A Guide to Living a Healthy Vegetarian or Vegan Lifestyle and What Supplements to Take

A healthy vegetarian diet consists primarily of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seed. Because the emphasis is on non-meat food sources, a vegetarian diet generally contains less fat and cholesterol, and typically includes more fiber. On the flip side vegetarians don’t generally eat some necessary vitamins and minerals that are found in animal products. To understand this you much first understand the types of vegetarians.

Most Vegetarians fall into groups defined by the types of animal-derived foods they typically eat:

Vegans are the strictest of the vegetarians and really are Vegans, which is a sub group of vegetarians. A vegan is a vegetarians but a vegetarian is not always a vegan. What vegans do is eliminate all foods from animals, including meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs and cheese. Some vegans don’t eat honey because it is derived from and animal. So pretty much they eat only plant-based foods. I am an on and off again vegan, I find the lifestyle choice to be purifying but often my body craves milk derived products my guess is for the vitamin b12 and calcium. It is very important for vegans to supplement their diets with supplements.

Another type of vegetarian is a Lacto-vegetarian, they consume milk and milk products along with plant-based foods but they omit eggs as of course meat, fish and poultry.

A Lacto-ovo vegetarian omit red meat, fish and poultry but eats eggs, milk and milk products, such as cheese and yogurt, in addition to plant-based foods.

There are also many vegetarians who go back and forth on eating diary products but generally all vegetarians don’t slip up and have a steak, they slip on a piece of cheese or an omelet and its more of a “treat” or exception not a slip up.

Now that the types of vegetarians are understood a little advise on how to keep your vegetarian diet on track. A lot of people find using a vegetarian food pyramid helpful. The pyramids usually outline various food groups and food choices that, if eaten in the right quantities, form the foundation of a healthy vegetarian diet; some pyramids a lot included a supplement section.

Meatless products, such as tofu dogs, soy burgers, nut loaves or texturized vegetable protein, add variety, protein and vital nutrients to a vegetarian diet. These products are now commonly found in most grocery stores and health food markets. They aim to simulate the taste and texture of meat and usually have less fat and fewer calories. Many of the meatless products, such as tofu or tempeh, are made from soybeans.

If you follow a vegan diet, you may need to find alternatives for eggs and dairy products. Try these suggestions when meal planning or cooking:

Instead of Milk, drink fortified soymilk, rice milk or almond milk in place of cow’s milk.
Instead of Butter. Try using olive oil when saut�©ing, or for bread toppings. Also water, vegetable broth, wine or nonfat cooking spray instead of butter works and In baked goods, use canola oil.

As an alternative to Cheese you can use soy cheese or nutritional yeast flakes, which are available in health food stores.

For a replacement to Eggs try commercial egg replacers – a dry product made mostly of potato starch. Or you can use the following to replace one egg: 1/4 cup whipped tofu or 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water. For an egg-free omelet try using tofu instead of eggsâÂ?¦. This is one of my personal favorites.

In general the most important supplement for a vegan and or a vegetarian is a daily multi vitaminâÂ?¦ I personally am a sudo vegan meaning I eat cheese occasionally, I have been all the diferent classifications of vegetarians over the last 11 years…and I take a mulit vitamin every other day because I don’t feel that I need one everyday, there are many vegans and vegetarians like my self who take a multi vitamin a few times a week and there are others who take daily, use your descression. As for what kind to take there are many available on the market especially designed for vegetarians and vegans and others that are vegetarian, don’t assume that all vitamins are thought because some are not; check the labels ask the store associate. If you do nothing else take a multi.

For a Vegan the most important supplement is B12. Low B12 intakes can cause anemia and nervous system damage. The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 which are usually some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals and B12 supplements, eating the cereals or milks usually are not enough, it is recommended that all Vegans take a B12 supplement.

It is also important to make sure you are getting enough iron, and zinc. The best sources for iron and zinc are eggs, whole-grain cereals, pulses, green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. A vegan and vegetarians should be able to get enough iron and zinc from eating green veggies and taking their daily multi vitamin.

Also important are fish oils and or flax seeds or oil. Flax can be a substitute for the fish oil if you prefer not to consume that. I think that flax seed oils are great mixed in with salad dressings or on salad or cooked with. Flax seeds, the ground kind are available in almost all drug stores, even Wal-Mart, and taste great mixed in with cereals or sprinkled on top of veggies. Flax is a great way to get omega 3 fatty acids. I use flax seeds a few times weekly.

A vegan or Vegetarian lifestyle can be heathly and rewarding if done correctly…

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