Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cancer

Can I drink alcohol on my diet?

Chitosan - A Pill that Absorbs Fat?

Cholesterol - Eat more fat to lower?

Coffee! Should You or Shouldn't You?


Ephedra - Warning

EZ Zucchini

Fat Snack

Fats - Mono, Poly, Saturated

Food Poisoning

Food Labels that Fool You

Genetics and Obesity


Hunger - What is it?

I Ate too Much!

Olestra - The fat that's not a fat?



Salt - Something Nice

Sports Nutrition

Sun - Good Nutrition

Vegetable Soup Homemade

Vegetarian Eating

Vegetarians are Healthier?

Winners and Losers on Your Plate

Thinking about eating vegetarian style?
. . .but don't know how to get started?


Is this a vegetarian pizza?
You'll find the answer in this article.

Do you have high cholesterol or heart disease? Has your doctor told you to cut down on fatty foods and meat? Are you concerned though, that you won't get enough protein if you don't eat meat?

If you've ever thought about eating vegetarian style - or maybe you'd just like to decrease the amount of meat in your diet and include more plant foods instead but don't know how to get started - here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.

There are two types of vegetarians, vegan and lacto-ovo. Vegans eat strictly plant foods, no foods of animal origin. Lacto-ovo vegetarians (lacto means milk and ovo means egg) don't eat the flesh of an animal but do eat eggs, milk, and milk products like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, plus plant foods. (Note: An egg is not a chicken because it was never fertilized.) If you're just getting started, converting to a strictly plant-based vegan diet might be difficult, so I recommend beginning with a lacto-ovo diet.

The average person requires between 40 and 70 grams of protein per day which can easily be obtained from plant foods alone. However, in this country, most of us consume three to four times that amount entirely from meat. I have found that the major concern of meat-eaters who are thinking about eating vegetarian style is that they won't get enough protein on a vegetarian diet.

One molecule of protein is composed of 20 amino acids that form a strand to make a "complete protein." If any one of these amino acids is missing from the strand, a complete protein cannot be formed and the strand then becomes an "incomplete protein." Foods of animal origin (meat, milk, and eggs) contain complete proteins while plant foods are composed of incomplete proteins.

Although the protein in plants is incomplete, this does not present a problem because all amino acids can be obtained by eating a variety of vegetables and grains. This is called "complementary." One example of a complementary protein is corn and beans. Corn is missing the amino acid Lysine but is high in Methionine, while beans are lacking in Methionine but are high in Lysine.

You may have heard the terms "essential" and "non-essential" amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids, there are nine that must be obtained from food because the body cannot make them, so these are called essential. The non-essential amino acids can be made in the body, so it's not essential that they come from food. Because plants contain all 20 amino acids including the essentials, you'll be able to obtain an adequate quantity of protein with a strictly plant-based diet.

Are meat proteins better than plant proteins? Absolutely not! Amino acids from plants and meat are identical in chemical structure and used in the body in exactly the same way.

Are vegetarians healthy? When comparing vegetarians with meat-eaters, studies consistently show that vegetarians are healthier. Vegetarians have a lower incidence of many kinds of diseases such as coronary artery disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and gout.

Here's how to calculate your total protein needs for the day. The average male/female requires about 40 to 70 grams of protein per day.

If you are normal weight: Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.454 to get your weight in kilograms (kgs). Multiply this figure by 0.8 to get the total grams of protein you'll need for the day. For example, if your weight is 175 pounds, then 175 x 0.454 = 79.45 kgs x 0.8 = 63 grams of protein per day. Add 5% if you're trying to build muscle: 63 grams x 0.05 = 3 grams of extra protein.

If you are more than 10 pounds overweight - Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.454 to get your weight in kilograms (kgs). Multiply this figure by 0.7 to get the total grams of protein you'll need for the day. For example, if your weight is 190 pounds but you feel you are more than 10 pounds overweight, then multiply 190 x 0.454 = 86.26 kgs x 0.7 = 60 grams of protein per day. Add 5% if you're trying to build muscle: 60 grams x 0.05 = 3 grams of extra protein.

Note: You may want to tally the total amount of protein you eat each day by using the Nutrition Facts labels on packages. But remember to count the protein in all of the food you eat including vegetables and grain products, like bread, pasta, and cereals. Most vegetables contain 2 grams of protein per 1/2 cooked cup. Fruit is not a source of protein.

How do I begin?

1. Decrease the amount of meat you're eating and begin substituting with soy, peanut butter, and cheese. All three are meat substitutes. Instead of a beef burger, replace it with a soy burger and a slice of soy cheese. Instead of a pizza with pepperoni and sausage, try vegy pepperoni (it looks and tastes like the real thing!) or just leave the meat off. A cheese pizza is suitable for lacto-ovo vegetarians, but not for vegans. Be sure to read the list of ingredients on food packages! You'll be surprised to find many vegetable products with added chicken fat.

2. Include more fruit, vegetables, and grains in your diet. Grains are wheat, corn, oats, barley, and rye. Some foods made from these are pasta, bread, cereal, pancakes, waffles, and spaghetti. For a vegan breakfast, add a sweet topping to pancakes consisting of fresh fruit or canned fruit packed in syrup. When eating in a restaurant, order Eggplant Parmesan instead of Veal Parmesan. Ask for potato skins without the added meat and bacon and request a topping of beans instead. Be sure to try some popular Mexican foods with corn, beans, and rice like a bean burrito wrapped in a corn tortilla with refried rice.

3. Where do I find vegetarian foods? There are no special foods that are considered vegetarian. You can make any food product vegetarian simply by eliminating the meat. The pizza above is a lacto vegetarian pizza because it contains no animal products other than cheese. Vegan pizzas made with soy cheese can be purchased frozen, already made. By eliminating hamburger from spaghetti sauce and replacing with meatless ground soy or vegy meatballs, you now have a vegan sauce, and by adding Parmesan cheese as a topping, you now have a lacto vegetarian sauce. An egg salad sandwich with chips makes a great ovo vegetarian lunch. Vegy burgers and vegy dogs can be found, along with many other meatless products, in the cold foods and frozen section of your grocery store. Instead of bacon or sausage, serve vegy bacon or vegy sausage with your eggs in the morning for an ovo vegetarian breakfast.

The following is a list of plant foods that form complementary proteins:

 Complementary Proteins

Combine this food - - -

- - - with this
to make a complete protein
(beans, nuts, peas)
+Sesame + Soybeans + Wheat
Soybeans +Wheat + Sesame
+Rice + Wheat
+Sesame + Peanuts
+Peanuts + Wheat + Rice
Sesame +Lima Beans
Brazil Nuts +Green Beans
+Green Peas
+Brussels Sprouts
(Wheat, Rye, Corn, Oats, Rice, Millet, Barley - includes macaroni products, pasta, cornbread,
oatmeal, rice and bread pudding, cereals, soy-based foods)
+Greens (kale, spinach, etc)
+Most vegetables
Mushrooms +Lima Beans
+Green Peas
+Brussels Sprouts
Peanuts +Wheat
+Sesame + Soybeans
Sesame Seeds + Rice
Rice +Brewer's Yeast

Where do you get your nutrition information? Most states now have licensure laws for Dietitians and Nutritionists. Be sure your nutrition advisor is "Licensed" by the State as a Licensed Dietitian (LD) or Licensed Nutritionist (LN), or in states that don't have licensure laws, a Registered Dietitian.




CarboH, Inc.
Barbara Herondorf, L.D.

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