How to become a vegetarian

How to become a vegetarian

Have you ever wondered why people are vegetarian? I describe why it is important to reflect on our diet. I am a vegetarian and would like to motivate others to take this step. Wealth causes a lot of chronic diseases because of a diet that is off balance. It is undeniable that we opt for industrial food instead of natural food. What we buy in the supermarket is often made longer tenable, is quickly and cheaply produced and contains substances that are unhealthy. More and more people are considering to become a vegetarian. Living as a vegetarian makes you healthier and more aware of the life you live, because you live it only ones right? I’ve putted some facts together.

What types of vegetarianism are there?
A vegetarian diet means usually a diet that is composed mainly or exclusively by plant food. A vegetarian avoids without exception all meat from animals and in most cases also fish. The aim of a vegetarian is to pursuit plants and foods of living animals as a daily diet. There are a number of different types of vegetarianism:

  • The most severe type is represented by the vegans. The vegans eat only plants and do not use animal products like wool, leather, silk and animal tested cosmetics.
  • A more flexible type is formed by the lacto-vegetarians, which diet also include milk and dairy products in addition to plant foods, but no eggs.
  • Another type consists of the ovo-lacto vegetarians who eat eggs besides plant foods, milk and milk products.
  • Pesco-vegetarians avoid meat and poultry, but do eat fish.

In addition to these species, there are more variants. The above types of vegetarianism are only valuable to your health if no deficiency diseases and shortages of essential nutrients occur. I’ll come back on this later. I add myself to the pesco-vegetarians, but eat once a week exclusively from wild catch fish, and try to avoid eating farmed fish.

What are several reasons to become a vegetarian?
There are many different reasons for choosing vegetarianism. I give attention to a number of considerations, from my own point of view, including from a health, economic and ethical point of view.

  • Vegetarianism from a health point of view

Most people choose because of health reasons to become a vegetarian. A change in our eating habits have pulled our diet largely out of balance. Due to a rising income it became possible to increase the consumption of animal protein in the form of meat, sausage, eggs and dairy products. This brought a change in the composition of the daily diet. Eating animal protein used to be a sign of wealth and luxury. In the course of time people started to consider meat necessary for health through explanatory advertising a status symbol by eating animal protein. Meanwhile we eat meat every day like we cannot do without it. Of course, this is not the case, we can do without it or eat and produce it in a normal way.

The industrial supply increases animals in order to meet the demand, they lofts animals to satisfy our own selfish need for a lot of meat. We now eat eight times more meat than hundred years ago. The consequences are well noticeable. We let advertising influence us in the way we eat things. Often the advertising industry aren’t so eager for the human health, it is mainly about the merits of money. We are increasingly suffering from lifestyle diseases such as obesity, lack of vital substances and cardiovascular disease. The radical decision to become a vegetarian is more than worth it for our own health.

  • Vegetarianism from an economic point of view

The abundant production of meat in order to provide the so called developed countries of food brings significant problems with it. The most of us are already well aware of this problem, but it is still difficult to make things better as an individual. The abundant meat brings disadvantage into the world economic, I will explain you why.

Back in the days a farmer could hold only a limited number of animals. The number was dependent on the amount of food he could muster with its fields and pastures. At that time, meat was expensive and was only occasionally on the menu. Meat was a privilege of the rich. The farmer earned most of his money to the sale of agricultural crop. Today this is no longer profitable, with today’s low meat prices it will be the death of a modest farmer working like the old days. Things has become wholesale.

The industry has created a situation that animals has become competitors of the human food. For example three quarters of the bread cereal crop is fed to animals. The richer the country, the more bread will be feed to animals. The abundant meat production from rich countries help to disrupt the meat markets in poor countries. The export of living animals and meat surpluses from rich countries, succumbing indigenous meat markets of poor countries at dumping prices and work further impoverishment in hand.

Rainforests in South America are also victim of the todays agriculture. Agriculture is also responsible for massive climate-related emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and carbon monoxide. Another unnecessary due to a bubble which is created by the luxuries lives of many people.

