New To Being A Rabbit

  • OptimusMatt

    Posts: 1124

    Sep 22, 2007 11:24 PM GMT
    Ok, so I've been giving this a fair amount of thought, and the idea of eating meat is kind of starting to...disgust me. I mean, I'm not going all eco-freak hippy, I just...am kind of disgusted by it, lol.

    Anyways, I've decided to give vegetarianism a try, because I doubt I'll be able to give up cheese. My question is for the vegetarians on the site - what should I be paying attention to?

    I take a multi-vitamin and cod liver oil daily. I know that I've got to make sure I'm getting enough iron and protein in my diet, but...should I be on the lookout for more?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 23, 2007 2:37 AM GMT
    Make sure you get a balance or fruit vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts, and really that should cover pretty much everything. Green leafy vegetables are rich in iron, and plenty of other things as well. There really isn't anything you can't get on a vegetable based diet that you can from a meat one -- especially if you include some dairy/eggs. Also get some good cook books or recipes, and be creative so you don't burn out or get in a rut.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 23, 2007 4:08 AM GMT
    Not a vegetarian myself, but general all purpose advice when dealing with a life without meat:

    Dark colors in vegetables are good. Dark green, dark orange, dark brown, etc. With a few exceptions, lighter colored vegetables tend to be much less nutrient dense. This is true both between vegetables (spinach versus ice berg lettuce), and within a vegetable (brown rice versus white rice).

    In general, leave the skin on. This is especially important for potatoes, where the inside is pretty much pure starch and every vitamin and mineral you can find in there is in the skin.

    Consider getting a cholesterol screen before deciding how much you might want to deal with eggs (note for the animal friendly, the vast majority of chicken eggs in the grocery store are unfertilized. You are not eating embryonic chickens). If you've got healthy cholesterol levels, a diet with a substantial amount of egg in it probably won't be a problem. If you're concerned, try egg substitutes, or separate out the white from the yolk.

    Try not to rely too much on a single vegetable. Virtually no vegetable is a complete food--your body will require amino acids in particular which aren't found at high enough traces in that plant. (Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. there are ten that the human body is unable to synthesize, and therefore needs to find in food). this is why many traditional agricultural diets have worked with a group of plants--the native American trio of corn, beans, and squash, for example. Soy is the major exception to this rule (though some dispute its protein completeness), but an overabundance of soy in the diet isn't always a great thing, as the estrogen derivatives in it may have some long term health effects, particularly in males. If you're consuming milk and eggs, you'll have much less need of soy than vegans, particularly if you use something like a whey protein powder.

    Probably most importantly: make sure to wash your vegetables extensively if you aren't going to cook them. The E. coli outbreaks in spinach from a year or so back would probably not have happened if people had cooked their spinach. They would have been less likely with thorough washing. While most E. coli is harmless, this was one of the pathogenic strains (same basic strain group as from the Jack in the Box outbreak in the early 90s). Beyond bacteria, you've also got potential pesticide issues, most of which wash off more easily than the bacteria do anyway.

    Finally, you may want to ease into this diet. Too much fruit gives most people diarrhea, and the same can happen with vegetables if you're not used to getting most of your food that way. Since it's that meat's disgusting you, you might try very temporarily increasing your complex carbohydrates (lots of whole grains), and steadily reducing the bread/pasta/rice/etc as you increase your intake of non-grains, to give your digestive system time to adjust.
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    Sep 23, 2007 4:09 AM GMT
    I'm reading up on becoming vegetarian myself, so I thought I'd go ahead and sign up to answer some of your questions. :)

    Let me debunk some myths straight away.. vegans/vegetarians have NO problem getting enough iron or protein. (I'll try and elaborate a bit later)

    And also, I agree with you about not being able to give up cheese, but after much research, I'd have to say that consuming dairy is just as "inhumane" (if not more) as consuming meats. Did you know that cheese is a by-product of the veal industry? The coagulant used to curdle milk into cheese is extracted from the fourth stomach of (dead) baby calves. Does cheese sound so appetizing now? :)

    Try some cheese alternatives!

    Another thing about dairy you should probably know, is that the high levels of something called "casein" in milk, and especially in cheese, have been linked to cancer rates. There is approx. 10x more casein in cheese than in milk, FYI. Anyway, there's not much "proof" but cancer rates in non-dairy cultures ARE lower.

    This is a good time to bring up the effects calcium has on iron absorption. Calcium, along with several other things (teas, caffeine), inhibits the absorption of iron into your system when taken at the same time. So even with all those meaty, cheesy meals, you may be getting even less iron than if you were to lead a **wholesome** vegan lifestyle.

