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Nutrition

Vegetarian Diet

My typical daily diet includes some type of meat; therefore, I am not a vegetarian. However, I do my best to include lean meat products in my daily diet and try to refrain from products that are too fatty or processed. The vegetarian diet typically involves the consumption of plant-based foods as the primary source of nutrients, and vegetarians with fewer dietary restrictions (i.e. vegans) also consume dairy products. It is important for vegetarians to have a healthy and balanced diet that includes a variety of different foods from the various food groups, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy products. It is important to consider these alternatives in the development of a successful vegetarian diet strategy.

As with other types of diets, a vegetarian food pyramid also exists and provides a basis for a healthy diet and encourages the highest level of consumption of grains, then high protein foods such as nuts and legumes, then vegetables, fruits, and fats (Mayo Clinic).  The daily dietary recommendations are as follows: 2 servings of fats, 2 servings of fruits, 4 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of legumes and nuts, and 6 servings of grains (Mayo Clinic). Each of these recommendations is an important contributor to a healthy vegetarian diet on a daily basis.

A plant-based diet is important for optimal health and nutrition for vegetarians; however, there is a greater risk of vitamin deficiencies for this group, such as calcium, iron, Vitamin B12, and zinc (MedlinePlus). It is important for vegetarians to focus on these items in their diet plans in order to achieve successful nutritional outcomes (MedlinePlus). Any plant-based diet must incorporate a variety of different food products to achieve proper nutrition; however, another area to consider is the ability to obtain adequate amounts of energy from the plant-based foods that are consumed (Abraham). It is expected that a plant-based diet will provide sufficient energy for daily living and will also contribute to a healthier lifestyle and a leaner approach to eating (Abraham). For those persons interested in a vegetarian diet, experimentation with new types of foods, such as soy products and veggie-based products such as burgers are a good start towards this direction (Abraham). These examples offer variety in the plant-based diet and support the development of a healthier direction to acquire proper nutrition (Abraham).

It is evident that for vegetarians, plant-based diets provide a level of energy and positive health that supports greater wellbeing (NIH). One of the key benefits to a vegetarian plant-based diet is the likelihood of greater overall health and a reduced risk of chronic illness (NIH). Vegetarian diets also represent a set of personal beliefs regarding food and nutrition, whether they are based upon religious preferences or customs, or the general need to consume healthier foods (NIH). Therefore, it is important to recognize the reasons why a vegetarian diet is preferred and how to integrate these types of foods into the daily diet (NIH). Long-term vegetarians have demonstrated lower levels of cancer and generally weigh less than meat eaters, and also reduce the risks associated with high cholesterol and heart disease (NIH). As a result, the vegetarian diet provides many health-related benefits to those who prefer this type of nutrition (NIH). For vegetarians, the concept of consuming plant-based foods is relatively simple and provides numerous benefits, and for those interested in a vegetarian diet, it is recommended that experimenting with different types of foods that might be unfamiliar is a strategy to determine if this type of diet will provide the desired benefits without losing the taste and the variety that certain meat-based diets offer (NIH).

Works Cited

Abraham, L., 2013. “Vegetarian diet: plant-based eating good for health and energy.” 28

March 2013: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/18/vegetarian-diet_n_2712282.html

Mayo Clinic, 2013. “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.” 28 March 2013:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596

MedlinePlus, 2013. “Vegetarian diet: how to get the best nutrition.” 28 March 2013:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596

National Institutes of Health, 2012. “Digging a vegetarian diet.” 28 March 2013:

http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/jul2012/feature1