Increasing numbers of young people are choosing to become vegetarian knowing that up to 20 per cent of harmful gases to the atmosphere come from cows and other farmed animals.
First, let me clarify that not all vegetarians stick to strictly plant-based diet.
Semi-vegetarians eat some chicken and fish, pesco vegetarians east fish and seafood in general, ovo-lacto vegetarians avoid poultry, seafood but eat cheese and eggs, and rink milk, vegans avoid anything derived form animals including honey and gelatine.
Restrictive diets must be well planned to compensate for missing proteins.
Beans, soy foods, tofu, nuts, nut butters and a combination of beans and vegetables provide sufficient protein for a healthy body.
Iron deficiency has been recognized as a main cause of North American youths’ low energy levels, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating. (I have seen many listless a student in my teaching career, and even more who had difficulty concentrating).
Lentils, beans, dried fruits, egg yolks, contain sufficient amounts of iron for am healthy diet. Calcium crucial for growth and healthy bones, available in fortified soy and rice beverages, fortified orange juice, kale, dark green vegetables and nuts.
Cheese is an excellent source of calcium. Do not forget to include at least 200 I.U vitamin D in your daily diet. Old people, dark skinned individuals, and pregnant women may need additional doses of vitamin D to complement for lack of it. (One cup of cows milk provides 100 I.U vitamin D, one cup of fortified orange juice 100, one egg 25, 2/3 tbsp margarine 50, 100 grams of canned salmon 480).
Zinc needed in very small quantities, can be obtained from miso, tofu, soy, beans, lentils, whole grins and nuts.
B12 is available from animal sources.
Vegans need to eat fortifies soy or rice beverages, or they should take supplements in the form of tablets.