Do you love your veggies? Do you think killing animals for
consumption violates an ethic standard?
Eating vegetarian is a decision that is made by many teenagers.
They make this for a variety of reasons, including food likes and dislikes,
animal rights, religious or cultural beliefs, and family history or tradition.
There are several things to keep in mind when considering
vegetarianism. The six varieties of vegetarianism include:
• Semi - vegetarians do not eat red animal flesh, but choose to eat
chicken and fish.
• Ovo - lacto vegetarians eat no meat, but do consume eggs and milk.
Most vegetarians are ovo-lacto, and it is considered the healthiest of the
• Lacto - vegetarians eat no meat and no eggs, but do consume milk products.
• Ovo - vegetarians eat no meat or milk products, but they do consume
• Vegans do not eat meat, eggs, milk or milk products.
• Semi - vegetarians eat a vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat animal
Vegetarianism can be nutritionally challenging because not
eating meat reduces many of the nutrients that growing teens need to maintain
a healthy body.
When making the transition to vegetarianism, there are some
• Protein - Meat provides most of the protein in a typical diet. Protein
is not stored in the body, so it must be eaten regularly to maintain muscle.
Vegetarians need to get protein from alternate sources such as tofu, nuts,
beans, lentils, and various soy products.
• Iron - Girls especially need to worry about getting enough iron. Iron
forms red blood cells and a deficiency can cause fatigue and lack of energy.
Iron sources include dried beans, iron-fortified cereals, spinach and prunes.
These foods should be eaten with items high in vitamin C to aid absorption.
• Calcium - Calcium is necessary for building strong bones. Most vegetarians
get their calcium from milk, but vegans can get their calcium from dark leafy
greens, broccoli, tofu, fortified soy milk, and beans. To absorb this calcium,
vegetarians should get Vitamin D as well, which is mostly available through
exposure to sunlight.
• Vitamin B12 - Vegetarians can usually get B12 from eggs and milk,
but multivitamins are also an option, as well as fortified cereals.
When a teenage vegetarian eats a balanced diet that includes
all needed nutrients, there are health benefits. According to the American
Dietetic Association, "Vegetarian diets offer a number of advantages,
including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein and
higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, boron, foliate, antioxidants
such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and phytochemicals".
In short, vegetarianism is a healthy and useful option
teenagers can make, but they need to remember to plan their meals to include
all the essential nutrients.