Friday, August 24, 2012

Nutrient needs vital, but planning for healthy vegan diet is easy
Published on Aug 24, 2012

LAST Saturday's article ("Baby boomers, beware of going vegetarian") cites the increasing popularity of vegetarian diets in response to links between meat diets and such health problems as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
It cautions baby boomers about the need to plan their diets carefully if they choose to move away from meat.
I am a baby boomer, now aged 60.
I have been a vegetarian for more than 30 years and a vegan for the past 10 years; the difference being that a vegan is a vegetarian who eats no food from animals, such as dairy products or eggs.
I agree that vegetarians must pay attention to nutrients such as protein, calcium and vitamin B12 and there are bona fide bodies like the American Dietetic Association which offer planned diets for vegetarians (and everyone else).
Fortunately, planning a healthful, plant-based diet is easy, quick and inexpensive.
With the exception of vitamin B12, a vegetarian or vegan can obtain the necessary nutrients while enjoying a range of delicious, widely available plant foods.
For instance, calcium is found in sesame seeds, almonds, bok choy, broccoli, lady's finger (above), tempeh and tofu.
Also, some foods are fortified with nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12, and supplements are widely available.
While baby boomers were taught that animal-based foods were our only protein source while we were growing up, we know now that protein is also found in many plant foods, including beans, grains, nuts and seeds.
To me, the most powerful reason for eating only plant-based foods concerns not health but kindness towards our fellow animals.
In my lifetime, a major change has taken place in how animal foods reach our tables.
We live now in the era of the factory farm, where animals, even fishes, are crowded together in unnatural conditions during their increasingly short lives; for instance chickens live only six weeks.
I am happy to spend a little time planning my diet so that I can avoid participation in this cruel system of food supply and instead support a kinder way of eating.
George Jacobs