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Be Vegetarian

by BD Basu(more info)

listed in vegetarianism, originally published in issue 173 - August 2010

Non-vegetarian foods are tasty, but vegetarian foods are luscious and healthy. Many people are now totally biased towards vegetarian food and some of them still give enough logic to support non-vegetarian food due to the abundant availability of protein and fatty acids in it. To a certain extent, this is correct; however vegetarian diets are balanced, complete and healthy.

Selection of vegetables

All over the world, the trend now is to rely on vegetarian foods as much as possible. This is known as vegetarianism. Statistics shows that more and more people are now opting for a diet which is devoid of fish, meat, eggs, etc. Why do you like to be a strict vegetarian? Many adopt this dietary habit because of various reasons, including health, religion, economic and ethics.

Meat-based diets have certain usefulness. But, arguments in support of a vegetarian diet have compelling benefits. The safest way to eat is to follow a vegetarian diet without hormones and additives. Meat carries bacteria, and the potential hazard of diseases are associated with them. On the contrary, beans, grains and leafy vegetables do not contain this risk at all. But one should not forget that vegetables and fruits, though very ideal from the health point of view, nowadays are treated with pesticides. So, a slight risk factor will always be there, if vegetables and fruits are not properly washed and cooked before consumption.

Rich in Nutrients

Vegetarian foods are rich in nutrients. This reduces the gravity of chronic diseases. Lacto-vegetarians maintain superb health. They are healthier than many people who are prone to a diet of meats and fishes.

Plant based diets which contain whole grains, nuts, fruits and leafy vegetables are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. These foods are rich in fibre, vitamin C, foliate potassium, magnesium and phytochemicals. These ingredients invariably give protection from many diseases. These diets also reduce the risk of being attacked by hypertension which is very detrimental for health, particularly, for older people. If you are regularly eating these types of vegetarian foods, chances of being afflicted with type 2 diabetes mellitus will be lowered. Diets which are low in fibre and contain chicken and meat as the principal ingredients can increase the incidence of colorectal cancers.

Plant foods carry abundant phyto-chemicals which are known as polyphenols. These foods contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These substances, as per the recent research, maintain the integrity of brain function at old age. Research data shows that people who are habituated to eat leafy vegetables and fruits remain more active with respect to neurology at their older age.

Vegetarian diets are very helpful to control body weight. It also reduces weight. Further, these foods increase longevity. Plant foods are low in energy and are rich in nutrients. Diets containing animal products are generally rich in fat and have high calorie value.

Vegans: They avoid completely animal products. They even don't consume milk and its products. Some vegans even do not touch products of animal origin such as leather, wood and silk.

Lacto-vegetarian: They consume dairy products along with their diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts. But, they do not eat meat or eggs.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: They eat both egg and dairy products.

Pesco-vegetarians: They include fish in their diets.

Plan Carefully

If you restrict your diet to a very limited quantity, then it is difficult to acquire all the nutrients needed by your body. Vegetarian diets should therefore be balanced, complete and healthy. As per the American Dietetic Association, appropriately planned vegetarian diets are very much helpful to keep you healthy and may save you from the brunt of certain diseases. They also say that these diets are nutritionally beneficial to make you agile, stay fit and less stressed. Further, well planned vegetarian diets are suitable for all people at all stages of their life including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, and adolescence.

The most restrictive vegan diets may be slightly compromised on minerals namely calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and sometimes protein.

Non-vegetarian people curse vegetarian diets, but it is not at all boring or limiting. You can prepare a variety of vegetarian recipes from the plant foods and surprise your family members and friends.

If you are not that interested to consume exclusively vegetarian foods, try out the combinations of both types with maximum intake of vegetables, fruits and limiting the consumption of animal foods. We all are indebted to our great scientist Einstein. He said, "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

Plan Your Diet

So, how to go about to plan for a vegetarian diet? It is very easy to get nutritious value from vegetarian foods. It only needs proper planning of dieting. The main criterion is how to select these foods.
  • Ensure a variety of foods from different food groups namely cereals, pulses, nuts, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. If you select these foods carefully, you do not have to worry about nutritional inadequacies;
  • Plant proteins alone cannot increase the value of proteins needed for your health. You have to eat these proteins with cereal proteins. For example, the intake of pulses, beans and nuts in every meal is advisable. Soya or soya products also can be eaten to supplement protein adequacy;
  • You have to eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables to ensure fulfilment of the adequacy of minerals, vitamins, fibre and phyto-chemicals to maintain health. You have to consume a lot of green leafy vegetables which provide iron. You may include a citrus fruit to improve upon the absorption of iron;
  • For your body and particularly bones, you need calcium and vitamin B 12. You get these from dairy products. Fermented foods also provide vitamin B12. You must focus your attention on calcium rich plant foods namely pulses and greens;
  • While using oils, you must be very cautious because it plays a crucial role for your heart system. You must use oils containing a high percentage of mono saturated fatty acids. Olive oil, rice bran, soya oil are good for preparation of healthy diets;
  • Occasionally, you can supplement your vegetarian diets with the intake of fishes;
  • Fish is the best source to obtain omega 3 fatty acids. This fatty acid gives a protective effect for cardiac muscle. People who are fond of eating meats but wish to get rid of it can switch over to fishes. Leafy vegetables, walnuts, flax seeds also provide omega 3 fatty acids.

