Fact: a diet rich in plants has been known to lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, hypertension and obesity. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. During the month of October, numerous areas of a vegetarian diet will be highlighted for its benefits to health and to living a longer life.
A vegetarian diet mostly consists of fruits, vegetables, dried beans, seeds, nuts and grains all of which are loaded with healthy ingredients such as fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Plants are cholesterol-free and are low in saturated fats.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups: The vegan diet, which excludes all meat and animal products, the lacto-vegetarian diet, which includes plant foods plus dairy products and the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes both dairy products and eggs.”
There also is a diet called semi-vegetarian, which is for people that limit meat intake to fish and chicken and some who cut down to very minimal red meat-intake in their weekly diets.
While all vegetarians can get enough nutrition, it is extremely important to eat a large variety of foods. The Department of Agriculture also recommends that vegetarians may need to focus on including protein, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12. Supplements are available at numerous stores to offer the body these essential nutrients that may not be included in a normal daily intake of food.
Worried about not getting enough calcium and do not want to take a supplement? Leafy greens and nuts are high in calcium. According to the National Osteoporosis Society, exercise and limiting alcohol intake can also help prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin, which is a prevalent issue in women all over.
In Pennsylvania, there are several of restaurants that offer vegetarian choices on their menus. Senora’s, located at 505 E Gay St., offers a wide listing on vegetarian dishes. The Hunan Chinese restaurant at 1103 West Chester Pike in the Town and Country Shopping Center offers a substantial vegetarian menu as well. Many restaurants also offer vegetarian dishes but do not have it on their menu, so inquire with the server for accommodations.
There are also several of places in the area where a great vegetarian food selection is available. The Great Pumpkin in the Market Street Plaza offers health foods and no dairy products. Trader Joe’s, another health food store, is located in numerous chains over the area.
Vegetarian and health foods can also be ordered over the internet as well. Some sites offer numerous recipes for vegetarian and vegan foods. One site that is recommended is VegWeb.com. They offer memberships, have tons of options and also comment on recipes available on the website.
Not ready to give in on eating meat products? Vegetarians have plenty of options. One Web site, VegetarianStore.com, offers a large portion of assorted vegetarian alternatives for the all-time favorite meats. They have everything from vegetarian steak to vegetarian sausage links.
Like dairy products but are sick of the new health concerns that popup daily in the news? There is Soya milk, that has calcium added, as well as many other choices available at the local grocery stores.
Hopefully this information will open a new perspective in the awareness of vegetarianism. There are many different choices in the world other than meat and dairy. Vegetarian Awareness Month is a dedication to healthy living and a healthy life.
Leanne Sturt is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at LS637862@wcupa.edu.