    It's basically a huge myth that vegetarianism leads to iron or protein deficiencies (protein deficiencies simply don't exist in the USA, no matter what diet you follow). If you take a step back and examine what livestock and poultry eat, you'll notice they are vegan.. so the iron and protein we obtain from livestock just doesn't come out of nowhere does it? :)

    To subtract further from the "iron myth" I'd also like to point out that vegans benefit from a huge amount of Vitamin C in their diet, which aids in iron absorption.

    There is one problem for vegans though, and that is that the veggies that are highest in iron (spinach, etc) are also very high in "oxalates" which prevent iron absorption. Of course, spinach is still great for all the other nutrients, so there's no point in NOT eating it. :)

    So anyway, to sum up Iron, if you're eating wholesome vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and green beans, or even soy/tofu, you'll be absorbing PLENTY, if not more iron than you were on a non-vegan diet.

    OK, so... protein. I have 3 words: SOY SOY SOY. I saw your remarks about soy in another topic, so I'll just hope you were joking. (and by the way, it isn't real estrogen) :) If you truly want to be a vegetarian, tofu is going to be your friend. When processed into "faux meat" it's VERY convincing as a meat replacement. I just had a Boca burger today, actually, and I thought it was great.. and only 3g of fat! Aside from tofu, there is also tempeh which is still soy-based, but a very different animal. No pun intended. =p If you want to trick your body into thinking nothing has really changed, you just need to learn how to prepare tofu and tempeh in the right ways. Extra firm tofu acts very much like a meat.. you can grill it, marinate it, stick it in a stir-fry with veggies and rice, whatever.

    As for further advice, I haven't been practicing veganism for very long, and I'm honestly still transitioning out of meat eating.. so I'm really not much help.

    Omega-3 fatty acids: (since you shouldn't be taking fish oils if you're vegetarian) take grape seed extract.. or buy flax seeds and grind them with a coffee grinder, and then put them into yogurts (if you don't give up dairy) or into pasta sauces.. anything where you won't really notice the change in consistency.

    Vitamin B12: This is the only other "meat exclusive" nutrient I can think of, and it's really not that "exclusive". :) If you're still taking a multivitamin or eating cereal for breakfast, you should be getting enough B12. If you do start eating tofu and tempeh, they most likely also have a decent amount of B12.

    Well, if you need any more "horror stories" from the dairy or egg industries to make you want to go full-blown vegetarian, let us know. :)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 23, 2007 4:38 AM GMT
    @MSUBioNerd

    I'd like to add/ammend something you said.. :)

    You said that he should "temporarily" increase his whole grain consumption, but shouldn't most everybody be eating more whole grains than not, 100% of the time? :)

    If you're going to eat *any* grains they should normally be whole grains, as their lower Glycemic Index is best for preventing weight gain, diabetes, blah blah and so forth. On that note, your advice on potatoes should have just been to avoid them altogether. =p

    @ the OP,

    Actually, I'd say if you were already eating a good amount of whole grains, that if you were to suddenly switch to vegetarian that the increased fiber would throw your digestive system off anyway. Instead of increasing whole grain consumption while you "make the transition" I'd say you should probably decrease whole grains while you increase vegetables, that way your fiber intake stays about the same. You don't want your digestive system to work TOO well. :)
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 23, 2007 4:54 AM GMT
    Actually, the mere fact that livestock are eating vegetables doesn't in any way argue that we could just eat vegetables and be fine with our protein. Different species have different metabolic requirements. Most herbivores are better at synthesizing amino acids than are carnivores and omnivores. Sometimes it's because they directly have the ability to synthesize the amino acid from basic carbon and nitrogen in their diet, and sometimes it's because they have a symbiotic relationship with a microorganism that does it for them. Cows can live on grass. Lions can live on cows. Lions cannot, however, live directly on grass. While we can get all our amino acids from a well chosen vegetarian diet, it certainly is possible to end up deficient in one or more of them if you don't know what you're doing.

