Vegetarian or What?

 

In a Nutshell: (well, at least my attempt to make this nutshell size )

I tell everyone that I’m a vegetarian, because I get ridiculously excited about fresh, organic vegetables.  This may stem from my having lived on a boat in the Islands for 11 years, where so many of my favorite vegetables and fruits have been unavailable or limited, so I go a little crazy when I find a colorful, well stocked farmers market.  Local farmers markets are just about my favorite hang out.  You can keep your dress, shoe shops and Jewelry stores, just give me a Farmers market and I’m in Heaven.

I also love to grow my own When I have a garden! I also love to grow my own When I have a garden or pots!

The bulk of my diet is vegetarian, although I still eat meat and fish, but only occasionally, and only from humanly reared animals.  Animals that have been allowed to roam freely in fields untreated with pesticides and chemicals,  living in a natural environment, rather than mass produced livestock raised in cramped inhumane cages.  On balance, a stressed, improperly reared animal is not likely to be good for us, or taste good.  The type of feed, use of medications and the space an animal has been allowed to roam on all have an impact on their health and must surely negatively impact ours.  Convincing evidence from years and years of research prove that you can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.

A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :) A rare find, Organic Vanilla, I bought a bunch of it :)

While anecdotal evidence is easy to find, the argument for less meat is now heavily backed up by medical research.  Everybody generally knows that vegetables, especially greens, which are abundant in vitamins and minerals, are good for us, but the story goes a lot deeper.

Phytochemical’s found in plants, are another explanation for the incredible health benefits of fruits and vegetables.  These chemical’s are what give plants their pigment, smell and more importantly flavor.

Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers Home grown, Organic, Heirloom tomatoes & peppers

A number of research papers look at the effects of Phytochemical’s on bone health, inflammation and even cancer.  We’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to investigating just how influential these thousands of bioactive compounds are to human health.  Looking at the associations between food and disease, the positive impact of diets largely based on plants and whole foods is indisputable.  This is why they make up the bulk of my diet, and why they should feature heavily on yours, too.  A Simple carrot or apple is  brimming with phytochemical’s such as quercetin and carotene.  These simple, affordable and accessible foods are key to good health.  Eating a plate of colorful plants is the easiest way to guarantee a complete range of essential phytochemical’s.

Animal products are an easy and delicious source of complete protein, key micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin B12 are nutritional qualities that are very hard to obtain in a purely plant-based diet.    You don’t have to give up meat to adopt a healthier lifestyle, simply eat it less, be choosey with what you buy, and you will probably appreciate it more.  I treat meat and animal products as a luxury item, and enjoy them much more as an occassional treat rather than something eaten on a daily basis.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and read the ingredients label. My son’s girlfriend Paige, takes ages to shop as she reads the label on everything.  You want to look for more protein (10g or more per serving) and fibre, less sugar and calories. The ingredients list usually lists in order of highest amounts first.  If a food lists sugar or glucose as the first ingredient, it’s best avoided. Paige say’s if she doesn’t recognize the ingredient or can’t pronounce it, the product goes back on the shelf,  not a bad rule to live by.

Additives to avoid:

Epidemiological studies have found that higher intakes of nitrates – which are converted to nitrosamines in the body will increase your risk of cancer.  Think ham, salami, bacon, mince and sausages, where the numbers of the nitrate group  249-252 are used as a preservative to improve shelf life and enhance color.

MSG (no surprise’s here) this switches off the brain’s ability to say “I’m full” causing you to eat more than you need.  It’s associated health concerns are obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are always best avoided, diet drinks and foods are full of them.

Food Coloring

Those to avoid include blue (E133)  red (E124)  yellow (E110) and yellow tartrazine (E102)

Tip’s: 

Always try to buy organic, it’s a little more expensive but the price’s are lowering as their popularity grows.

Phytonutrients are most concentrated in the skins of vegetables, so leave the skins on wherever possible.

Most of our salt consumption comes not from added salt at the dinner table, but from hidden salt within products we buy.  So check the sodium levels, no more than 2.5g of salt or 1000mg of sodium per day.

High fibre foods make you feel full for longer, so for snacks aim for 3g or more per serving, and for main meals 6g or more.

 

 

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