Your Health Is In Your Hand!

1. Vegetarian Foods
2. Protein Myth and Calcium Plant-Based Diets          
3. Vegetarian diets for Pregnancy
4. Cooking without Eggs

     Vegetarian Foods

            Powerful for Health

A VEGETARIAN MENU is a powerful and pleasurable way to achieve good health. The vegetarian eating pattern is based on a wide variety of foods that are satisfying, delicious, and healthful.

Vegetarians avoid meat, fish, and poultry. Those who include dairy products and eggs in their diets are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegans (pure vegetarians) eat no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products. While there is a considerable advantage to a lacto-ovo vegetarian pattern, vegan diets are the healthiest of all, reducing risk of a broad range of health concerns.

A Healthy Heart

Vegetarian have much low cholesterol levels than meat eaters, heart disease is uncommon in vegetarians. The reasons are not hard to find. Vegetarian meals are typically low in saturated fat and usually contain little or no cholesterol. Since cholesterol is found only in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs, vegans consume a cholesterol-free diet.

The type of protein in a vegetarian diet may be another important advantage. Many studies show that replacing animal protein with plant protein lowers blood cholesterol levels--even if the amount and type of fat in the diet stays the same. Those studies show that a low-fat, vegetarian diet has a clear advantage over other diets.

Lower Blood Pressure.

An impressive number of studies, dating back to the early 1920’s. show that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than non-vegetarians. In fact, some studies have shown that adding meat to a vegetarian diet raises blood pressure levels rapidly and significantly. The effects of a vegetarian diet occur in addition to the benefits of reducing the sodium content in the diet. When patients with high blood pressure begin a vegetarian diet, many are ale to eliminate their need for medication.

Controlling Diabetes

The latest studies on diabetes show that a diet high in complex carbohydrates (which are found only in plant foods) and low in fat is the best dietary prescription for controlling diabetes. since diabetics are at high risk for heart disease, avoiding fat and cholesterol is the most important goal of the diabetic diet, and a vegetarian diet is ideal. Al though all insulin-dependent diabetics need to take insulin, plant based diets can help to reduce insulin needs.

Cancer Prevention

A vegetarian diet helps prevent cancer. Studies of vegetarians show that death rates from cancer are only about one-half to three-quarters of those of the general population.

Breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in countries where diets are typically plant-based. When people from those countries adopt a Western, meat based- diet, their rates of breast cancer soar.

Vegetarians also have significantly less colon cancer than meat eaters. Meat consumption is more closely associated with colon cancer than any other dietary factor.

Why do vegetarian diets help protect against cancer? First, they are lower in fact and higher in fibre than meat based diets. But other factors are important, too. For example, vegetarians usually consume more of the plant pigment beta-carotene. This might help to explain why they have less lung cancer. Also, at least one study has shown that natural sugars in dairy products may raise the risk of ovarian cancer in some women.

Some of the anti-cancer aspects of a vegetarian diet cannot yet explained. For example, researches are not quite sure why vegetarians have more of certain white blood cells, called "natural killer cells," which are able to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

The Calcium Connection

Vegetarians are less likely to form either kidney stones or gallstones. In addition, vegetarians may also be at lower risk for osteoporosis because they eat little or no animal protein. A high intake of animal protein encourages the loss of calcium from the bones. Replacing animal products with plant foods reduces the amount of calcium lost. This may help to explain why people who live in countries where the diet is typically plant-based have little osteoporosis even when calcium intakes is low.

Planning Vegetarian Diets

It’s easy to plan vegetarian diets that easily meet nutrient needs. Grains, beans, and vegetables are rich in protein and iron. Green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and dried fruits are excellent sources of calcium.

Vitamin D is normally made in the body when sun shines on the skin. Those who have regular sun exposure do not normally need to get vitamin D in foods. The only foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D are those that are fortified with it, such as commercial breakfast cereals, supplemental dairy products or soymilk, and multivitamins. Vitamin B12 is plentiful in some traditional Asian foods such as miso and tempeh. However, in the world of modern processing, the vitamin is not found in plant foods to any reliable extent. Although vitamin B12 deficiency is uncommon, strict vegetarians should be sure to include a source of this vitamin in their diet. Many commercial cereals are fortified with vitamin B12, as are many soy products, including some brands of soymilk. Multivitamins are also a good option.

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Protein Myth & Calcium in Plant-Based Diets

Protein- Everything you must know:

When I was still very young, I used to take lots of protein (non-animal) and I have always believed due to lack of  proper information, that I should take a lot of it as I live in a strict vegetarian family since we do not consume meat! Wrong!

