the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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withoutcolour
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by withoutcolour » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:54 am

Make sure to take vitamin B12 supplements if you're not consuming a fair amount of dairy or eggs. B12 is important for the formation of blood and nerve cells, which are two of the most important cells in the whole body.

Also, regarding obtaining milk from a humane source, you can support your local dairy operations by buying local milk. Local small farms are more likely to treat their cows humanely than enormous milking parlors. I'm also partial to this idea because of the huge problem small dairy farmers are facing -- a lot of farms are going under nowadays because of the extremely small profit they're getting from milk production (and in the US, the government regulates the price of milk, thereby dictating the profit margin).

And as always, listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, talk to your doctor immediately.

Good luck, you're doing a great thing.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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Ben
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Ben » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:30 am

Hi Tex
Congratulations. I'm also thinking very seriously about making the move. As the only cook in the household, I'll have to implement my changes by stealth! I've already talked about changing with my wife but I think there is some attachment to meat within this household, particularly among my children. My attempts to adopt a vegetarian diet since we've had kids because the resistance within the family is too great.

With regards to your concerns about nutrition, it might be wise at this point to consult a dietitian. Its been over 20 years since I was a macrobiotic but the theory back then was that if you eat beans or cultured bean products such as tempeh and tofu with brown rice, you get a complete package of amino acids. Tempeh is particularly good as the action of the koji bacteria on the soy makes it a good (and digestable) protein hit. Spinach is good for iron as I think some seaweeds such as Nori (I think??) Mushrooms are a vegetarian source of B12 though I am not sure what amount. Personally, I'm also going to steer clear of eggs and diary. I've never been a big fan of eggs and while I enjoy milk and cheese (I love cheese), according to my doctor, the type of fat found in dairy is very readily absorbed by the body and forms around vital organs. For the same reason i'm also going to give up chocolate. Quite apart from the health benefits, there is also compassionate reasons that, I believe, are prescient and overwhelming.

A couple of good cookbooks that might help you with the transition:

-- World Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, and
-- Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

My friends love to give me cookbooks because they know I love cooking but those two works by Jaffrey are like bibles to me.
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Tex
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Tex » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:36 am

Great advice and suggestions here, much appreciated! And thanks for the encouragement as well.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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Lampang
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Lampang » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:53 am

What about iron? Supplements? Do they get the iron that they put in the pills from animals?
I think you're safe. Extracting iron from animal sources is going to be a pretty involved process - there are much easier ways of getting hold of it. By coincidence, I was just looking at recipes for making tofu at home and 100g of it gives you 40% of your RDA. Sea vegetables are also very high in iron and - I think - many of the leafy green vegetables aren't bad.
Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
Seconded. This is a really good book and worth buying for the sake of the recipes, vegetarian or not.

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Ben
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Ben » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:08 am

Lampang wrote: I was just looking at recipes for making tofu at home and 100g of it gives you 40% of your RDA.
You're going to make tofu at home? If so, I take my hat off to you!
I tried it once and - never again! It was such a frustrating effort. It was far more satisfying making my own seitan.
Seconded. This is a really good book and worth buying for the sake of the recipes, vegetarian or not.
Yes, I have cooked for dinner parties from recipes in Eastern Vegetarian Cooking and received great complements regarding the food from guests - and subsequently inadvertently turned a few people on to vegetarianism as a result.
You can't go wrong with it.
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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DNS
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by DNS » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:38 am

Tex wrote: 4) Are there any potential health changes or concerns that I need to be aware of in making this switch rather abruptly? This wasn't intended to be a New Year's resolution, that's just how it worked out -- I made the decision a couple weeks ago and this is when the meat in the freezer ran out (can't afford to throw out food that's already been paid for). So I've been a regular meat-eater all my life up through yesterday -- is stopping meat consumption so abruptly anything to be concerned about?
Congratulations on making the switch! I went "cold turkey" too, just an abrupt change one day, over 25 years ago after learning about the First Precept. There is nothing wrong with the abrupt change, in my opinion. The reason is because there is nothing very healthy in eating meat. All of the protein and vitamins can be found in vegetarian foods. Like any diet, it can go bad if only junk food is eaten, but as long as it is a well-balanced vegetarian/vegan diet, there will be no problem with an abrupt change.

Iron and most other supplements are from vegetarian sources. Some omega-3 supplements are made from fish oil, but flax seeds, walnuts, and other vegan sources also contain omega-3.

If you wanted to make a gradual change, I would suggest lacto-ovo at first and then slowly see if you can go all the way to vegan. But there is no need to continue meat, even in moderation, if you don't want to eat it anymore.

