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Why fuss about Vegetarianism?

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th September 2009 03:00 AM

DAVID Ssali began an almost exclusively vegetarian diet 15 years ago. The homeopathic doctor, who runs the Dama Clinic in Kampala, avoids red meat, chicken and milk.

DAVID Ssali began an almost exclusively vegetarian diet 15 years ago. The homeopathic doctor, who runs the Dama Clinic in Kampala, avoids red meat, chicken and milk.

By Rebecca Harshbarger
DAVID Ssali began an almost exclusively vegetarian diet 15 years ago. The homeopathic doctor, who runs the Dama Clinic in Kampala, avoids red meat, chicken and milk.

Although vegetarianism is not common in Uganda, some people have found that switching to a plant-based diet has given them more energy, strengthened their immune system and reduced the individual impact they have on animals and environment.

“All life depends on a leaf,” says Ssali, whose grandchildren also follow a vegetarian diet. He says his immune system is stronger.

The vegetarian diet goes back to ancient India, where practitioners believed that animals should be treated in a nonviolent manner, rather than being killed for food.

Today, some vegetarians practise the diet for health reasons, while others for religious or ethical motives. Some remove red meat and chicken from their diet but eat fish. Others practise veganism, a strict form of vegetarianism that bans the use of all animal products.

In addition to meat or fish, vegans avoid milk and eggs and do not use animal products like fur or leather.

Although meat products have important micro-nutrients, it is possible to get the same vitamins in your diet by eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains.

Grace Rukundo, a nutritionist for GTZ, advises those eating a plant-based diet to include a wide range of protein-rich foods in their meals such as beans, simsim, groundnuts, soyabeans and cowpeas.

Vegetarian diets are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in fibre, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Fibre helps your body eliminate toxins easily, while vitamin C makes your immune system stronger. Studies have shown that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, Geoffrey Babughirana, a nutritionist specialist at the Ministry of Health, cautions vegetarians to balance their diet.

Eliminating meat from meals will not make your lifestyle healthier. Some vegetarians simply increase their intake of carbohydrates when they stop eating meat, rather than increasing the amount of protein they get from non-meat foods like beans and soyabeans, which are very healthy.

Benefits
Lower cholesterol
Less likely to suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure
High fibre, Vitamin C and E

Sources of protein for vegetarians
Sim sim
Ground nuts
Soya beans
Cowpeas

Why fuss about Vegetarianism?

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