Not Just Tofu

Article: Are You a Healthy Vegetarian?

In Editorial on December 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I think that most people consider vegetarians healthy because they don’t eat meat.  If someone is a vegan, you might think that they are very healthy because their diet is so strict.  Vegetarian or vegan does not mean healthy just like skinny does not mean healthy.  Being a vegetarian or skinny just means that the odds of being healthy is better than those of the opposite. I started to think about this when I was watching the Today show a few months ago.  They did a feature about the hidden bad habits of skinny that make them unhealthy.  It made me think about what is  hidden in a vegetarian diet can cause them to be unhealthy.

First I thought about the meat substitutes; Vegetarians diets are flooded with processed products.  Lately we have been told that processed equals unhealthy and cause more bad than good.  After reading food labels of meat by products, I noticed is the high sodium percentage that averages 25% per serving. High sodium equals high blood pressure which is one of the highest killers in our society cause by diet. 

Secondly, I can not tell you important it is to read labels.  As a vegetarian, it is obvious that you won’t buy chicken, steak and for some of you fish.  Are you aware of the chicken fat or chicken broth that is used to flavor boxed or prepared sides and soups? Alvin hates plain rice, so I use to make boxed rice all the time.   I can’t tell you about the msg found in some of these products.  For instance, you use vegetable bouillon to flavor your soups and rice.  Did you know that most of them have msg in them?  MSG aka monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer but has also been linked to cancer.  Call me crazy but that doesn’t sound healthy.

Another thing making vegetarians unhealthy is how we are cooking our foods.  A lot of us are frying our food which we know can take a low-fat food to a high fat food in seconds.  If we are not frying it, we are hiding it under cups of cheese.  It may not be meat but it sure is not healthy.  In the transitional period, we depend on pizza and stir fries to get us through our craving for familiar flavors.  Satisfying your cravings is key, not satisfying it can cause to weight gain because you keep eating trying to fill the need. I am so guilty of this. We have to be conscious of our choices.

How do you know if you are a healthy vegetarian?

Vegetarian Food Pyramid

  1. Make sure that you are fulfilling the requirements of the Vegetarian Food Pyramid.
  2. When buying processed soy products, check the sodium count per serving.
  3. Read labels!  Look for hidden meat byproducts and MSG.
  4. Try not to fry or camouflage your veggies in cheese.

My best advice is to cook for yourself as much as possible.  When you cook for yourself, you are in control of what is going into your body.  If you do like to eat out, keep in mind why you became a vegetarian.  What’s the point of consciously making the decision to eat healthy if you  are not conscious about what is healthy?

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