Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Famous Vegetarians

In my opinion, vegetarianism is a rapidly expanding diet trend, and like most other trends it is supported by a long list of celebrity advocates.

Celebrities have some kind of power over the consumer markets and tend to influence the decisions people make.  Katy Perry is noted for her "cute, girly, vintage" style, and next thing you know, every teenaged girl is sporting the same style.  Jessica Biel is seen practising yoga on the beach, and the relaxing meditation method becomes the "hottest" exercise.

You get the point, celebrities do something, and we mimic it.

Becoming vegetarian is one of those things that celebrities do and the public expresses an interest.  We have a strange inclination to follow the choices made by our favourite celebs.  It's almost as though they promote these trends, such as becoming vegetarian, just by doing it.

Celebrities have the ability to bring issues into the spotlight and generate public discussion.  When we hear that a well-known celebrity has recently adopted a vegetarian lifestyle we wonder why and we want to know more about their decision.

This interest leads to increased focus on vegetarianism and oftentimes leads to some celeb fans making the decision to adopt this lifestyle for themselves.

Here is a list of just a few celebrity vegetarians:

Pamela Anderson
Russell Brand
Ellen DeGeneres
Paul McCartney
Ozzy Osbourne
Natalie Portman
Alicia Silverstone


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Opposing Diets

As a vegetarian I do not have many relationships with others like myself.  All of my closest friends and family are omnivores, so meat is always present. 

In some cases I would imagine this could cause problems.  Living in a house full of hard-core meat-eaters when you can’t stand the thought of eating animals can be a major issue for some vegetarians.  Trying to sustain a vegetarian lifestyle when you can’t eat any of the groceries brought into the house is also a frustration.  Refusing to eat something that has come in contact with meat in any way, but someone else is cooking your meal …

Yes, there are many difficulties being the only vegetarian in a group.

My boyfriend is a dedicated meat-eater.  The guy eats meat every day and more than just once.  He loves his steaks and chicken wings and burgers; all things that I find absolutely repulsive.  In addition, he practically refuses to eat vegetables, which are what constitute about 90% of my diet.

So, how do on earth do we manage to make meals together??

We have managed to find a common ground – pizza!

Pizza is one of the greatest foods for people with opposing dietary preferences.  The base is the same, but you have total freedom with the toppings.  Plus, pizzas very easily divide into equal parts, so I can load up my side with peppers, tomatoes, olives and mushrooms, and my boyfriend can put as much pepperoni as he wants on his side.

Check out our work of art!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

More on Protein

Just in case you didn't feel satisfied by the information in my last post, I thought I would provide a more detailed account on vegetarian/vegan friendly protein sources.

The soybean is an important protein in any meat-free diet.  Soybeans contain all essential amino acids – there are 10 – and provide a respective amount of protein to the human body. 

Soybeans can be consumed in their original form, and actually make a great addition to your favourite trail-mix, but they can also be found in a wide variety of soy-based products.  Soy milk, tofu, veggie burgers and dogs are only a few of the products available to vegetarians and vegans.  The soybeans are miraculous in that the many different forms take on a variety of flavours guaranteed to satisfy a range of tastes. 

Aside from soybeans, vegetarian/vegan protein comes from sources such as:

Legumes: garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans

Grain: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, quinoa, rye, wild rice

Vegetables: artichokes, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, green peas, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, spinach, watercress, zucchini … to name a few

Fruit: apples, bananas, melons, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pineapple

Nuts and Seeds: almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts

And the list goes on.  So, as you can see, there are a wide range of proteins available to those who chose not to eat meat.  These options offer a variety of textures and tastes of which you’ll surely never be bored. 

Oh, and one last thing, to further support my previous claim that people tend to think we need more protein than is necessary, The Happy Cow says that “we need only 2.5 – 10% of our calories from protein, and ALL vegetables offer us more than that.”   

Thursday, 28 February 2013

“But where do you get your protein?”

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked this question ….  

Non-vegetarians have a tendency to think that if you don’t eat meat than you must not have any protein in your diet.  This is completely untrue as there are a number of non-meat, or plant based, proteins which provide the same nutritional value as meat. 

“Proteins are made up of amino acids, of which there are 20, and eight of these need to be supplied by diet” (Graimes, 2010).  A food that contains eight amino acids is called a ‘complete’ protein – it is a high quality protein.  For vegetarians the complete proteins are eggs, dairy products and soya beans.  Other sources of protein, such as nuts, legumes, pasta, potatoes and rice, do not contain all eight amino acids and are therefore considered ‘incomplete’ proteins.  A balanced combination of ‘incomplete’ proteins can have similar benefits as a ‘complete’ protein.      

I find non-vegetarians are overly concerned with the amount of protein in a diet and they have this unfounded idea that large quantities of protein are essential to good health.  However, in reality, most people consume more protein than they need. 

In her book on vegetarian diet and health, Nicola Graimes says that protein deficiency is basically unheard of and, in fact, “an excess of protein can be detrimental, rather than beneficial to health.”  Graimes explains that high-protein foods, which are a source of fat, often leach calcium from the body and thus increase the risk of bone disease such as osteoporosis. 

So, to sum things up on the protein issue, yes, there are alternatives to meat protein, and no, you do not NEED meat to survive.  

Source: Graimes, Nicola. 330 Vegetarian Recipes for Health. London: Hermes House, 2010. Print