Vegetarian Diet: 9 Most Frequently Asked Questions

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Elena Szeliga

Recipe developer, food photographer, stylist & blogger at Happy Kitchen.Rocks
Hi, I’m Elena, an expat recipe developer, cook and photographer behind the food blog Happy Kitchen.Rocks. My blog is all about delicious and healthy international food that is easy to make. I use natural ingredients, seasonal fruits and veggies, whole grains and lots of spices and herbs. I embrace the healthful nutrition and delicious food and I enjoy sharing my recipes with my readers. Head to my blog to get inspired!
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According to the Meat Atlas (see page 56), around the world there are more than 175 million people are following some form of vegetarian diet. In India, it is estimated that 40% of the population is vegetarian! Plant diets are known to have many health benefits including reduced risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancers.

With so many people around the world adhering to some form of plant-based eating plan, and many more considering the approach for health, ethical or environmental reason, I thought it would be a good time to address some of the most frequently asked questions about vegetarian diets. So here we go!

1. What is the Definition of Vegetarianism?

Vegetarianism is a diet that generally excludes meat, poultry, and fish. It is a diet that is comprised of plants foods, including, fruit, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and vegetables.

There are different types of vegetarians. Veganism is the strictest form and excludes all foods and by products that come from animals (eggs, honey, dairy), and they do not use any products made from animals, like silk and leather. Some vegetarians choose to include or exclude eggs or dairy from their menu plans. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy while ovo-vegetarians will consume eggs.

food-salad-healthy-vegetables

2. Do Vegetarians Use Animal-based Materials?

While vegans will not eat or use any products that are derived from animals, vegetarians typically do not mind making use of such animal products as wool or leather goods. Veganism is more a philosophy than a diet that holds a general reverence for life of any kind.

3. What is Pescetarianism?

Pescetarianism is a type of vegetarian diet that includes vegetables, whole grains and fruits as well as fish in the menu.

4. What Type of Foods are Used to Replace Meat in the Vegetarian Diet?

Foods that replace meats may include soy products, like tofu and tempeh. Additionally, some vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds ad many beans are quality protein sources. Each of these plant proteins contain the building blocks of protein, known as amino acids. Amino acids contribute to the repair of cells and muscle growth. These days, there are also a wide variety of faux-meat products like tofu dogs, “chik’n” nuggests, and veggie burgers, among many others.

vegetarian-fruit-and-vegetable-salad

5. How Much Protein is Contained in Vegetarian Foods? How Does It Compare to Beef?

Following a healthy vegetarian eating plan, utilizing a variety of plant-based proteins, it is quite simple to ensure you are getting a healthy amount of protein in day-to-day rountine.

Protein varies in vegetarian foods, based on the category and the portion size. However, most foods will provide you, on average with 8 to 15 grams of protein. Soy foods provide the highest amount of protein with edamame containing 29 grams (as much as beef) and tempeh offering 21 grams for each 4-ounce serving. Complete sources of protein, or those that contain all nine essential amino acids, include quinoa, soybeans, buckwheat and hemp seed.

6. What Fruits Contain the Highest Amounts of Protein?

While vegetables and legumes contain more protein than fruits, several fruits are a good source of protein for anyone wishing to avoid meat. The USDA lists the following as some of the highest sources of protein per 100 g serving:

  • Goji Berries – 14.26 g protein
  • Dehydrated Apricots & Peaches – 4.9 g protein
  • Currants – 4.8 g protein
  • Dehydrated Bananas – 3.89 g protein
  • Raisins – 2.5 – 3.4 g protein
  • Dates – 2.45 g protein
  • Avocados – 2.23 g protein
  • Passion fruit – 2.2 g protein

7. Why Do Vegetarians Limit their Protein Consumption?

It is important to remember that, although it is most common to be concerned about protein replacements when first transitioning to a vegetarian diet, adding fruits and vegetables to your daily eating habits does more than supply you with protein – it also provides you with a host of other nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that you can’t get from animal products.

High protein intake has actually been proven unhealthful. A vegetarian diet is naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrates and provides just the right amount of protein in such sources as soy, legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains. Contrary to popular belief, high levels of protein actually contribute to health issues and other diseases.

8. What Health Problems Result When Protein Intakes Are Too High?

High protein levels in the diet can lead to such health conditions as osteoporosis, cancer, kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease. High protein consumption can also encourage urinary calcium loss. When eaten in beef, a high amount protein can lead to the development of heterocyclic amines, substances that are known to cause cancer over time.

9. What are the Recommended Servings for Each Food Group in a Vegetarian Diet?

Loma Linda University Vegetarian Food Pyramid
Source: By [[User:LaKeisha Eason|LaKeisha Eason–98.212.107.72 23:06, 13 September 2012 (UTC)]] (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
These are just a few of the most frequently asked questions about vegetarian diets that I hear. If you have any questions that I may have missed, please leave them in the comments below! With enough demand, perhaps there will be a Part 2 to this post!

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Post Author: Elena Szeliga

Hi, I’m Elena, an expat recipe developer, cook and photographer behind the food blog Happy Kitchen.Rocks. My blog is all about delicious and healthy international food that is easy to make. I use natural ingredients, seasonal fruits and veggies, whole grains and lots of spices and herbs. I embrace the healthful nutrition and delicious food and I enjoy sharing my recipes with my readers. Head to my blog to get inspired!

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