The basic components of a vegetarian diet
For a balanced diet, you should be very careful about the foods you eat every day. Both meat eaters and vegetarians need an adequate supply of nutrients and vital substances.
Meat is regarded as an important source of protein, which is missing in a vegetarian diet. But this does not have to be a disadvantage for vegetarians: Because you can also cover your daily protein requirements (50 to 60 g) with vegetable protein suppliers such as nuts, pulses, cereals and soy products as well as eggs,cheese
and other dairy products.
Iodine is an important component of the thyroid hormones and essential for the metabolism. You can cover your needs with dairy products, seaweed and iodized salt.
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are considered "good fats". They cannot be produced by the human body itself - so you have to take them in with your food. Many fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarians get their essential fatty acids from vegetable oils such as linseed oil, rapeseed oil and walnut oil.
Our body needs iron in particular for oxygen transport in the blood. For a sufficient iron intake (10 to 15 mg a day) it is recommended to eat many nuts, pulses and cereal products. A combination of wholemeal products or pulses with fruit and vegetables is good.
As a trace element, zinc contributes to the activation of enzymes and hormones and is important for wound healing and growth. Zinc is absorbed by eating whole grain cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds (e.g. sesame, pumpkin and cashew nuts).
Vitamin B12 supports blood formation and metabolism. It is only found in some animal and fortified foods. Those who regularly consume eggs and dairy products usually consume sufficient vitamin B12. The recommended daily amount is 3 micrograms. Vitamin B12-enriched dietary supplements offer another way of meeting the demand.
Pros and cons of vegetarianism
All forms of nutrition - including vegetarianism - have their advantages and disadvantages.
Vegetarian benefits Diseases of civilization resulting from an unhealthy diet are less common in vegetarians (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, gout). The body absorbs less saturated fat and cholesterol. Constipation and intestinal diseases are rarer. A vegetarian diet protects the environment and resources. Many vegetarians feel better, fitter and healthier.
Disadvantages for vegetarians A wrong composition of the food can cause deficiency symptoms. In order to prevent nutrient deficiencies, vegetarians have to make greater efforts to feed themselves and acquire a great deal of knowledge about food. The sufficient supply of iron, zinc, protein, iodine and vitamin B12 should be checked regularly. A varied vegetarian diet is often associated with additional costs. Vegetarians often have a harder time than meat eaters (e.g. not so much choice in restaurants or canteens).