by Andrea Purcell, ND
Patients come to vegetarianism for a variety of reasons.
The three most common reasons I hear are:
I heard it was better for my health.
It’s a religious or customary choice.
It’s less cruel to animals and our planet.
The food choices I most commonly see among the vegetarian patient base are nothing close to vegetarianism as defined by the term.
So to clarify, the word vegetable is contained within the word vegetarian. In order to be a vegetarian you must eat vegetables, which means that you must buy, prepare, occasionally cook and chew them on a regular basis.
The type of vegetarianism I commonly find in my patients who come to the office and say that they are vegetarian, are really carbo-vegetarians. This means that they consume easy to prepare, on the run processed food forms of carbohydrates that are animal free.
These include, rice, pasta, breads, cakes, cookies, frozen yogurt, bean burritos in white flour tortillas, pancakes, bagels, waffles, fruit, veggie sandwiches, pizza, vegetable dumplings, vegetable lasagna, chips and salsa, hummus with carrots. All of the vegetarian options in this example are simple carbohydrates. They have been processed and refined, meaning that they have been bleached of their nutrients, and stripped of their fiber. Simple carbohydrates are exactly what they say, simple. Not the nutrient and fiber dense food, of what they once were, or of how nature intended it be delivered to us.
Being a healthy vegetarian means being a responsible vegetarian. This means that vegetarians need to work very hard to get enough fat and protein in their diets in order to maintain the level of health that famous vegetarians brag about.
Responsible vegetarianism includes a balance of fat, protein, complex carbohydrates, and of course vegetables at every meal and snack.
Eating fruit in place of vegetables would technically make a person a fruitarian, which is not the topic of this blog.
Complex Carbohydrates include: Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, and millet. Whole beans, black, lentil, red, white, mung, garbanzo and vegetables in every color.
Protein sources include: Nuts, beans, seeds, tofu, tempeh, possibly eggs or dairy depending on the type of vegetarian, certain vegetables (avocado, spinach, broccoli).
Fat sources include: Nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut milk & meat, oils in many forms.
To Drink: Juiced Vegetables! Try my favorite mixture: Celery, cucumber, spinach, Swiss chard, ½ apple.
Be a responsible vegetarian, your body will thank you for it!