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Vegetarian Diets

The strict vegetarian or ‘vegan’ believes that no animal produce should be in-cluded in the diet and he therefore adheres to a regime of vegetables, fruit, nuts and grains. Vegetarians who allow themselves to eat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, butter and eggs in addition to the foods mentioned above are called lacto-vegetarians.

People choose to become vegetarian for many reasons – religious, nutritional, physiological, aesthetic and economic.

However to become a vegetarian, a thorough knowledge of the nutritional values of foods and how to cook them without destroying these values is essen-tial. If in doubt, one should always consult a doctor before going on a vegetarian (or any other) diet. Vegans, in particular, because of their dependence on cereal grains or starchy root crops, are liable to become deficient in vitamin BJ2, riboflavin, calcium and iron. A course of vitamins, in the form of pills, can help overcome this danger.

Proteins derived from plant sources usually contain only some of the eight essential amino acids, and it is important that vegetarian diets should be as varied as possible to prevent an imbalance. Wholefoods, i.e. unprocessed foodstuffs and foods which are grown by the ‘organic’ method, are especially favoured by vegetarians since they are not deprived of basic vitamins and minerals by refining, preserving or chemical processes.

Yeast extracts can introduce a savoury ‘meaty’ flavour to stocks, soups and savoury dishes and the recently introduc-ed protein derived from soya-bean extracts may be used to great advantage as a substitute for meat in many dishes. Nuts are also a good source of protein for vegetarians and they may be made into roasts, rissoles and cutlets.

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