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Nutrition

The veggie nutrition question

Could vegetarianism be for you?

Last year, it was revealed that a quarter of Brits claimed to be cutting down on meat eating, with 34 per cent willing to think about eating less flesh. 

A sizeable proportion of young people - 17 per cent - were completely avoiding meat, the Eating Better alliance survey results also showed.

The Vegetarian Society's Liz O'Neil used the stats as a reason to tell the restaurant trade: "As more and more customers choose not to eat meat it’s the restaurants with variety, an imaginative menu and good customer service that will survive."

But it's not only the limited restaurant options she touched on that can sometimes work to put people off vegetarianism.

Worries about the social awkwardness that could come with having to tell people that you'll need special treatment at a dinner party, the general issue of meat eaters simply not understanding your choice and whether it's possible to get a fully varied diet as a veggie can all come to mind for people considering vegetarianism.  

But these are all things that don't have to be worries - and don't stop some of us embracing this way of living.

Nutrition

Needless to say, the Vegetarian Society says on its website that evidence shows being vegetarian can give people, whatever their age, all the nutrition they need.

For example, much of the protein a lot of us eat comes from fish and meat - which is often high in this.

But online the Society argues that it's not legitimate for people to worry that veggies don't get enough protein, giving soya and pulses, nuts and beans as some examples of meat-free protein sources. It also advises that legumes and cereals should be combined to balance every one of the essential amino acids in a diet.

Meanwhile, even non-veggies get most of their iron from non-meat foods, it argues. And dairy products are one example of a Vitamin B12 source it gives. The society also gives examples of linoleic acid sources and of alpha-linolenic acid sources that are veggie. 

Veggie motivations

Su Taylor, from the Society, has said that the biggest reasons for moving to the life of a veggie are linked to health, the environment and being concerned about animals.

"Statistics show that vegetarians are less likely than meat eaters to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and some other medical conditions. Eating a balanced vegetarian diet can bring blood pressure down, keep cholesterol in check and really can make you feel better inside and out," she said.

Done right, a veggie diet can mean you eat more fresh veggies, because these can take a much bigger role in diet, when meat and fish are off the table.

There are much talked-about healthy living advantages to eating plenty of veg. Indeed, A University College London study recently found that taking in seven portions of veg and fruit or more daily brought down people's risk of death at any point by more than two fifths.

Veggies had the biggest impact, as there was a 16 per cent fall in death risk with every extra portion, according to the study that appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health recently. Fresh fruit portions were associated with a four per cent reduction, on the other hand.

 
 
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