Vegetarian and Vegan Links
- Visit Harvard Health Publications or Physcians Committee to learn more about becoming a vegetarian.
- Visit Kristina’s Kitchen to find recipes and information from a local resource.
- Visit The Vegetarian Resource Group to find vegetarian information and links.
Vegetarian and Vegan Information
A plant based diet has been shown to be healthy, kind to the environment and animal welfare. Hundreds of studies have shown that the vegetarian diet (no meat, fish or poultry) or the Mediterranean diet (rich in fruit, vegetables and nuts with small amounts of fish and meat) can help with weight control, prevent diabetes, lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease the risk for heart disease and cancer. Of course a diet of soda, pizza and candy may be devoid of animal products, but it is certainly not healthy. Carbohydrates are good but only the complex variety, found in vegetables. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup found in most processed foods dramatically increase blood glucose which increases insulin which in turn causes hunger and laying down of fat.
There are several types of vegetarianism: from not eating meat to not eating any animal products (i.e., a vegan diet which excludes milk, eggs and cheese). A vegan diet can be very healthy as long as it includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains to ensure adequate intake of protein, iron and zinc. It is also important to substitute saturated fats to those found in nuts, olive oil or canola oil. The essential vitamin B12 is only found in animal products so vegans should eat B12 fortified foods (certain soy products and breakfast cereals) or take a supplement. Eating plenty of broccoli, collards, kale and bok choy will ensure adequate intake of calcium. Also, consider taking vitamin D, not found in plants, if your exposure to the sun is limited (less than 30 minutes a day).