Same is the case for many of us. In fact, reading the article: " Protein Myth", you'll be surprise to discover a new world of resources which we have borrowed as a means of  very resourceful information. However, you can write to:

PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
5100 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 404, Washington D.C. 20016, USA

or visit their web site:                                  
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Protein Myth

IN THE PAST, some people believed one could never get too much protein. In the early 1900’s, Americans were told to eat well over 100 grams of protein a day. And as recently as the 1950’s, health-conscious people were encouraged to boost their protein intake. The reality is that the average American takes in twice the amount of protein he or she needs. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers.

The Building Blocks of Life

People build the proteins of their bodies from amino acids, which, in turn, come from the proteins they eat. A varied diet of beans, lentils, grains, and vegetables contains all the essential amino acids. It used to be believed that various plants foods had to be eaten together to get their full protein value, but many nutrition authorities, including the American Dietetic Association, have determined that intentional combining is no necessary. 1 As long as one’s diet includes a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables, protein needs are very met.

The trouble with Too Much Protein

The average American diet contains meat and dairy products. As a result, it is too high in protein. This can lead to a number of serious health problems:

Kidney Disease: When people eat too much protein, they take in more nitrogen than they need. This places a strain on the kidneys which must expel the extra nitrogen through urine. People with kidney disease are encouraged to eat low-protein diets. 2 Such a diet reduces the excess levels of nitrogen, and can help prevent kidney disease, too.

Cancer: Although fat is the dietary substance most often singled out for increasing one’s risk for cancer, protein also plays a role. Populations that eat meat regularly are at an increased risk for colon cancer, 3 and researchers believe that the fat, protein, natural carcinogens, and the absence of fiber in meat all play roles. In 1982, the National Research Council noted link between cancer and protein. 4

Osteoporosis and Kidney Stones: Diets that are rich in protein, especially animal protein 5 are known to cause people to excrete more calcium tan normal through their urine 6 and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Countries with lower-protein diets have lower rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures.7

Increased calcium exertion increase risk for kidney stones. Researchers in England found that by adding about 5 ounces of fish (about 34 grams of protein) to a normal diet, the risk of forming urinary tract stones increased by as much as 250 percent. 8

For a long time was thought that athletes needed much more protein than other people. The truth is that athletes need only slightly more protein, which is easily obtained in the larger servings athletes require for their higher caloric intake. Vegetarians diets are great for athletes.

To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much, protein, simply replace animal products with grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight, the body gets plenty of protein.

1. Position of the American Diabetic Association: Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc., 1988;88:351-355.

2. El Nahas AM, Coles GA. Dietary treatment of chronic renal failure:ten unanswered questions: The Lancet, 15 March 1986:595-600.

3. Pellet PL. Protein requirements in humans. Am J Clin Nutr, 1950;51:723-737

4. Committee on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer of the National Research Council. Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer. Washington, DC, 1982.

5. ZemelMB.Calcium utilization: effect of varying level and source of dietary protein.Am J Clin Nutr, 1988;48:880-3.

6. Sherman HC. Calcium requirement in Man. J Biol Chem, 1920;44:21.

7. Hegsted DM.Calcium and osteoporosis Nutr,1986;116:2316-2319.

8.Robertson PJ, et al. The effect of high animal protein intake on the risk of calcium stone formation in the urinary tract.Clinical Science, 1979;57:285-288.
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Calcium in Plant-Based Diets

MANY PEOPLE CHOOSE to avoid milk because it contains fat, cholesterol, allergenic proteins, lactose sugar, and frequent traces of contamination. Milk is also linked to juvenile-onset diabetes and other serious conditions. Happily, there are plenty of other good sources of calcium.

Keeping your bones strong depends more on preventing the loss of calcium from your body than on boosting your calcium intake.

Some cultures consume no dairy products and typically ingest only 175 to 475 milligrams of calcium per day. However, these people generally have low rates of osteoporosis. Many scientists believe that exercise and other factors have more to do with osteoporosis than calcium intake does.

Calcium in the Body

Almost all of the calcium in the body is in the bones. There is a tiny amount in the blood stream which is responsible for important functions such as muscle contraction, maintenance of the heartbeat, and transmission of nerve impulses.

We constantly lose calcium from our bloodstream through urine, sweat, and feces. It is renewed with calcium from bone. In this process, bones continuously lose calcium. This bone calcium must be replaced from food.

Calcium needs change throughout life. Up until the age of 30 or so, we consume more calcium than we lose. Adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence is especially important. Later, the body begins to slip into "negative calcium balance," and the bones start to lose more calcium than they take up. The loss of too much calcium can lead to soft bones or osteoporosis.

How rapidly calcium is lost depends, in part, on the kind and amount of protein you eat as well as other diet and lifestyle choices.

