International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Religion and Vegetarianism
How to Win an Argument with a Meat Eater
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

7. Common Dietary Concerns

Those considering a vegetarian diet generally worry about getting enough nutrients, since the belief that meat is a necessary part of keeping strong and healthy is still extremely widespread. Armed with decades of nutritional research data, the PCRM addresses this issue head-on:
"The fact is, it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide plenty of protein. Careful combining of foods is not necessary. Any normal variety of plant foods provides more than enough protein for the body's needs. Although there is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian diet than a meat-eater's diet, this actually an advantage. Excess protein has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the 'overdose' most meat-eaters get."
Other concerns are allayed as follows:
"Calcium is easy to find in a vegetarian diet. Many dark, green leafy vegetables and beans are loaded with calcium, and some orange juices and cereals are calcium-fortified. Iron is plentiful in whole grains, beans and fruits."

Vitamin B12: There is a misconception that without eating meat one cannot obtain sufficient v. B12, which is an essential nutrient. This simply not true. The PCRM advises: "Although cases of B12 deficiency are very uncommon, it is important to make sure that one has a reliable source of the vitamin. Good sources include all common multiple vitamins (including vegetarian vitamins), fortified cereals and fortified soy milk."

"During pregnancy one's nutritional needs increase. The American Dietetic Association has found vegan diets adequate for fulfilling nutritional needs during pregnancy, but pregnant women and nursing mothers should supplement their diets with vitamins B12 and D."

"vegetarian children also have high nutritional needs, but these, too, are met within a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian menu is 'life-extending.' As young children, vegetarians may grow more gradually, reach puberty somewhat later, and live substantially longer than do meat-eaters. Do be sure to include a reliable source of vitamin B12."

Besides the fortified cereals and soymilk mentioned above vitamin B12 sources that are widely available are multiple vitamins, brewers yeast and other potent dietary supplements.

Those interested in supporting or learning more about the work of the PCRM should write to PCRM, P.O. Box 6322, Washington, D.C., 20015.

How to Win an Argument with a Meat Eater -Index