitamin tablets.

One effective way of replacing animal proteins is by eating beans, pulses, lentils and nuts. This is not an arduous task, but it does require more thought than slinging a hamburger on the griddle or barbecue. This is one of the issues for busy vegetarians - preparing food takes a great deal longer.

Tofu and other products derived from soya beans are a godsend for vegetarians, because it has all the protein one requires and is very versatile. It does not actually have any taste of its own, but it takes on flavours from whatever it is prepared with.

In general, it can be said that vegetarians have to eat more bulk than carnivores, because meat is concentrated vegetables. So, vegetarians normally have to eat more and also eat more varied food yet also make sure that they get all the vitamins that a body needs.

The upshot of being a vegetarian though is that no animal suffers for you and you get lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, which do not contain a great deal of calories. Vegetarians are not usually overweight and they hardly ever suffer from constipation and the diseases that are linked with eating too much meat, including cholesterol and high blood pressure issues.




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