Vegetarianism has become an extremely popular diet choice over the last few decades. In light of this, a consumer survey done in 2004 estimated that one in ten Canadian households contains at least one person following a vegetarian diet (Gwendolyn, W., et al, 2012). In respects to this, the rise of meat-less alternatives is growing within supermarkets, fast food chains, and restaurants. Hence, the rise of such alternatives is a direct result of rising numbers of people who choose a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet consists of eating plant-based foods and refraining from eating animal product or by-product. However, there are several varieties of vegetarian’s diets, which may limit the consumption of eggs and dairy products. A lacto vegetarian consumes dairy but refrains from eggs whereas a lacto-ova vegetarian consumes dairy and eggs. Additionally, a vegetarian diet may be a personal choice, health choice or a religious belief. Despite the controversy that suggests a vegetarian diet does not provide adequate nutrients to sustain a healthy lifestyle, is in fact inaccurate as a vegetarian diet is among the healthier diets known worldwide. Thus, vegetarians consume adequate nutrients, lower their risk for disease and ingest healthier food compared to their meat-eating counterpart.
Most of the nutrients and are found in meat can be found in another non-meat source. For a person contemplating a vegetarian diet it must be considered that they will need to attain essential nutrients from another source. Additionally, a well-balanced vegetarian diet can provide a healthy lifestyle during all stages of life.
Protein, which is found in animals, can also found in foods such as tofu, soy, beans, lentils, most nuts and seeds. Protein is essential for building new cells, maintaining body tissues, and constructing new protein to aid in bodily functions (Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2013). Protein is also needed in the body to synthesis amino acids, the body can build most of these however 8 amino acids must come from food. Meat and animal protein is an excellent source to attain these amino acids. Thus, plant based foods lacks amino acid and must be combined with other plant-based foods to receive the full benefits of amino acids. If combinations of plant-based food are made, meat is not essential in diet for protein (Williams, 1975).
Likewise, iron is an essential nutrient for transporting oxygen, maintaining immune function and delivery energy to our bodies. However, vegetarians often have similar or higher total iron intakes than non-vegetarians (Gwendolyn, W., et al, 2012). There are two types of dietary iron that are ingested and absorbed into the body: heme and nonheme iron. Compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians lack the consumption of heme iron, which is strictly found in animal product while; nonheme iron is found in plant-based foods. Nonheme iron has a lower absorption rate compared to heme iron, which can result in iron deficiency...