For more information about vegetarian nutrition, see How to Keep Your Body Happy
1. PROTEIN. How can I get enough protein from a pure vegetarian diet? That's a real concern for me.
1. Excellent sources of assimilable protein are vegetables, nuts, beans, legumes, and grains. Tofu is another. Be careful, however, in your consumption of protein, as too much of it washes calcium from the body, dramatically decreasing bone density. Excess protein is the main cause of osteoporosis. The most effective means of restoring a positive calcium balance is not by increasing your calcium intake, but by decreasing the amount of protein in your diet!
2. TOFU. Tofu? The mere thought of it is appalling.
2. That's probably because you've never eaten it prepared properly! It's pretty flavorless, so it combines easily into some absolutely delicious dishes from spaghetti sauces to party dips to desserts. After you become familiar with it, you can learn how to dress it up in hundreds of ways. Your body will love you for it! Tofu is a marvelous source of Vitamin B12, iron, sodium, and potassium and easily digested protein. High quality tofu can also contain more calcium, ounce for ounce, than milk.
3. VITAMIN B12. I understand that vitamin B12 is necessary for the nervous system and for building blood, and that meat is the only dietary source. What is the source of B12 in the vegetarian diet?
3. Actually, this precious vitamin is needed by all animals, carnivore and herbivore alike. Its original source are the microorganisms found naturally in our mouths and intestines and mixed with our food. Since our daily requirement of B12 is less than one-millionth of a gram, the millions of microbes found in our mouths and intestinal tracts provide most of the B12 we need. Food-wise, tofu, of course is a natural source of B12. Another rich (and delicious!) source of B12 for meat-eater and vegetarian alike, is nutritional yeast (not baker's yeast), which adds a nutty flavor to many dishesa scintillating addition sprinkled over popcorn!
4. DAIRY PRODUCTS If I take dairy products out of my diet, how will my body get adequate calcium?
4. Stop a minute. Cows and elephants are vegetarians. Where do they get the calcium needed to grow their huge bones? From plants, of course. Only plants. The richest source of calcium is an abundance of fresh, raw, greens. See PROTEIN and TOFU, above
5. CANOLA OIL I understand there is a controversy about the benefits of canola oil.
5. I go into detail about this in Chapter 5, Salads & Dressings, in the section on 'oils.' I end it by saying, "it [canola oil] seems to be in everything these days, I read all labels carefully in order to avoid it. I would never put it in my body intentionally."
6. CHOLESTEROL What is cholesterol anyway? I understand our bodies need it, and that animal products are the only source.
6. Cholesterol is an important a building block for cell membranes, a fat-soluble substance synthesized by the liver, intestines, and other tissues. The body itself produces between 500 and 1000 milligrams of cholesterol per day, which is all we need.
The only dietary source of cholesterol is an animal product. Persons in affluent societies often take in an additional 500 to 2000 milligrams a day from animal products. Because cholesterol has a chemical structure that is very resistant to breakdown, it can end up being stored in the body for years. It often ends up as plaque build-up in the arteries, narrowing them, restricting blood flow, resulting in arteriosclerosis and/or a heart attack. Twice as many persons die from heart-and blood-vessel disease than from all cancers combined.
7. ISNT MEAT A NATURAL FOOD? People have been eating meat for centuries. What makes you say it isn't a natural food?
7. There are a few issues to consider: The numerous drugs that are injected into cattle, pigs, and chickens (hormones, stimulants, antibiotics, etc.) go right into the flesh-that-becomes-meat. Animals that are natural vegetarians (cows, pigs, chickens for instance) are being fed rendered (recycled ) animals that come from such sources as diseased cattle, or animals from animal shelters that had to be euthanized. You might also consider the dramatic spread of such diseases as Creutzville- Jacob Disease (Mad Cow Disease ), Hoof and Mouth Disease, Salmonella bacteria in fowl, and elevated amounts of mercury in fish. Recently, the FDA warned pregnant women to avoid eating fish entirely, particularly tuna, because of the alarmingly high mercury content.
Comparing our anatomical structure alongside that of a natural carnivore:
Our hands are designed for gathering; carnivores have claws that rip flesh apart.
Our teeth are designed for grinding; the teeth of a carnivore are designed for tearing flesh.
Carnivores have short intestinal tracts that rapidly digest flesh and excrete the remnants. Our intestinal tract is long like other herbivores, and flesh foods often don't digest or excrete at all, but remain in the intestines for long periods of time, and eventually putrefy.
My overall suggestion about food and health is that you look at who is telling you what's good for you. If it's the Canadian Oil Council (after whom canola oil was named), the National Dairy Council, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Egg Board, or the National Pork Board, you might consider the fact that by recommending their products they have something in mind other than your health.