Well, summer is here. Generous tasty months. So when else, if not now, when not only edible, but also tasty and healthy things are growing literally under our feet, should we talk about vegetarianism? Jesus Christ was far from the first preacher of vegetarianism, but perhaps the most authoritative. Speaking of the great sin of eating meat, fish, eggs, and other things, he “described” the results of this in the “Gospel of Peace”: “And your blood becomes thick and foul-smelling, your flesh becomes overgrown with fat, becomes watery and begins to rot and decompose. Your insides are filled with vile scum, streams of decomposition, and many worms find shelter here, and all the gifts of the Earthly Mother are taken from you: breath, blood, bones, flesh … life itself.
Humanity has turned to vegetarianism throughout its history. The high development of physical culture in Ancient Greece, the religious zeal for mortification in medieval Europe, and the current boom in healthy lifestyles in America have consistently elevated vegetarianism to the pedestal of a holy and righteous life.
And yet, vegetarianism has always been an outcast, and “empty” cereals, bread without butter and liquid stew – the lot of the poor. Today, the craze for vegetarianism (in the West) has provoked the appearance of regular vegetarian dishes not only in the most luxurious restaurants, but also on the menu of many airlines. At the same time, meat is generally considered bad form, and fatty dairy products are offered to be replaced not only with fat-free, but with soy. (These soy substitutes – super-low-calorie – are now obsessed with all of Europe, and you can buy them there in any supermarket.)
So the request to bring “something vegetarian” no longer surprises proud European waiters. On the contrary, it is a symbol of a modern, stylish and very wealthy life (not everyone can afford to be a vegetarian according to all the rules). Well, we in Russia still have to explain what it is, what they eat and what we, in kind, don’t have enough for meat?
So, vegetarian diets consist only of plant foods with the complete exclusion of animal protein. That is, no meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter and fatty sour cream. But sugar and flour – as much as you like (of course, within reasonable limits). Vegetables and fruits – more. Mushrooms have a place of honor on the table. Lactic acid products, liquid sour cream, cream, low-fat cottage cheese, yoghurts are a holiday for the body.
And yet we cannot live without fats, they are the main source of energy in the body. But fats are different. Saturated fatty acids, contained, for example, in butter, contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. Natural, unsaturated fats found in nuts, low-fat dairy products are not only beneficial for their beneficial effect on the heart, but are simply irreplaceable. So, we will fry and steam only on vegetable (ideally olive) oil, and replace sour cream in salads with kefir or yogurt.
And of course all kinds of cereals and cereals. The bulk of vital substances are in them. Open any cookbook and delve into the table of fat-protein-carbohydrate-vitamin content in the usual cereals. Many surprises await you. What do you think is the most valuable source of protein? Meat? Mushrooms? Didn’t guess. Peas.
By the way, it would be nice to cook vegetarian dishes without adding salt. The effect would be twofold.
So what are the benefits of this diet? Vegetable food is a complete source of vitamins C, P, mineral salts, phytoncides, organic acids, cell membranes, etc. In addition, the low content of sodium salts in plant foods, which prevent the rapid removal of fluid from the body, its “washing”, is useful for everyone and healthy, and especially for patients with hypertension, renal and chronic cardiovascular insufficiency, obesity, gout.
At the same time, a variety of plant foods provides the body with a significant amount of ascorbic acid, potassium salts and other minerals. Therefore, the use of vegetarianism provides a fairly rapid decrease in the level of end products of nitrogen metabolism in patients with renal insufficiency, a decrease in blood pressure, a pronounced diuretic effect, and a decrease in the level of harmful uric acid.
Even if you stick to vegetarianism for a short time, you can significantly cleanse the body, “unload” protein metabolism and exclude the intake of purines with food (substances that slow down the action of the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to chronic constipation and self-poisoning of the body), create a predominance of alkaline valences over acidic ( that is, to slow down the processes of oxidation in the body).
Even ballast, so to speak, empty substances in the composition of plants are useful and necessary for our body. Vegetables contain a large amount of fiber, which stimulates intestinal motility and its regular emptying. In addition, fiber, passing almost unchanged through the intestines, collects and absorbs all harmful decomposition products, all poisons contained in the original food and resulting in the process of digestion.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of being a vegetarian is the following. Plant foods, due to their significant volume, but low nutritional value, cause a false sense of satiety. All vegetarian diets eliminate the feeling of hunger much faster than they saturate the body. A person is constantly accompanied by lightness – a feeling of emptiness in the stomach during instant saturation. Needless to say, this state is better and more natural than other methods to help reduce body weight.
