Tips and care for those who want to stop eating meat | nutrition

In Brazil and around the world, a growing trend towards lean eating can be seen. According to a survey conducted by the consulting company Inteligência em Pesquisa e Consultoria (Ipec) commissioned by the Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), 46% of Brazilians do not eat at least once a week on their own. According to clinical and sports nutritionist Jessica Giannini, studies show that switching to a vegetarian lifestyle is interesting for patients with chronic diseases such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and obesity. On the other hand, the specialist points out that lifestyle can also be harmful, especially with regard to protein deficiency, if the diet is not thought out and varied.

Legumes like beans and oilseeds like walnuts and chestnuts are rich in plant proteins — Photo: Istock Getty Images

– The most common harm of giving up meat (fish, chicken and red meat in general) is protein deficiency. An essential macronutrient for maintaining muscle mass, hormone and enzyme production, healthy skin, nails, hair, cell formation and more, says Giannini. – When you stop eating meat, you may also become deficient in certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and iron. But with a balanced diet, it is possible to switch to a healthy vegetarian diet by making the right food choices and adapting nutrients and, if necessary, possible supplements.

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Before making the decision to change your lifestyle, it is important to note that simply stopping animal products does not necessarily make a person healthy. For example, the consumption of industrial products is not indicated, even if they are vegan.

– Especially if the diet is not based on “real food” (rice, beans, roots, vegetables, herbs, nuts and olive oil). There are a number of vegan products in the food industry that are high in fat and chemical additives, so ideally the diet should not be based on industrial products, warns Jessica. – There are vegetarians whose diet is based on fried foods such as french fries, packaged snacks, soft drinks and sweets. But there are healthy vegetarians whose main diet is foods with nutritional properties.

Vitamin B12 and iron supplements

Nutritionist Jessica Giannini says that when vitamin B12 levels are low, a person usually feels lethargic and irritable. For vegans, adjusted supplements are often needed, as B12-rich foods are usually animal-based.

– Vitamin B12 is an extremely important microelement in our body, it acts directly on the nervous system, during the formation of neurons, blood cells. With a low level of B12, a person feels lethargic, lack of energy, poor memory, irritability. And B12 is found mostly in red meat. Vegans, since they don’t consume any animal products, should be on the lookout for supplements. Capsules, injections, or daily fortified foods, she muses.

To avoid iron deficiency, vegetarians and vegans still need to bet on plant-based foods that are sources of the mineral, such as:

  • Bean
  • Military
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • chickpeas
  • whole grains
  • Beet
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Enriched Vegetarian Products

– In order to be able to meet the needs of the metabolism, it is necessary that the diet be varied. Keeping in mind that women naturally need a higher dose of iron, as they lose more during their menstrual period due to bleeding, says Jessica.

The perfect vegetarian dish

According to the expert, it is very important that the vegetarian dish is balanced and contains all the necessary nutrients. The division can be done like this:

  • 50% of the plate is filled with vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, arugula, watercress, chicory, spinach, eggplant, chayote, zucchini, beets, broccoli, radishes and carrots);
  • 25% carbohydrates and cereals (rice, corn, sweet potato, cassava, potatoes and cassava);
  • 25% of a plate with more protein foods such as legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soy).

“Another tip is to season the salad with a little olive oil to also contribute healthy fats, or even put pieces of almonds, chestnuts or other oilseeds on the plate,” recommends Giannini.

The perfect combination of rice and beans

The nutritionist still emphasizes the perfect combination of rice and beans. That’s because this duo contains complete proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals, iron, potassium, and zinc, as well as bioactive compounds.

– Eating rice and beans is a great Brazilian habit. Rice is also a source of carbohydrates and proteins. Rice protein contains two important amino acids called methionine and cystine, but it is low in lysine. Beans are rich in fiber, and their protein is high in the amino acid lysine and low in the amino acids methionine and cystine, notes Jessica.

calcium for vegetarians

In the plant kingdom, you can find foods that are sources of calcium, such as chia seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, white beans, green beans, and turnips. In addition, many herbal drinks and other products on the market are fortified with this mineral.

Jessica Giannini shows that calcium is important for healthy bones, teeth, muscle contraction and blood clotting. However, supplements are not the rule for all vegetarians and vegans.

– Calcium supplementation is not the rule for all vegetarians or vegans, a professional dietitian assesses the need for supplements individually.

Vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D is often found in animal products, but most people can get enough of this nutrient with 20 minutes of sun exposure a day.

The sun is our biggest source of vitamin D — Photo: Getty Images

“Most people just by exposing themselves to the sun can already guarantee a good supply of vitamin D. But you have to make it a habit. To find out if supplements are needed, a blood dosage of vitamin D is recommended, based on which a nutritionist or doctor determines the need and dosage of supplements, says Giannini.

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Strategies for Vegetarians and Vegans

With the guidance of nutritionist Jessica Giannini, I am a sportsman listed strategies to prevent possible nutritional deficiencies in vegetarians and vegans. Check it out below:

  1. After eating iron-rich foods, include a source of vitamin C, as vitamin C improves iron absorption;
  2. Do not drink black coffee after dinner, as caffeine reduces the bioavailability of iron and calcium;
  3. Avoid combining foods with iron and lots of calcium in the same meal. This is due to the fact that calcium also “competes” with iron for absorption;
  4. Maintain good gut health by eating enough fruits, vegetables, vegetables, exercising, and creating a toilet habit. The intestines are responsible for the absorption of most nutrients, so it’s important to keep it up to date.

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