Many do without meat because, apart from their love for animals, they consider this diet to be healthier. But is that the case? We asked experts.
Those who do not eat meat live healthier. Or?
Not eating meat does not mean eating healthily in general. Because if you often eat foods rich in fat and sugar, you will be undersupplied with vital substances in the long run.
Doesn’t the body need animal protein?
Animal protein is easier for us to utilize because it is very similar to the body’s own. However, our protein requirements can also be met with plant-based foods such as legumes, soy, cereals, nuts, seeds, and potatoes. Incidentally, the body absorbs vegetable protein best when you combine protein products from different sources (e.g. potatoes and soy) when cooking.
All vegetarians are iron deficient. Is that correct?
Not if vegetarians eat consciously. The body can absorb animal iron better, but there is also iron in green vegetables, lettuce, and cereals. However, it is important that plant-based iron is eaten together with vitamin C, such as that found in fruit or vegetables – this means that it is better absorbed. However, vegetarians do not have to worry about a lack of other vital substances such as B vitamins, omega fatty acids, iodine, and calcium if they always pay attention to a balanced diet. B vitamins are found in grains, nuts, and bananas. Iodine is found in iodized salt and algae. Vegetable oils and nuts contain omega fatty acids and soy products, and legumes and cabbage provide plenty of calcium.
Are there situations where vegetarians need to be careful?
In the case of mental and physical stress, the organism needs more vital substances such as B vitamins and vitamin C than usual. For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding vegetarians should pay particular attention to the supply of iron, B vitamin folic acid, and iodine. By the way: According to studies, children of vegetarians are less likely to have allergies.
Is it good for children and young people to eat vegetarian food?
Children under the age of three should not be on a vegetarian diet. A lack of iron in particular can lead to developmental disorders of the nervous system. Older children and adolescents are not harmed by a vegetarian diet as long as they get enough protein, iron, and iodine.