    I'm also not really joking about the soy issue. While soy isoflavones are significantly less active than estradiol (the main human estrogen), they do stimulate estrogen receptors to some extent, and the current long-term studies about health risks from increased isoflavone levels have had mixed results. More studies are in the work, focusing primarily on the breast cancer angle, and a few are looking at neurological effects, but it's worth noting as a possible issue. In any event, over reliance on a single food source is in general a bad idea for an omnivore like us. Even if you want to restrict yourself solely to vegetables, it's frequently healthier to get a larger mix of them than focusing primarily on one.
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    Sep 23, 2007 6:25 AM GMT
    Yes, though I do wonder when the Japanese consume large quantities of soy, and yet have a very low incidence of breast cancer.
  • Starboard

    Posts: 242

    Sep 23, 2007 9:11 AM GMT
    My observations are totally unscientific but from my personal experience with the typical Japanese diet, I would have to say that soy is a component but not a primary one (tofu and other soy products such as soy sauce are generally used as a supplement to meat, not a replacement for it)...but when it comes to the low rates of not only breast cancer but other cancers as well in Japan, there is much data to support the anticarcinogenic effects of green tea...
  • kew1

    Posts: 1595

    Sep 23, 2007 11:51 AM GMT
    Not all cheese is made with Rennet from calves, taken from the vegetarian soc web site.
    "Vegetarian Cheeses
    Vegetarian cheeses are made with rennets of non-animal origin. In the past, fig leaves, melon, wild thistle and safflower have all supplied plant rennets for cheese making. However, most widely available vegetarian cheeses are made using rennet produced by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehei. Vegetarian cheese may also be made using a rennet from the bacteria Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus prodigiosum.

    Advances in genetic engineering techniques mean that some vegetarian cheeses may now be made using chymosin produced by genetically engineered micro-organisms. The genetic material (DNA) which encodes for chymosin is introduced into a micro-organism which can then be cultured to produce commercial quantities of chymosin. This is done by extracting genetic material from calf stomach cells which acts as a template for producing the chymosin encoding DNA. This can then be introduced into the micro-organism. Once the genetic material is introduced there is no further need for calf cells. Alternatively, the chymosin encoding DNA can be bio-synthesised in the laboratory without the use of calf cells.

    The chymosin produced is identical to that produced by calf stomach cells. The development of genetically engineered chymosin has been encouraged by shortages and fluctuations in cost of rennet from calves. It's manufacturers claim that genetically engineered chymosin will end the cheese making industry's reliance on the slaughter of calves.

    Chymosin encoding DNA has been introduced into three different micro-organisms. These are the yeast Kluyveromyces lactis, the fungus Aspergillus niger var awamori, and a strain of the bacteria Escherichia coli. All of these have now been approved and cleared for use by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food. There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to state whether a genetically engineered rennet has been used in the cheese making process.

    Vegetarian cheeses are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores. A wide variety of cheeses are now made with non-animal rennet and labelled as suitable for vegetarians. No particular type of cheese is exclusively vegetarian. Soft cheeses are as likely to be non-vegetarian as hard cheese."
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    Sep 27, 2007 2:08 PM GMT
    While vegetarian cheese is OK, eschew vegan cheese. I miss cheese sometimes, but the vegan alternative is truly nauseating.
  • fryblock

    Posts: 387

    Sep 27, 2007 2:20 PM GMT
    not to be a bitch, but cod live roil isn't vegetarian
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    Sep 27, 2007 3:25 PM GMT
    plus can't flax seed oil supplements be taken to achieve the same benefit w/o any of the potential, "fishy," side effects? I don't take either, but I was told once by someone to used to take cod liver oil supplements that sometimes if they burped they'd taste fish.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Sep 29, 2007 4:54 PM GMT
    Get rid of the cod liver oil, it's from fish, so your not following a vegetarian diet if your eating animal products. Use flax seed oil instead, it's cheaper, no mercury, and you might even notice some positive health benefits by switching.

    Other than that, keep a clean diet and try to get as much protein as you can...and your all set! In the PHYSICIANS DESK REFERENCE book, which is usually on every MD's desk, it states that a LACTO OVO VEGETARIAN DIET is most likely the healthiest diet known. You can still eat eggs, cheese, and milk, that's what the 'lacto ovo" means.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. I've been a vegetarian since the early nineties when all those kids died of eating hamburgers from Jack In The Box...and then came Mad Cow Disease etc etc etc.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Sep 29, 2007 5:03 PM GMT
    Also, I think it's great that your making a healthy choice for yourself. Don't let yourself get bogged down right away by the cod liver, rennet, gelatin(you don't want to know) issues. Cut out the meat and in a few years if you want to cut out more do so. Every change counts! icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 11:36 AM GMT
    can I add a question?
    I'm vegetarian and I didn't give up on milk... I would like to be vegan, but it requires a lot of efforts and money - at least here in Italy.

    btw my curiosity is: how many times a week should one use tofu or tempeh or (wich I do love more) seitan?
    2-3 times a week? everyday?
    I don't really know and I was wondering how should I healthly use them >_>