Many people go into the vegitarian lifestyle without really knowing what it is all about. The vegetarian diet is not an easy one, since there are so many restrictions and you have to mix and substitute food sources to come up with a nutritionally-sufficient meal. Going into any diet where food restrictions are present also puts a person at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Being a vegitarian means that you have to cut back on animal food sources such as animal meat, eggs, and even milk. This cuts important protein sources from the diet although you can easily replace these with plant-based protein sources. Finding those sources, and ensuring that you get all the nutrients you need, is often the challenge that most vegetarians face.
The challenges that a person faces when he becomes a vegetarian depends on the kind of vegetarianism that he wants to follow. The most risks have to be present in strictly vegan diets, which restrict their intake to plant-based foods and eliminating even fish meat and honey. Other vegetarian diets may pose lesser risks but if a person goes into the diet without proper research about what food sources to derive his nutrient needs from, he could fall into the mistakes of not consuming enough nutrients, which could result to the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. Common nutrient deficiencies include deficiencies in Vitamin B12, zinc, calcium and iron. Some people especially strict vegetarians may also experience deficiencies in lysine and methionine. This deficiencies could put the person at risk for other conditions such as osteoporosis, which results from a deficiency of calcium in the bones, as well as rickets which is due to a lack of Vitamin D. Iron deficiency anemia may also occur in persons who do not take enough iron, which is present in large amounts in animal meat. Children placed on a strict vegetarian diet may also be placed at risk for emaciation or slow growth.
The challenges and risks that may accompany vegetarianism are not absolute, however. With the right planning, a vegitarian diet that provides the body with all the needed nutrients is possible. With today’s technology vegetarians around the world can share food tips and recipes so that they can prepare meals which contain all the nutrients the body need. Vegetarians are now at a better place to do research about new meals and dishes since with the volume of vegetarian recipes available, one can create new and delicious vegetarian meals that also contain the right amount of essential nutrients.