Balance is Key in a Good Vegetarian Diet

Balance is Key in a Good Vegetarian DietThe American Dietetic Association took a position in 2009 that "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases".

It said: "Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and for athletes."

Our Health Promotion Board states that "a well-balanced and healthy vegetarian diet" is associated with a lower Body Mass Index, lower blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk of death from heart disease.

One of the oldest persons in Singapore was Ms Teresa Hsu, a lifelong vegetarian, who died last year at the age of 113.

Singapore's record holder in a marathon, Mr M Rameshon, is a vegetarian.

Another Singapore vegetarian, Mr Ang Hwee, has won medals in weight-lifting competitions overseas. One of our top blood donors, Mr Goh Joo Heng, who has donated whole blood or platelets more than 100 times, is a vegetarian.

Protein is probably people's biggest concern when they begin to substitute animal food for plant food. However, many plant foods, including beans, other legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, contain large quantities of protein.

Among plant foods with iron are green leafy vegetables, lentils, legumes and dried fruit.

There is calcium in soy products (including tempeh, tofu and soy milk), foods fortified with calcium, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, sesame seeds and almonds.

Vegetarians obtain Omega 3 from flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Millions of people in India have been vegetarians for generations. How can that be if we need to eat fish?

Vegetarians can take vegetarian B12 supplements, which are available at reasonable cost, and some foods are fortified with B12.

Health is complicated. Each person is different, and the same person differs at different times in their life. Consultation with a health professional is essential.

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