The one thing, OK one of the many things that has struck me in my nutrition course this semester is the lack of information that the Doctors really have when it comes to nutrition. All of my childrens lives I have been told that we can not be healthy and be a vegan or vegetarian. My now 10 year old has always been on the top of the growth chart since day 1. My daughter and youngest around 50 to 70%. They are fine and that is what I have always told the Doctors. They are healthy. I was extremely conscientious about what food I prepared for my children. i always have been. The thing that has really struck me in my nutrition class is how over and over again we have learned that you CAN be healthy on a vegetarian or vegan diet. The only way you would not be healthy would be is if you chose to eat the same thing over and over again (for example if you only ate soy (which I do not recommend by the way) That in the US we have access to so many foods that really we don't have to consciously think about food combining and being as careful as they say we need to be. If you eat a variety of foods including both legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts (and grains if you choose to eat them) you will be FINE. The amount of protein we consume in this country is way more than we actually need. We need around 35 grams per day for an adult female. The average citizen gets around 100 GRAMS. So nearly 3 times as much as we need. Did you know that we do not make lean muscle from extra protein? The nitrogen is excreted out in the urine and the extra is turned in fat. Also if you are a ovo lacto vegetarian really you have NOTHING to worry about. The egg is considered like a "perfect food" for protein and is what they measure how well other proteins digest against it. Vegans you also have nothing to worry about. The KEY is - no matter what style of diet you eat - vary the foods you eat. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables they are important. They are going to supply your body with an abundant supply of vitamins and minerals. Also the fiber is necessary and a key component of the diet, or should be. It helps to push things through your intestine, binds to excess cholesterol and performs so many health benefits. Fiber is very important for you and your health. It amazes me that people have a hard time fitting in their servings of fruits and vegetables. That is very important thing to do. Figure out how you can add them or sneak them into your meals if your kids do not like them. The one thing about the vegan diet, if you are not eating a lot of processed foods you will most likely need to supplement with some vitamin D. You will want to get the kind that is liquid. It is more absorbable by the body, or what I did is only supplement during fall and winter months when I was not outside as much.
Why do Doctors lead people into fear into thinking that being a vegetarian can not possibly meet all the nutritional demands? There are so many studies out there currently that show the opposite of this, and that you can be healthy on a vegetarian and vegan diet.
Know that you need to be able to trust your Doctor, but most have not had a lot of nutritional training and may misinform you when it comes to nutrition and dietary recommendations.
So here we are, a new year, and i do intend to start working vegetarian meals back into my families diet. It will be a switch but I am ready. I do not believe that a diet that is so meat heavy is really ultimately the most healthy long term.