The body eliminates the need for energy costs for the processing of animal food (and they are very significant). Therefore, vegetarians feel constant cheerfulness, unusual performance. The Soviet writer Veresaev even devoted pages of his diary to this phenomenon. In the post-revolutionary years, his family was forced to go without meat rations for several months. Not very happy about this, the writer, however, objectively noted that his well-being and performance during this period had improved significantly.
However, one cannot remain silent about the fact that plant-based diets also have a number of disadvantages that are significant from the point of view of modern nutritional science. The main one is the difficulty of creating a balanced diet. First of all, this concerns the deficiency of essential amino acids, vitamin A, D, group B. So, refusing meat, and not diversifying the vegetarian diet, we deprive ourselves of many important substances that need to be compensated.
So it becomes simply mandatory to use natural dry red and white wines: they are very useful for digestion and are a source of many deficient microelements. But not in the quantities accepted by us: 100 grams per day is enough.
In addition, iron is poorly absorbed in vegetarians.
So, they need to consume soy in any form. True, its great diversity in us has not yet been observed. But soy formula for newborns and soy sauce can always be found.
Vegetarian diets can be safely attributed to fruit and vegetable fasting days. And the most radical form of vegetarianism is the raw food diet. The entire diet consists of raw vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, various fruits, berries. Proponents of the raw food diet note such positive aspects: the complete assimilation of vitamins and mineral salts, since with any most gentle technological processing, some of them are lost. Low content of sodium salts, ensuring active intestinal motility, good saturation with low energy value of food. High palatability of raw vegetables and fruits, active work of the chewing apparatus (which strengthens teeth), reduction of oxidation processes in the body. In addition, raw plant foods reduce putrefactive processes in the intestines (gas). This is the effect of a raw food diet in healthy people. And for patients, diets of raw vegetables and juices are prescribed for 2-3 days for gout, uric acid diathesis, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular and chronic renal failure, and chronic constipation. In acute colitis with diarrhea, apple diets are prescribed. Patients are given a kilogram and a half of peeled, raw, grated apples during the day. The pectins contained in apples help to stop diarrhea.
In general, apple fasting days are the most affordable and popular with us. The positive aspects of such events are countless. Apart from the benefits of a purely mechanical unloading and cleaning of the gastrointestinal tract, the apple itself is just a storehouse of useful properties. It cleanses blood vessels, absorbs cholesterol, prevents iron deficiency anemia, which is so common today, fights bleeding gums and cleans teeth.
True, only our local “natural” apples have such properties, Antonovka is the best. Imported ones that are sold all year round are deprived of many properties and, first of all, vitamins for the sake of long-term preservation and “presentation”.
By the way, since we are talking about imported curiosities, one cannot but mention the latest findings in the science of nutrition. The fact is that in our body there is a limited set of enzyme sets that correspond to the chemical structures of food. Each type of food has its own enzyme. This set was formed and laid down in the genes over many centuries and millennia on the basis of the food that is characteristic of the area. Therefore, in our body there is, for example, an enzyme for the assimilation of strawberries or sorrel, but, alas, not for the assimilation of bananas. What should the body do with such “unidentified food”. It’s good if the defense just works: throw everything away … That’s why digestive disorders are so common when traveling to distant countries or visiting exotic restaurants. So modern nutrition science comes to the conclusion that you need to eat foods that are characteristic of your climatic region. And they – local plant products of the middle zone – are extremely diverse and fully satisfy all the needs of the body. It is especially convenient to use their diversity in these summer months.
I must say that it would be wrong to join the ranks of vegetarians “suddenly”: from tomorrow or from Monday. It is necessary to change the habits of the body gradually. To begin with, give up all kinds of meat delicacies and sausages, leaving a small amount of natural boiled or stewed meat in the diet. Spend purely vegetarian days one or two per week. And when you feel that they do not bring you inconvenience and psychological discomfort, gradually reduce the “meat” days to nothing. And yet, if the meat invariably “pulls” (most likely not enough protein food), it is quite possible to afford the infrequent use of … marine varieties of fish.
And finally, I would like to say that it is not at all necessary to take one or another position regarding nutrition once and for all. Become a vegetarian for a while. For example, which is very convenient and not at all psychologically difficult – for the summer “country” season. Yes, and the raw food method is best to try it in these generous months.
Consultant Alexander BELYAEV, nutritionist