  • Vegetarianism from an ethical point of view

As long as our planet produces enough plant foods to preserve the human species and we can live without meat, animals should not be slain in the level of nowadays consumption. Science proves that life without the supply of animal protein is not only possible, but even conducive to health.

We have no relationship with the animals we eat. They are reared in pens and treated as products. In the case of pets, we develop an emotional connection and do not justify on eating them later on. We shut ourselves emotionally off from the animals we breed for consumption and then we buy them as a hunk of meat for a small amount of money in the supermarket or fast-food restaurants.

The slaughterhouses are hidden from public view as much as possible, the animals are kept in stables and fences, treated without much respect, grown as fast as possible to meet the market demands. I could agree with this system when we treat animals with respect, but with nowadays artificial low prices this is no longer possible. We are used to paying so little, paying more for meat will be difficult to accept in affluent countries.

As long as poultry and other farm animals are denied expression of their own nature, constrained to the point of pain and ill-health and, ultimately, reduced to nothing but “food processors” for human convenience and taste, I will motivate myself and others to become a vegetarian.

How to switch to vegetarianism?
First, it is important to be aware of the difficulties you are waiting as a vegetarian. Thus it is important to know exactly what substances the body needs when meat is eaten no more. I write about this later on. A vegetarian should be able to deal with criticism, not everyone appreciates idealists fighting for a world without the current treatment of animals and meat.

  • Select the type of vegetarianism that suits you

You are in my opinion a successful vegetarian if you make a conscious choice in how you deal with nutrition. Some choose to eat meat just once a week and others even avoid eating eggs and drinking milk. I encourage people to think at least once in your life about what you eat and why you eat it. This ensures that we deal less selfish and with more respect towards mother nature.

  • Know how to defend yourself as a vegetarian

You will undoubtedly encounter criticism of vegetarianism. Vegetarians make the conscious choice to fight for a better world as an individual. If you can properly defend yourself towards criticism then you will not only motivate yourself but also others in a more healthy lifestyle.

  • Provide a fully-fledged alternative diet

Our body need substances in order to stay healthy. If we consume too little of a particular substance, it will lower our resistance. In the long term this can be harmful to our health. So be aware of what substances you do not take and how you will replace them with plant nutrition when becoming a vegetarian. Read later in this article on alternative substances for meat.

  • From processed food to raw food

There are a lot of different products that are industrially processed for any reason whatsoever. Know that the fresher and more raw a product is, the richer the vitamins are. The fact is, the longer you wait to eat vegetables, the more substances are lost. Machining products in order to make them longer tenable is therefore a detriment of the quality of the product.

How to replace meat and fish by a full vegetarian diet?
In tradition a good meal consists of three components: meat or fish, potatoes or other starch component and vegetables. In meat and fish you will find the nutrients: protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins including B12, calcium, vitamin D, amino acid lysine, amino acid taurine and omega 3 fatty acids. To replace a full vegetarian diet we need these substances from other products. In the following list I will offer vegetables to replace animal protein.

  • Proteins

Proteins are large biological molecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins are found in cheese (preferably low-fat cheese because of the saturated fats), legumes (peas, beans and lentils) , nuts, seeds and grains.

  • Iron

Iron is a mineral that occurs in food in two forms: as heme iron and non-heme iron . Iron is important for the formation of hemoglobin, which is needed for the transport of oxygen in the blood and the metabolism. Heme iron is only found in animal products and is readily available to the body than non-heme iron which comes from plant food. For a vegetarian, it is important to pay good attention to the iron content in the body because vegetarians take only non-heme iron. This iron can be found in legumes , nuts, dried fruits and broccoli.

  • Zinc

Zinc is also an important nutrient to pay attention to as a vegetarian. Zinc is in fact less rapidly absorbed from plant nutrients. Just as iron is zinc also found in legumes, nuts, seeds, but also in roots and brewer’s yeast.

  • B vitamins

B vitamins are found in whole grain cereals and dairy products. Dairy products are even better for the absorption of B vitamins than meat. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products such as milk , cheese and eggs. Vegans can possibly take vitamin B12 supplement tablets.

