Vegetarians and Sugar

Some vegetarians will not eat sugar and not just because it’s a highly refined substance that contributes no nutritional value. But because sugar is often whitened with bone char from cattle. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to continue eating products that contain sugar, but do not want to consume this small bit of animal product in the process, you have a number of options.

There are two major sources of sugar in the United States: beet sugar and cane sugar. Cane sugar is often whitened with bone char from cattle. Beet sugar is never whitened with bone char.

So, if you want to completely avoid the bone char, you can do so by eating only beet sugar. Your biggest challenge is going to be finding out which foods contain beet sugar and which foods contain cane sugar.

To make things more complex, you can also consume a number of types of cane sugar without realizing it. You need to figure out the source of the sweetener added to food.

You can do this in a lot of cases by looking at the nutritional panel on food before you buy it. If it says fructose or dextrose, the sugar is from beets or most commonly, corn. If it says sucrose, it could be from a number of sources, which could include bone char-whitened cane sugar.

Now, if you’re cooking with sugar, you can personally verify that is bone-char free by purchasing from the following companies which have publicly-stated that they do not use bone-char: Florida Crystals Refinery, Imperial Sugar Company, Irish Sugar Ltd., Sugar In the Raw (which is also less-refined), and American Crystal Sugar Company.

If you can’t find these brands, but want to avoid consuming bone-char sugar if possible, you can avoid these brands, which have publicly-stated that they do use bone-char: Domino, Savannah Foods, and C&H Sugar Company.

Get into the habit of reading the labels on packaged foods. You’ll soon start to be able to pick out the ones that are vegetarian-friendly. While you’re looking at that label, remember if any type of sugar is listed as the first ingredient, that means there’s lots of sugar in there. Vegetarian or not, keep all sweeteners to a minimum for good health.

Be a Healthy Vegetarian

Many people want to become a vegetarian but don’t know how to plan to succeed. Eating a healthy vegetarian diet takes more than simply not eating meat.

You need to start a vegetarian diet by devoting an adequate amount of time to nutritional research and meal planning. A considerable amount of people who start vegetarian diets do not last for more than 1-2 months because they haven’t taken the time to truly understand what this new lifestyle entails.

Many dieters who fail to carefully research and plan complain that they lack energy – and often experience a significant loss in muscle mass. Others observe a number of other more peripheral problems that come with a poorly-planned vegetarian diet.

If you fail to eat enough protein, you can experience a form of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM).  PEM  leads to muscle loss and subsequent feelings of weakness that are often accompanied by head and muscle aches.

This problem can be avoided by dietary changes. If you are experiencing PEM, you should either:
 a) find out what foods contain what amino chains, so you can combine them to form complete proteins
or
b) start consuming larger amounts and more diversified sources of protein, such as nuts, soy milk, and yogurt.

If you’re protein deficient, you’re often iron-deficient as well. Vegetarians can only consume non-heme iron which is more sensitive to iron inhibitors.  You may not consume enough to maintain healthy blood-iron levels. This can cause pervasive weakness and even anemia.

Most nutritionists suggest that vegetarian and vegan dieters consume roughly twice the recommended amount of iron while greatly reducing their consumption of iron inhibitors.

A smaller group of vegetarians suffer from a range of other peripheral, diet-related problems are often not consuming enough of the nutrients that they would normally take in unknowingly on a diet that includes meat and dairy products. These nutrients include, for example, zinc, calcium, vitamin b, and riboflavin.

Some recent studies have suggested that vegetarians also process certain types of foods with less efficiency because they consume different amounts and varieties of absorption inhibitors and enhancers.

Recent studies also suggest, however, that a vegetarian or vegan diet, when done right, is not only as healthful as a non-vegetarian diet, but it is also much more heart-healthy – and usually contains higher amounts of antioxidants.

What does this all mean for you as a prospective vegetarian? It means that eating a healthful vegetarian diet is not only a good alternative to your current diet, but it can also lower your chances of getting heart disease and cancer.

However, in order to eat a HEALTHFUL vegetarian diet, you must actually put in the time to research and plan. If you don’t, you most certainly will end up in one of the two groups discussed above. Take your time and do some research before jumping in with both feet.