|The risks of nutrient deficiencies
From a nutritional viewpoint the various forms of vegetarianism are distinguished by the relative difficulty of obtaining from the diet all the amino acids required by the human body. Lactoovovegetarians who accept both dairy products and eggs are the least likely to develop nutrient deficiencies. Vegans who reject all animal derived products are without doubt the most likely. And lactovegetarians who accept dairy products but reject eggs are somewhere in between.
Earlier fears that vegetarians were bound to develop extensive nutrient deficiencies were somewhat exaggerated. At the same time, it makes sense to be as informed as possible, particularly so the closer one is to the Vegan model.
Proteins and amino acids
Complete proteins contain all the so-called "essential amino acids," that is, amino acids that must be obtained from the diet. From these essential amino acids our body can manufacture all the other amino acids and all the proteins it needs. This cannot be done with the incomplete proteins which are the usual fare of a vegetarian diet, unless they are so combined as to provide all the essential amino acids. A primary goal of vegetarians is to eat such combinations of foods, a few of which are,
Problems in the vegetarian kingdom
Another well known problem is vitamin B12 and how to obtain it from a vegetarian diet. A third problem is nutrient-nutrient interactions, such as calcium and iron, calcium and zinc, etc, which tend to diminish the absorption of some essential nutrients in the usual vegetarian food combinations. A fourth and actually major, if yet little understood problem, is whether one's genetic inheritance favors a vegetarian mode of life. Considerable and increasing evidence shows that not everybody can profit or flourish with a vegetarian diet, and it may be risky for yourself or for your children, without consideration of the genetic inheritance involved.
In more detail, our program includes,