  • Calcium sources

The best-known sources of calcium are milk and cheese . Milk is often recommended for the absorption of calcium, the downside of this is that milk contains a lot of saturated fats. Vegetables with lots of oxalic acid (spinach, rhubarb, purslane) usually have a high content of calcium. Rich sources of calcium with a high amount include: kale, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, apricots, turnip greens, hazelnuts and sea vegetables.

  • Vitamin D

Only without adequate sunlight exposure, it is important to keep notice of the vitamin D level in our body. Vitamin D is found in various types of cabbage, nettles, oranges, yeast and wheat germ oil.

  • Lysine (amino acid)

Lysine is an essential amino acid, it cannot be made by the body itself and must therefore be present in our food. The amino acid is required for growth, tissue repair, the production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes. Legumes contain lysine and also milk, lima beans, cheese , yeast and egg sources.

  • Taurine (amino acid)

The significance of taurine for the body is located in the maintenance of organ and cell functions. For example, it is important for your heart muscle. Taurine is a substance that our body can make by itself. Taurine is not found in vegetable food , except in a certain kind of seaweed. Find it also in eggs and to a lesser extent, in milk products. A chemical variation of taurine can be found in energy drinks.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

Strictly speaking, only the omega -3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic is essential. It is to say that this fatty acid, as well as vitamins (with the exception of vitamin D) cannot be made by our body. Omega 3 fatty acids are often sold as dietary supplements of fish oil. Also milk and eggs contain omega 3 fatty acids. Plant sources include papaya, green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes.

What are the essential nutritional needs for a long-distance cyclist?
Cycling is an endurance sport and the body thereby consumes a lot of energy . Our body gets the energy it needs from fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is the collective name for all sugars. If you moderate your efforts, the proportion fats will be greater than the proportion of carbohydrates. When you’re cycling more intensive you will burn more carbohydrates. With a maximum effort you will burn mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important for cyclists.

Take carbohydrates with little fat before you’re going cycling. For example multigrain bread (starch), granulated sugar, syrup, honey, candy, chocolate, fruit juices, fruit juices, sweet spreads and other cereals. Gingerbread with apple syrup (jam) also contains a lot of carbohydrates .

Aa a cyclist yu sweat a lot and therefore it is important to drink a lot of water. When you add a pinch of salt to the water it helps to be withdrawn into the body. Do it yourself sport drinks can be made by mixing water with a little bit syrup together with a pinch of salt (half a teaspoon per 750 ml). In a long-distance trip you need to have a various food supply, through a varied diet the body gets enough nutrients and therefor is staying healthy.

Will individual vegatarianism ever change anything?
Many people wonder what the point is to rigidly adhere to a vegetarian diet that never will have influence on the society as a whole. I’m not necessarily happy with compassion for a flop chicken. I’m happy of a society filled with individuals who have a philosophy of life. A philosophy of life in which the quality of their own lives and the lives of others (including animals) is central.

If, on the one hand, we condemn modern agriculture because it involves the killing of life to sustain life, do we run the risk of furthering the fundamental fallacy: that we human beings are not really part of nature; we stand outside and redesign nature by human-made rules? On the other hand, outrage at the cruel treatment of farm animals by “agribussines” can lead to question the whole notion of human beings as outside nature. When we reconnect with our place in nature, we may well rediscover respectful patterns of interacting with, and even consuming, animals that have long been sources of human sustenance.

I’ve considered to just leave all these problems to the government and other leaders, the so called experts. To block out the bad news and hope that someone from somewhere change the agriculture in a more sufficient way. With this approach never ever will change someone anything because the experts are locked in a system. The solution can come only from people that are less locked in then the experts, the experts are also just ordinairy people like you and me. Only when we discover that we have both the capacity and the rights to particpate in making society’s important decisions, will solutions emerge.

Remember, we can’t change the system as an individual, but the system can be changed by individuals.

To get this information, I have read the book “Zo word ik vegetariër!” from author Helma Danner and “Diet for a Small Planet” from author Frances Moore Lappe. I also used Wikipedia and various nitrition sites as resources.