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New Year's Diet
April 2001

Q. I am a 33 year old women who for a new year's resolution decided not to eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. I do still use eggs, and dairy products. I am using veggie burgers in place of some meat but basically eat a lot of veggies and pasta, and meatless soups. I am slightly over weight but am a confident person so this was strictly for a resolution.

My husband and friends are afraid that I may not be getting the proper proteins that I need. I want to be smart in this new journey and do not want to harm my health. I have always been in the normal range for cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar levels. Will I be getting the complete protein and other vitamins that I need or will my new diet be incomplete in protein and vitamins? Any advice or help offered will be greatly appreciated.

A. You are smart in two respects. First of all, a low-fat, high fiber diet such as one that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in meat products is a healthy choice. In general, seafood, poultry (with the skin removed), and lean meat are 'heart healthy,' but it is okay to have a diet that doesn't include these foods. The major problem is developing a deficiency of some of the B vitamins that occurs only in animal products, but the use of eggs and other dairy products usually circumvents that. Another problem is to assure you have a adequate balance of diverse proteins. Still, you are wise to be concerned whenever you have anything but a broad-based, balanced diet. You may wish to visit: http://www.heartinfo.org/nutrition/vegdiet040199.htm (which gives an overview of a vegetarian diet with multiple references).

Also, a good book would be "Becoming Vegetarian : The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet" by Vesanto Melina, et al (Paperback - September 1995), which you can get for under $15.

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