Eat Smart

Smart eating is an important factor of our lives. It starts with the right intake of foods namely fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. To keep the nutritional impact of these ingredients, you must prepare the foods accordingly. For example, steamed broccoli is very healthy. On the contrary, deep fried broccoli is not.

The following tips will help you to check the maximum benefits of wholesome foods.


Value: This gives enough lycopene and this compound is very effective to reduce heart disease and some types of cancers.

Method of preparation: Cooked or processed tomatoes increase the bioavailability of lycopene which your body can easily absorb. Cooked tomatoes when consumed with a small amount of oil or fat - tomato sauce or cheese on a pizza - are helpful to increase the rate of absorption. Of course, health benefits are completely downgraded, if you top the pizza with a huge quantity of fatty substances such as tomato sauce and cheese. Proper cooking of tomatoes also helps the absorption of carotenoids, antioxidants present in yellow, red and light orange tomatoes.


Value: When you crush garlic, a compound called Allicin is released. This improves heart functioning and helps to prevent some types of cancers.

Method of preparation: Crush or cut the garlic into small sizes to get allicin released from Garlic. If you cook the food at high temperature, the value of this compound is completely destroyed. So, you have to cook at a moderate temperature to keep its value intact. Further, you can garnish soups and salads with crushed garlic. You may think, why to invite hassles of proper method of cooking, why not to swallow garlic pills, which is the easiest way? Then, you are completely mistaken. The garlic pills are less fragrant as compared to raw garlic, and a structured study conducted in the year of 2002 by some American researches shows that many garlic pill supplements do not contain the required amount of allicin. Also, certain pills which are processed supplements, destroys or weakens allicin.


Value: You can get plenty of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and cancer fighting lignans from this ingredient.

Method of preparation: It is a fact that our body cannot easily digest flaxseeds and so you need to grind them using a small electric coffee grinder. This ground flaxseed is to be stored in the refrigerator to slow down the oxidation. Flaxseed produces nutty flavour. You add this to muffins, sprinkle on oatmeal, mix with salad or simply add chilly to increase the taste.

Herbs and Spices:

Value: These items are rich sources of antioxidants. If you cook with healthy seasonings, you may not need salt because all these herbs and spices itself serve the purpose of salt. In this way, salt can be avoided while cooking.

Method of preparation: Fresh and quality herbs and spices are always to be consumed because they contain more antioxidants than dried ones. If you use dry variety, then rub them between your fingers to release the oils which carry the nutritious value.

You have to preserve herbs and spices in a cool, dry place and replace them, when the same lose their colour and aromas.


Value: Vegetables reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and also lower blood pressure.

Method of preparation: Do not boil vegetables because the nutritious value is destroyed. Roast them at medium temperature. You can also fry, sauté or steam. You may boil provided you consume the liquid for example, soups and stews.

Cutting vegetables in small and uniform pieces make cooking faster and also keep the nutrients intact.  

Vegetables must be purchased locally so that fresh and quality products are cooked. This will not only increase the taste of the vegetables but also decrease the nutrient loss.

Special Power of Vegetarian Diets

Some vegetable foods carry anti-ageing characteristics and these foods provide us basic nutrients to keep our body healthy. When you add foods in your diets that are high in antioxidants, you can somewhat delay the ageing factor. Antioxidants are available in fruits and vegetables including prunes, raisins, blue berries, black berries, straw berries, spinach and raspberries.

In addition to the above foods indicated, you must also include the following in your diet for healthy life and delay the effect of ageing.

Soybeans: These ingredients have isoflavones which prevent ageing generally caused by hormone imbalance. It protects from breast and prostrate cancers, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis and heart disease. If you are menopausal, soybeans will help you to manage your oestrogen levels.   

Berries: Eat all types of berries namely blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrant and black grapes. These all items carry phytochemicals which is a powerful antioxidant known to be great for health.

Nuts: These are rich in vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. Include a few of these nuts in your daily diet to delay ageing.

Curd and Honey: Curd or yoghurt is a great immunity booster and also a good digester. Honey helps prevent memory loss as well as anxiety.

We all pray to God to keep us healthy and wealthy. But how many of us follow the dietary pattern religiously. We all are slaves to our tongues and most of the times are attracted with spicy, pungent foods, junk fast foods, and late night rich non-vegetarian dinner. These not only increase the intensity of affliction due to sufferings from various diseases, but also make us prematurely aged, stressed and obsessed. To avoid all these hassles, the answer is only one which is to eat healthy vegetable foods, as stated above.


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About BD Basu

BD Basu BSc (Engg)-Mech MBA Dip Export MA (English)  is a native of India and is a Director (Contracts) with an engineering company named Anupam Industries Ltd., Anand, Gujarat, India, looking after the entire range of marketing and contracts' execution. The company is 35 years old and engaged in manufacturing of EOT, Goliath/Gantry, Ladle cranes. Mr Bosu is a member of the Writers Bureau, Manchester UK and a freelance writer writing in various genres namely management, health, spiritual, motivational and novels. He has completed two nonfiction e-books, In Search of Peace and 16 Wisdom to acquire Spiritual Happiness.’ Mr Basu has also written short books of around 7000 words on home furnishing, food and health after getting contracts from BD Basu may be contacted via,   Please view the BD Basu's writings at his Times of India blog

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