Reduces Calcium Loss

A number of factors affect calcium loss from the body:

  • Diets that are high in protein cause more calcium to be lost through the urine. Protein from animal products is much more likely to cause calcium loss than protein from plant foods. This may be one reason that vegetarians tend to have stronger bones than meat eaters.
  • Caffeine increases the rate at which calcium is lost through urine.
  • Alcohol inhibits calcium absorption.
  • The mineral boron may slow the loss of calcium from bones.
  • Exercise slows bone loss and is one of the most important factors in maintaining bone health.

Sources of Calcium

Exercise and a diet moderate in protein will help to protect your bones. People who eat plant-based diets and who lead an active lifestyle probably have lower calcium needs. However, calcium is an essential nutrient for everyone. It is important to eat calcium-rich foods everyday.

The "calcium in foods" chart on the following page gives the amount of calcium found in some excellent plant sources. A quick glance shows how easy it is to meet calcium needs. The following sample menus each provide close to 1,000 milligrams of calcium.

Sample Menu # 1


1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins and

1/2 cup fortified soymilk

1 slice toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter

1/2 grapefruit


Whole wheat pita stuffed with humus (see recipe below),

sliced tomatoes, and lettuce, Carrot sticks.


1 cup baked beans with blackstrap molasses

Baked sweet potato

1 cup steamed collard greens drizzled with lemon juice

Baked apple


Banana soymilk shake


Simple Menu # 2


3 oatmeal pancakes with applesauce topping

Calcium-fortified orange juice

Fresh fruit


Bean burritos: black beans in corn tortillas, topped with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa

Spinach salad with tahini-lemon dressing


Chinese stir-fry over brown rice: tofu chunks,

broccoli, pea pods, water chestnuts, and

Chinese cabbage (bok choy)

Cantaloupe chunks drizzled with fresh lime juice


Dried figs

Calcium in Foods

Calcium (mg)


Brown rice, cooked, 1 cup


Corn bread, 12-oz, piece


Pancake mix, 1/4 Cup (3 pancakes) (Aunt Jemima)


Wheat bread, 1 slice


Wheat flour, all- purpose, 1 cup


Whole wheat flour, 1 cup



Apple, 1 medium


Banana, 1 medium


Navel orange, 1 medium


Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 8 oz


Pear, 1 medium


Raisins, 2/3 cup



Broccoli, 1 cup, boiled


Brussels sprouts, 1 cup, boiled (8 sprouts)


Carrots, 2 medium, raw


Celery, 1 cup, boiled


Collards, 1 cup, boiled


Kale, 1 cup, boiled


Onions, 1 cup, boiled


Potato, 1 baked


Romaine lettuce, 1 cup


Butternut squash, 1 cup


Sweet potato, 1 cup, boiled


Cauliflower, 1 cup, boiled



Black turtle beans, 1 cup, boiled


chickpeas, 1 cup, canned


Green beans, 1 cup, boiled


Green peas, 1 cup, boiled


Kidney beans, 1 cup, boiled


Lentils, 1 cup, boiled


Soybeans, 1 cup, boiled


Tofu, raw, firm, 1/2 cup


vegetarian baked beans, 1 cup


white beans, 1 cup, boiled


Source: Pennington JAT. Bowes abd Church’s food values of portions commonly used. Harper and Row, New York, 1989.

* Package information.

Note: we have used some of the items which are available in Mauritius.

Courtesy: PCRM-Vegetarian Starter Kit

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Vegetarian Diets for Pregnancy

DURING PREGNANCY your need for all nutrients increases. For example, you will need more calcium, more protein, and more folic acid. But calorie needs increase only modestly during pregnancy. In fact, you will need to pack all of the extra nutrition into just 300 extra calories a day. For that reason, all pregnant women need to choose their meals wisely. It is important to eat foods that are rich in nutrients, but not high in fat or sugar or excessive in calories.

Vegetarian diets, based on nutritious whole foods, are healthful choices for pregnant women. Use the chart below to plan your meals.

Whole Grains, Breads, Cereals
6 or more servings

Serving=1 slice of bread;1/2 bun or bagel; ½ cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta; 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
1 to 2 servings

Serving=1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw kale, collards, mustard or turnip greens, spinach, broccoli

Other Vegetables and fruits
4 to 5 servings

Serving=1/2 cup cooked; 1 cup raw; 1 piece of fruit; 3/3 cup fruit juice; ¼ cup dried fruits

Beans and Soy Products
3 to 4 servings

Serving= ½ cup cooked beans; 4 ounces tofu or tempeh; 8 ounces soymilk

Nuts, seeds, Wheat Germ
1 to 2 servings

Serving= 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds; 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 2 tablespoons wheat germ

Guidelines for Good Health during Pregnancy

  • Begin a healthful diet before you become pregnant. the early growth and development of your baby is supported by your body stores of nutrients.
  • Maintain a ready rate of weight gain. Aim for about three to four pounds total during the first trimester and then about three to four pounds each month during the second and third trimesters.
  • See your health care provider regularly (your doctor)
  • Limit empty calories found in highly processed foods and sweets. Make your calories count!

