National Geographic : 2005 Nov
READ ABOUT IT, THEN... Do ItYourself SECRETS OF LONG LIFE (SEE PAGE 2) Go Vegetarian Compared with meat eaters, vegetarians experience significantly lower rates of heart disease, some cancers, and other health prob lems. If you want to give the vegetarian life a try,there's good news: Eating well without meat is easier than ever. Grocery stores now regularly stock health ful meat alternatives such as tofu, and most restaurants-even steak houses-offer meatless dishes. The illustration above, showing the range of foods a vege tarian might eat in a day, should reassure you that you'll find plenty to eat even without red meat, fish, or fowl. Many vegetarians avoid eating meat for personal moral reasons. Even if you don't wish to cut out meat entirely, you can still reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet, says Katherine Tallmadge, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Plant-based diets include some lean meat but mostly comprise whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Key to any healthful eating plan is balance and variety. Experi ment. Cookbooks and websites to help you abound. A good place to start is the USDA's vegetarian resource list: nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs_ and_db.html. JOIN THE QUEST for longevity in a ten-day interactive expedition on Okinawa at ngm.com/0511. Do these foods look familiar? Except for the meat, a healthful vegetarian diet looks a lot like a healthful omnivorous diet. But vegetarians need to make sure they get enough of the following nutrients, which are more plentiful in animal products. Protein Toadd protein without meat, try cooking with tofu or use soy milk in your cereal. Whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts are also good sources. Vitamin B 1 2 This is a difficult nutrient to get without eating meat. Look for fortified soy products and breakfast cereals. Calcium Vegetarians can get calcium from spinach, kale, broccoli, almonds, or dairy products. Iron Avoid anemia; eat lentils. Chickpeas, beans, spinach, bran flakes, and dried fruit are also rich in iron. Zinc Eating pumpkin seeds, as well as beans and nuts (especially cashews), will give you the zinc your immune system needs. 3 MINDS This trio of veggie eaters didn't live forever, but they sure got a lot done while they were alive. * Henry Ford The auto pioneer advocated soy for use in both his vegetarian diet and his cars. * Benjamin Franklin This founding father gave up meat for a time, inpart to save money. * Leonardo da Vinci Avegetarian on moral grounds, the Renaissance man bought animals in order to free them. ARTBYJOHNBURGOYNE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * NOVEMBER 2005 Everything but the meat: a sampling of the foods in a vegetarian diet.