What do we know about vegetarian diets? Here is a quiz based on the latest position paper on this topic by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND):
▪ In general, vegetarians a) eat plant-based diets; b) live in Big Sur; c) do not eat animal flesh; d) may or may not eat eggs or dairy products. Answers: a,c,d.
▪ Because my friend Michelle includes cheese and eggs in her vegetarian diet, she is a) “lacto-ovo” vegetarian; b) more fun at parties; c) more likely to have a high intake of calcium. Answers: a, c.
▪ Calcium is found in a) soybeans; b) spinach and kale; c) broccoli and turnips; d) dairy foods. All are correct.
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▪ According to research, vegetarian diets can be effective treatments for a) obesity; b) heart disease; c) type 2 diabetes; d) cattle rustling. Answers: a, b, c.
▪ True or False? Vegetarian diets that include a variety of plant foods provide the same quality of protein as diets that include meat. True.
▪ True or False? In order to get high quality protein, vegetarians must combine incomplete proteins – such as rice and beans, peanut butter on bread, or beans with cornbread – at each meal. False. As long as a variety of plant-based foods are eaten throughout the day, the body can get what it needs to make essential proteins, say experts.
▪ True or False? Levels of the active form of omega-3 fats known as EPA and DHA are typically low in vegans – those who avoid all animal-based products. True. EPA and DHA (found primarily in fish) are especially important during pregnancy and infancy for optimal development of brains and eyes.
▪ Vegetarians can help their bodies absorb iron from plant foods if they a) lift weights before every meal; b) eat more vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes, strawberries and citrus fruits; c) eat more beans, lentils, raisins and iron-fortified breads and cereals. Answers: b, c.
▪ Strict vegetarians may take in less than adequate amounts of a) steak houses; b) vitamin B-12; c) zinc; d) vitamin D. Answers: b, c, d.
▪ Vegetarians and especially vegans have a higher risk for low zinc intake than non-vegetarians because a) plant foods contain substances that interfere with the absorption of zinc; b) they need to eat more zinc than non-vegetarians; c) they are stubborn. Answer: a, b.
▪ Vitamin B-12 is especially important during pregnancy because a deficiency can result in a) sick babies; b) low birth weights; c) miscarriage. Answer c.
▪ According to nutrition experts, children who eat vegetarian diets a) can grow as well as non-vegetarian children; b) may have low intakes of vitamin B-12, iron, zinc and calcium; c) are more likely than non-vegetarian children to eat enough fruit and vegetables. All are correct.