Contributing Monkie Brendan Brazier
Published on June 28, 2009
Photographer: G Monkie (CC)
In the shadow of the “Standard American Diet”, the “modern vegetarian diet” has emerged. Although considerably healthier than the SAD, the “modern vegetarian diet” isn’t without its shortcomings. Mostly built on complex carbohydrates such as breads and pasta and fortified with processed soy products and laboratory created multi vitamins and minerals, the “modern vegetarian diet” lacks several health-promoting elements.
Interestingly, the “modern vegetarian diet” lacks vegetables, what ideally it should be built on.
When I first made the transition to a plant-based diet at the age of 15, I ran into several problems. As I learned more, and began to understand the subtleties of a plant-based diet, what mine lacked revealed itself.
Complete protein: Vital for muscle regeneration and hormone production, a lack of dietary protein quickly leads to a lack of optimal health. This is was one of my problems when I first adopted the diet in 1990. However, these days the chance of vegetarians lacking protein is slim. Due to a flood of soy and gluten-based products such as imitation hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and even bacon, options are plentiful. Unfortunately, the availability of these products have lead to another concern. Soy and gluten sensitivities are becoming prevalent, simply because so many of our foods contain more soy and gluten than the body can handle. Resulting in mild flu-like symptoms, fatigue, reduced sleep quality and sometimes even irritability, an over abundance of soy and gluten in the diet should be avoided. I opt for as many raw sources of protein as I can. Hemp is an excellent choice. I also like sprouted legumes, seeds and pseudo grains such as amaranth, quinoa buckwheat and wild rice.
The second is omega 3 fatty acid. Imperative, Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning that it must be obtained in diet — the body cannot manufacture it. A dietary absence can lead to a reduced ability to burn body fat and fuel, therefore causing it to accumulate. Healthy, shiny skin is in part a product of sufficient dietary Omega 3. Without it, dry scaly skin inevitably develops. Those who don’t eat a plant-based diet generally get their omega 3 from fish. However, my sources include flax seeds, Salba (a form of white chia) and to a lesser degree, walnuts.
Greens. Believe it or not, but the modern vegetarian lacks greens in his diet. Filling up on low nutrient foods such as refined grains and soy burgers leaves little room for vitamin and mineral rich greens. Vitamins and minerals that a wide assortment of green supply are in a more assimilatable form than those found in a laboratory created milt tablets. While some don’t realize it, but B vitamins are responsible for converting carbohydrate into usable energy. Without an adequate supply of them, carbohydrate would simply be stored as fat, and fatigue would be the result. Since greens are highly alkaline forming, a diet rich in them does not need a calcium supplement.
Bottom line: all the nutrition that’s needed for optimal health and performance can be obtained by eating the right plant-based whole foods.