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Naga
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Naga » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:38 pm

Lentils and spinach will give you all the iron and protein you ever need. You can get both at once with a good lentil-spinach soup.
My wife is Thai, so at home she cooks a lot of Thai dishes (curries w/ rice & fried noodles with veggies mostly) using fried tofu instead of chicken or pork.
I've been learning how to cook Indian food lately. So many good vegetarian dishes they have. A few days ago I made chana masala, "chickpea curry" that was awesome.
A lot of Mexican food can be made veggie as well: bean burritos, quesadillas, guacamole, etc.
You can find a lot of free recipes on the Internet. There's tons of cooking videos on YouTube.
I don't take any supplements at all, and I'm in excellent health.

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Annapurna
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Annapurna » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:21 pm

Tex wrote:Yep, after contemplating it for quite some time, I finally decided I'm not going to eat meat anymore. Even if I'm not directly responsible for the animal being killed, I'm just no longer okay with eating anything that was once a sentient being. Never would have imagined this a couple years ago! But here I am.

So I've made the decision and have done some research online, but I still have some questions, and I know we have quite a few vegetarians here, so I'd appreciate any guidance...

1) What about iron? Supplements? Do they get the iron that they put in the pills from animals?

2) I think I've found a variety of rices, pastas, beans, whole grains, nuts, etc to keep my protein level fairly close to where it is now (I'm a big guy and I work out regularly, so I need around 80-100 grams a day), but do any of you use protein supplements, shakes, etc? I'm just leery of any "protein supplements" since the FDA tends to ban things after they've been on the market. Any recommendations here?

3) Dairy? If I continue to eat dairy, this solves the protein dilemma easily. But would it be hypocritical for me to stop eating meat because I don't want animals killed for my consumption while still continuing to consume dairy from animals that often are treated very poorly in a dairy farm? Thoughts here?

4) Are there any potential health changes or concerns that I need to be aware of in making this switch rather abruptly? This wasn't intended to be a New Year's resolution, that's just how it worked out -- I made the decision a couple weeks ago and this is when the meat in the freezer ran out (can't afford to throw out food that's already been paid for). So I've been a regular meat-eater all my life up through yesterday -- is stopping meat consumption so abruptly anything to be concerned about?

Thanks in advance for any input or guidance.
Tex! Congratulations!
1) What about iron?
A man doesn't menstruate, or lose blood during birthgiving.

So he doesn't lose as much as a woman, and has less danger to develop a deficiency right away. Meanwhile, one has time to study websites about iron.
Supplements?
I quite regularly take some supplements, but not because of a lack of meat protein. More because not even the veggies we eat contain what they used to contain in earlier times, due to depleted soils, long storage, fruit harvested unripe...

And my supplements taste nice. I like to have strong fingernails, healthy hair and bones, nice skin, calm nerves, and stuff like that. Why not.
2) I think I've found a variety of rices, pastas, beans, whole grains, nuts, etc to keep my protein level fairly close to where it is now (I'm a big guy and I work out regularly,
Most Westerners eat way too much protein anyways, and are obsessed with it. They suffer
from high bloodpressure, high cholerestol, etc, as a result. Don't worry about it, initially. You may get rid of excess and it's results.

There are websites about Vegan Marathon runners and bodybuilders, who achieve premium results without meat.

3) Dairy? If I continue to eat dairy, this solves the protein dilemma easily. But would it be hypocritical for me to stop eating meat because I don't want animals killed for my consumption while still continuing to consume dairy from animals that often are treated very poorly in a dairy farm? Thoughts here?
Go organic. Animals are kept a lot better there.
4) Are there any potential health changes or concerns that I need to be aware of in making this switch rather abruptly?
Yep, as Bubbabuddhist pointed out, overchallenging the body with abrupt changes is unwise, the body is a creature of habit and suffers and rebels when changes are too drastic, and can cause unwellness. This is also why many diets fail.

However, slow changes the body/mind unity will often welcome with well being.
So I've been a regular meat-eater all my life up through yesterday -- is stopping meat consumption so abruptly anything to be concerned about?
No. You'll survive. ;)

For a start you could reserve meat for Sundays, and then go without during the week.

That's what I do. It works fine. After sundays I'm fed up with meat and welcome pure veggie food. After the week, I look forward to some chicken or fish.

That is my middle path in food...

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Annapurna
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Annapurna » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:29 pm

Naga wrote:Lentils and spinach will give you all the iron and protein you ever need. You can get both at once with a good lentil-spinach soup.
Please forgive me the small correction but that with spinach is a medical myth! :hug:
You remember the cartoon character, Popeye, who eats a can of spinach when he wants to develop some quick muscles.

Popeye's creators chose spinach -- instead of, say, brussels sprouts or broccoli -- because of an 1870 German study that claimed spinach contained about as much iron as there is in red meat!

In reality, this was nothing more than an accounting error. The scientists put the decimal point in the wrong place!