To make certain that you are getting adequate nutrition, pay particular attention to these nutrients:

Calcium: All of the groups above include foods that are rich in calcium. Be certain to include at least four servings of calcium-rich foods in your diet everyday. These include tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, bok choy, broccoli, beans, figs, sunflower seeds, tahini, almond butter, calcium fortified soymilk and calcium fortified cereals and juices.

Vitamin D: This nutrient is poorly supplied in all diets unless eat foods that are fortified with it. Many brands of ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with Vitamin D. However, the body can make its own Vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun. Pregnant women who don’t include fortified foods in their diets should be certain to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight on their hands and faces two to three times weekly.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is not found in most plant foods. To get enough of this important nutrient, be certain to consume one serving everyday of a food that is fortified with Vitamin B12. These foods include many breakfast cereals, some meat substitute products, and some brands of soymilk. Certain brands of nutritional yeast are good sources of vitamin B12. Be certain to read the label to find out which foods are fortified. Seaweed and products like tempeh are generally not reliable sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is also in all standard multivitamins and in vegetarian supplements.

Iron: Iron is abundant in plant-based diets. Beans, dark green vegetables, dried fruits, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, and whole grain or fortified breads (not available in Mauritius) and cereals all contain plenty of iron. (In Mauritius, we have green leaves like- watercress " Brède Cresson, Brède Songes, Brède Malbar). However, women in the second half of pregnancy have very high iron needs and may need to take a supplement regardless of the type of diet they follow. Your health care provider will discuss iron supplements with you.

A word about protein…. protein needs increase by about 30 percent during pregnancy. However, since most people consume abundant amounts of protein anyway, the average woman consumes more protein than is needed by a pregnant woman. Whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all protein-rich foods. The preceding meal-planning chart provides plenty of protein for pregnancy.

Menu Ideas

  • Plan meals around nutritious whole grains, beans, and vegetables. Add sesame seeds, wheat germ, or nutritional yeast for flavour and nutrition.
  • Cooked leafy green vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrition. Add them to soups and casseroles.
  • Snack on dried fruits and nuts to boost your intake of iron and other important trace nutrients.

              Sample Menu for Pregnant Women


Cold cereal topped with fruit and fortified soymilk

Toast with peanut butter. Juice


Tofu spread on whole grain bread with lettuce

Tossed salad with herbs and lemon juice. Fruit


Lentil and Rice Casserole flavoured with nutritional yeast and chopped tomatoes

Cooked broccoli. Spinach salad. Fortified soymilk


Trail mix with almond and raisins

Fruit. Tofu and fruit shakes

N.B. For our local need, you would better consult your nutritionist, as some of the products/ingredients mentioned are not available in Mauritius. Soymilk is very expensive and most often not available here and it has not good supporters here due to our local variants, that is, tastes and preferences.

The guidelines for breastfeeding mothers are similar to those for pregnant women. Milk production requires more calories so you will need to boost your food intake a little bit.

"Vegetarians Diets for Pregnancy" was prepared by Constance Dunbar, MPH, RD.
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                                     Cooking Without Eggs

not to use eggs in their diet. About 70% of the calories in eggs are from fat, and a big portion of that fat is saturated. They are also loaded with cholesterol- about 213 milligrams for an average sized egg. Because egg shells are fragile and porous and conditions on egg farms are crowded (N.B. In Mauritius, there is hardly no control), eggs are the perfect host to salmonella- the bacteria that is the leading cause of food poisoning in this country.

Eggs are often used in baked products because of their binding and leavening properties. But smart cooks have found good substitutes for eggs. try one of the following the next time you prepare a recipe that calls for eggs:

If a recipe calls for just one or two eggs, you can often skip them. Add a couple of extra tablespoons of water for each egg eliminated to balance out the moisture content of the product.

Egg less egg replacers are available in many natural food stores. These are different from reduced-cholesterol egg product which do contain egg. Egg replacers are egg-free and are usually in a powdered form. Replace eggs in baking with a mixture of the powdered egg replacer and water according to package instructions.

Use 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour or cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons of water to replace each egg in a baked product.

Use 1 ounce of mashed tofu in place of an egg.

In muffins and cookies, half of a mashed banana can be used instead of an egg, although it will change the flavor of the recipe somewhat.

For vegetarian loaves and burgers, use any of the following to bind ingredients together: tomato paste, mashed potato, moistened bread crumbs, or rolled oats.   
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