Today November 1 is World Vegan Day and we bring you this video from our nutritionists Balma Edo and Adriana Oroz in which they tell us the 4 myths about vegetarian and vegan nutrition that are most frequently found in consultation. And what are these myths?
MYTH 1: a vegetarian eats only fruits and vegetables
The most common myth that we come across, not in consultation but at street level, is to think that a vegetarian eats only and exclusively fruits and vegetables.
Those people who do not consume meat if they consume fish, or those who make a very low or occasional consumption of both meat and fish and shellfish are not considered vegetarians.
A person who does NOT consume meat (not even poultry), fish or shellfish , or those products that contain them are considered vegetarian . Based on this common premise, there are four large subgroups:
- Ovolactovegetarians : they consume dairy and eggs, as well as foods of plant origin.
- Ovo-vegetarians : they consume eggs in addition to products of plant origin.
- Lacto-vegetarians : they consume plant-based and dairy-based foods.
- Strict vegetarians : also called ” vegans “, they do not consume food of animal origin or honey. Their values also usually include not using any product of animal origin (clothing, shoes, nutritional supplements, cosmetics …).
MYTH 2: a vegetarian diet is insufficient in nutrients
Many people ask us if a vegetarian diet is balanced and may have nutritional deficiencies. . And this is very curious, because people wonder if a vegetarian diet is balanced, assuming that it is omnivorous.
According to the ADA (Association American Dietetic) the vegetarian diets properly planned are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases and are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, as well as for athletes.
To determine if a diet is balanced and healthy, it must be assessed as a whole. If plant-based foods rich in trans fats or saturated fats and sugars are consumed freely (cookies, pastries, preparations of meat substitutes rich in fats, sugary breakfast cereals, honey, sugar), no matter how vegetarian the food is, IT WOULD NOT BE HEALTHY. Or if the person does not stop to think about how to substitute proteins of animal origin for proteins of vegetable origin, it would not be a BALANCED diet either . But this same situation occurs with any other type of diet.
MYTH 3: a vegetarian diet is not compatible with professional exercise
Being a vegetarian is not at odds with being an athlete or exercising, you simply have to plan your diet, in the same way as an omnivorous athlete would. When we talk about looking for sports performance and adaptation of diet to sports practice, what is important is to get to cover well the expenses derived from physical activity … We would return to the same thing, if it is well planned and prescribed by a dietician …. Why no?
MYTH 4: with a vegetarian diet we do not provide enough protein.
Many people think that plant-based foods do not provide us with good quality protein or of the same quality as animal-based foods. But good quality PROTEIN can be found in plant-based foods. We are going to explain what the expression “good quality protein” means:
- It means that they have all the essential amino acids in their composition, that is, they contain all the amino acids that the body is not capable of synthesizing on its own and must be obtained from the diet. Amino acids are the “pieces” that make up proteins, there is a long list of them and each protein is made up of a few.
- There are plant-based foods that have a complete protein profile, such as soybeans, chickpeas, some types of white and black beans, pistachios, quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, amaranth . Although the portions that we must contribute of each of them are different.
- It is true that in the case of lentils, they present an incomplete protein profile because they lack an essential amino acid, methionine and cereals such as rice lack lysine, so it is recommended to combine them, to achieve a complete protein .
- It is not necessary to combine them in the same meal but throughout the day, that is, we can eat lentils and have rice for dinner.
- You can also make other combinations that ensure that complete protein intake with protein foods of plant origin. For example; Legumes + Cereals * (Lentils with rice, breakfast cereals with soy drink, Bread with tofu). Nuts * + Legumes (Chickpeas and pine nuts, Tofu burger and almond flour) or Nuts + Cereals * (oatmeal cookies with nuts, dried fruit bread …)
Not only a vegetarian diet is healthy …
… But it has a very significant environmental impact. We can find plant foods very close to us (savings in transport and storage), the energy and water cost to produce a kilo of legumes is much lower (between 8 and 40 times, according to the study) than the production of a kilo of meat and the waste generated is also much lower.
If you are not ready to be a vegetarian, yes you can take a step and reduce the consumption of meat and fish and focus your diet on fruits, vegetables and legumes. If you are planning to make a change in your diet, directed towards a vegetarian diet, we encourage you to let yourself be advised by a vegetarian dietitian-nutritionist so that she can guide you well and give you the appropriate resources and information.