I know that vegetarianism and what people choose to eat can be an emotion-filled topic.

 

There are many reasons why people become vegetarians, be it environmental, ethical, health, religious or cultural. Whatever the reason, becoming vegetarian requires careful planning to ensure your body gets all the nutrients required to grow, be healthy and perform physically. Becoming vegetarian does not mean simply cutting out meat and many vegetarians end up getting their diets wrong by making vital mistakes.

 

Minerals & Vitamin Density

 

The term vegetarian, to me, means someone who predominantly eats vegetables. However, what I regularly see is that the main part of a vegetarian diet consists of pasta, bread, rice, dairy and other non-vegetable foods. To me this is a STARCHetarian — a huge mistake. Starchy foods hold very little mineral and vitamin content — empty calories, whereas vegetables are fibrous and nutrient-dense, full of antioxidants and nutrients that promote wellness and health. Everyone’s diet should mainly consist of mineral and vitamin (nutrient) dense foods that include a large variety of vegetables and good fats.

 

Vegetable Fats

 

Firstly, saturated fats are not bad for us. A 2009 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no association between saturated fats and heart disease when analysing research from 21 studies that incorporated 350,000 people. On the other hand vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and usually contain large amounts of trans fatty acids. Many studies have now demonstrated that vegetable oils can cause serious harm to your health.

 

Omega-6 oils are pro-inflammatory — inflammation leads to chronic disease. On the other hand omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and promote good health and cell function. World-leading performance nutritionist Charles Poliquin has commented that even with a smart vegetarian diet omega-3 fats (widely regarded as essential for health), can’t be gotten in large enough quantities from solely plant-based food sources.

 

Vegetarian Protein: Soy

 

Soy was promoted 20 years ago as the protein saviour of the vegetarian world. Therefore, now that more research has been conducted people are surprised to learn that the soybean itself is toxic to humans and livestock. It is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and approximately 90% of it is genetically modified. The properties of soy mimic oestrogen in our bodies and cause a host of health problems. Its known to promote breast and prostate cancer, alter brain function, suppress thyroid hormones and cause reproductive issues. Performance-wise, soy protein is proven to increase cortisol, decrease muscular strength, and lower testosterone. The sad thing is the only positive things I hear about soy comes from companies marketing soy or governments controlled by them.

 

Bad science over the last five decades has lead society to an epidemic of obesity and poor health. Mistakes that are now hard to rectify are public knowledge and part of our mindset. A leading nutritionist and strength coach, Mike Sheridan, points out six common myths regarding reasons for avoiding meat in your diet and turn to a vegetarian lifestyle:

 

“Eating meat won’t give you heart disease”. Saturated fat does not clog arteries and dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol.

“Not all fats are the same”. Vegetable fats are associated with heart disease; saturated fats are not.

“The widely quoted China Study is a farce”. Yet meat-free dieters use it to support their claims even though it’s been proven highly inaccurate.

“Vegans and vegetarians don’t stave off disease”. Their disease rates are not lower than that of meat-eating populations.

“Crops aren’t more ethical than raising cows”. They destroy land, use more resources than you’d imagine, and kill more animals than you know.

“Plant proteins aren’t effective proteins”. They cause more nutritional deficiencies than avoiding them altogether.

 

A vegetarian diet can be very healthy but there are some common mistakes made by a lot of people. Are you making these mistakes? A balanced diet is the best for achieving optimal health, wellbeing and performance, and vegetables should be the king of every meal.

 

Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems.com or through Star Fitness (starfitnesssaigon.com)

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Phil Kelly

Phil is an avid sportsman and loves most things fitness. With the final realisation that he would not be an All Black, he turned his full focus to studying the human body in regard to improving movement and posture, developing strength, function and performance, as well as scrutinising the conventional wisdom of nutrition for fat loss and performance. He loves challenging the 'norm' and is dedicated to the prosperity and health of his clients and the community. He has a mission to educate and empower people to "be all they can be" by providing accurate, research proven and industry leading information. 

Website: bodyexpertsystems.com

3 comments

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  • Comment Link Scott Green Scott Green Jun 08, 2017

    I appreciate your efforts to help people to make better food choices by encouraging your readers to eat more vegetables, however there are so many unsubstansiated claims here I feel I have to comment.

    I'm not a nutritionist but I would encourage readers and the author to look at the example of the California Adventist Vegeterians and the Okinawans. They are the heathiest and longest living communties on Earth and 98% of their diet is plant based.

    Also I'd like to mention that Wiilam C. Roberts the president of American college of caridiology has suggested that humans are better suited as herbiviores due to our inabilty to efficiently process saturated fat and cholesterol therfore greatly increasing our chances of cardiovascular diseases.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1312295/

    Is atherosclerosis a disease affecting all animals or only certain animals?

    Atherosclerosis affects only herbivores. Dogs, cats, tigers, and lions can be saturated with fat and cholesterol, and atherosclerotic plaques do not develop (1, 2). The only way to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore is to take out the thyroid gland; then, for some reason, saturated fat and cholesterol have the same effect as in herbivores.
    Are human beings herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

    Although most of us conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores (2). The appendages of carnivores are claws; those of herbivores are hands or hooves. The teeth of carnivores are sharp; those of herbivores are mainly flat (for grinding). The intestinal tract of carnivores is short (3 times body length); that of herbivores, long (12 times body length). Body cooling of carnivores is done by panting; herbivores, by sweating. Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; herbivores, by sipping. Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, whereas herbivores obtain it from their diet. Thus, humans have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.

    Lastly I would like the author and the word to recognise the increasingly awful affects that animal agriculture is having on our planet. Considering the awful environmental damage in Vietnam surely that would be a better read for your subcribers?

  • Comment Link Rob West Rob West Jun 06, 2017

    “Crops aren’t more ethical than raising cows”
    That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. May I inquire as to how one would feed cows being raised?

    I agree there is plenty of bad science out there. It is a tactic used by industries who wish to continue selling products, which have been proven to be bad for one's health.
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-buttering-up-the-public/

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