The iron content of spinach is actually one-tenth of what was reported. The mistake was corrected in 1937. It was too late for Popeye, though. He’d already been getting strong on spinach for almost 10 years!

Spinach does contain iron, but no more than other leafy vegetables.

In fact, the iron in spinach is not easily absorbed by the body unless it’s combined with an acid, such as a squirt of lemon juice.

If you are a spinach fan regardless of its iron content, you’ll still benefit from its high vitamin C and riboflavin content.

If, on the other hand, you’ve been choking spinach down all these years in the hopes of building your biceps, now you have an excuse to stop!
:anjali:

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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by alan » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:52 pm

Hi Tex
3 grams a day of Chlorella and/or Spirulina will take care of any problems you might otherwise encounter with trace elements.
Eggs and cheese are your new best friends. "Cage-free" eggs are produced by chickens that have access to the outdoors and are a good choice. Don't be afraid of the yolks!
Organic Valley produces an excellent array of raw, organic cheeses that are delicious and healthy. Both of these should be available in any upscale market in your area.
There are many awful protein powders on the market. You want one that is "non-de-natured", that preserves the amino acid called Cysteine, which your body needs to produce Glutathione, an extremely potent anti-oxidant. My favorite is from Jarrow brands. You can order it at Vitacost.com. Mix it with some water and coconut milk to before your workout.
General health tips: Fish oil is good, Krill oil is far superior.
High Fructose Corn Syrup=poison.
Trans-fats=poison.
And avoid Tofu!
Hope this helps a bit--
Alan

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Potato
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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by Potato » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:11 pm

Congratulations, Tex! I went vegetarian rather abruptly six years ago and have never looked back.

Protein: in the modern Western world, getting enough protein is not an issue. Just make sure to eat something with whole grains and something with beans daily. If you are concerned about it because you work out, Vegan Bodybuilding may be a site where you can get some good information.

Iron: You can get iron from spinach and other dark green and leafy vegetables. Eat plenty of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other greens (like kale and chard and beet greens) and you'll be fine. Claims about spinach not containing much iron are exaggerated. Spinach contains non-heme iron, which is not as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron (found in animals), but the difference is not great enough to worry about as long as you are eating an otherwise balanced diet.

Eggs and dairy: That's a personal choice. I don't use animal milk because I lost my taste for it (separately from becoming a vegetarian), so I usually use almond or soy milk. On th other hand, I still eat cheese and occasionally eat eggs.

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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by DNS » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:23 pm

alan wrote: General health tips: Fish oil is good, Krill oil is far superior.
They are not vegetarian. If it is for the omega-3 benefits, those same benefits can be gained from eating flax seeds or walnuts.
High Fructose Corn Syrup=poison.
Trans-fats=poison.
Agree.
And avoid Tofu!
Why? I eat tofu all the time with no ill effects. I know there are some studies showing too much soy can cause some problems, but it is like anything; it must be done in reasonable levels. If someone eats pounds of tofu and soy milk everyday, all day long, there will be ill effects, in the same way if someone eats broccoli all day and nothing else. The diet must be well-balanced and include a variety of vegetarian/vegan foods.

There is no need for meat for any nutritional reason(s).

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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by DNS » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:28 pm

Potato wrote: Protein: in the modern Western world, getting enough protein is not an issue. Just make sure to eat something with whole grains and something with beans daily. If you are concerned about it because you work out, Vegan Bodybuilding may be a site where you can get some good information.
:thumbsup:

A friend of mine, Tim Van Orden is 40 years old and regularly wins stairclimbing competitions, defeating 20 and 30 somethings for the overall championship, not just for his age class. He is a raw food - vegan.

http://runningraw.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by alan » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:09 pm

Yes, Krill are animals, but there are hundreds of millions of them, and they constantly regenerate. If the primary concern is to avoid all animal products, ok, stay away. But as a general health tip it is a good thing to take Krill oil.
Everyone knows now about the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil delivers this in the most potent way. It also contains Astaxanthin. As for flax and walnuts, I'm all for it. But there is some debate about whether or not ALA is converted into Omega-3 in the body. I'll put my money on Krill oil for over all health benefits, for those not going very strictly veg.

As for Tofu,
I promise this is the last time I'll mention this site--westonaprice.org.

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Re: I'm a new vegetarian! Some questions...

Post by DNS » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:27 pm

alan wrote: As for Tofu,
I promise this is the last time I'll mention this site--westonaprice.org.
What a terrible website! It looks to be an anti-vegetarian propaganda site. :)

According to that site, I should be dead already! :D

If vegetarian diets are that bad, why are vegetarians so healthy, less cholesterol, normal blood pressure, less heart disease, etc.?

The longevity rates in industrialized countries have gone up, not down as people consume less of those "pure protein" animal sources (which are praised so highly by the author of that website).

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