Will Vegetarianism Affect Body Growth?

Updated: Jul 18

Today is a good day to dive into one popular myth surrounding the practice of vegetarianism -- the myth that cutting out animals and/or their products from our meals, will leave the vegetarian short of certain vital nutrients. Many credible sources of health information agree that there are six essential nutrients that the body needs for growth.

Essential nutrients are compounds that the body can't make, or can't make in sufficient quantity. According to the World Health Organization, these nutrients must come from food, and they are vital for disease prevention, growth, and good health.

These six essential nutrients are:

  • Protein

  • Carbohydrates

  • Vitamins

  • Minerals

  • Fats

  • Water

Protein is the number one nutrient on the lips of people who propagate the myth that, practicing vegetarianism deprives people of essential nutrients for growth. This is understandable since it seems to be common knowledge that animal flesh (meat) and their products (eggs, milk etc.) are the number one source of protein for humans. However, the fact that this is common knowledge, does not make it accurate. There are diverse sources of protein available to humans, many of which have nothing to do with animals or their products. Below are some examples of plants with high sources of protein, which give meat, and animal products a run for their money:

  1. Lentils ( has 18grams of protein per one cup serving)

  2. Black Beans, Chickpeas, Pinto Beans(has 15grams of protein per one cup serving)

  3. Tempeh (has 20grams of protein per 100grams serving)

  4. Edemame (has 19grams of protein per one cup serving)

  5. Tofu (has 20grams of protein per one cup serving)

  6. Peas (has 8.6grams of protein per one cup serving)

  7. Soybeans (28.6grams of protein per one cup serving)

  8. Corn (5.4grams of protein per one cup serving)

  9. Avocado (3grams of protein per one cup serving)

  10. Onions (2.9grams of protein per sone cup serving)

  11. Oyster mushrooms (2.8grams of protein per one cup serving)

  12. Tomatoes (1.8grams of protein per one cup serving)

This is a non-exhaustive list of plants that can very well provide us with our much-needed protein nutrients.

Carbohydrates are mostly from plants, so there is no question that a vegetarian diet might be lacking in cabohydrates. However when it comes to fats, there might be a few questions. Let's take a look then, at some plant based sources of fats:

  • Sunflower oil

  • Oils from the various nuts

  • Safflower oil

  • Avocado

  • Coconuts

  • Olives

Etc. In addition fats and oils from plant sources are proven to be more benefitial to human health, than that from animals.

When it comes to vitamins, there are thirteen essential vitamins the body needs to function optimally, and the good news for all vegetarians is that, none of these vitamins are exclusively found in animals and their products. Let's take a look at these essential vitamins, and their non-animal sources.

  • Vitamin A: mangoes, papaya, most squahes, sweet potatoes, corn etc.

  • Vitamin C: potatoes, berries, citrus fruits etc.

  • Vitamin D: sunlight, spinach, Kale, Collards, white beans etc.

  • Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, vegetable oils etc.

  • Vitamin K: brocoli, leafy greens, spinach etc.

  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): eg. fortified cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, grains.

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): eg. soy beverages, raw mushrooms.

  • Niacin (Vitamin B3): eg. Legumes, cereals.

  • Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5): eg. bananas, leafy greens, potatoes, soybeans.

  • Pyridixine (Vitamin B6): eg. Potatoes, grains, soybeans.

  • Biotin (Vitamin B7): eg. soybeans, grains, nuts.

  • Folate folic acid (Vitamin B9): eg. leafy greens, orange juice, asparagus, legumes.

  • Cobalamin (Vitamin B12): eg. nutritional yeast, fortified soy + almond milk, cremini mushrooms, fortified cereals.

Finally, just like vitamins, there are also thirteen essential minerals that the body needs for optimal health, none of which are exclusive to animal products. These minerals include, floride, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iodine etc. These essential and trace minerals are found in every day non-animal product foods like, grains, seeds, nuts, teas, water etc.

It is then settled with evidence, that the human body can function very well, on a vegetarian diet; bieng a vegetarian should not affect the growth of any human.

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