Sourcing Nutritional Requirements In Vegetarian Food Biology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

My assignment focuses on vegetarian cuisine, its history, different types of vegetarian diets, classfication of vegetarian food. It also elaborates on different nutrtional requirements and its sources in vegetarian diet.After that i have concentrated on the current and future trends of vegetarinisim in UK alongwith some vegetarian European recipes.

Vegetarian cuisine:

Vegetarian cuisine refers to food that meets vegetarian standards by excluding meat and animal tissue products. Vegetarianism is the practice of following a plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds, with or without dairy products and eggs.

A Brief History:

The term vegetarian was coined in 1847 by the founders of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain.The term "vegetarian" comes from the Latin word "vegetus," meaning active or vigorous.

Some of the world's oldest cultures advocate a vegetarian diet for health and religious purposes for example in India, millions of Hindus are vegetarians because of their religious beliefs. The yoga system of living and health advocates a vegetarian diet, because it believes that healthy food contains prana(universal life energy), which yoga experts believe is abundant in fresh fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables, but absent in meat because meat has been killed.

The principle of ahimsa (non-violence) appears in the Upanishads (Vedic literature) from 600-300 B.C.Act of killing animals or humans is considered sinful and results in rebirth as a lower organism. This became a fundamental element of Jainism, another religion of India.

[ 2010]

Now talking about the Western World Vegetarianism orinigated in Greece, Pythagoras and Porphyry were the best-known vegetarians.The Romans borrowed vegetarinism from Greek.The collapase of the Romans and spread of Christianity led to a "Dark Ages" in Vegetarinism. During this time, Christian thinkers such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas gave rational explanations for the slaughtering, consumption and exploitation of animals by human by putting forth the idea that only humans have wishes, intelligence, and spirits, and that animals were for general use by the humans.

The vegetarian "Renaissance" is said to have taken place during the late 18th and 19th centuries.The Bible Christian Church, founded by William Cowherd in 1809 in Manchester, England, played a major role in advocating and furthering the cause of vegetarianism. Members believed that Christ's teachings of mercy should be extended to animals and humans and considering vegetarian diet as healthier compared to non vegetarian. Members of this group later formed the Vegetarian Society in 1847-the first secular vegetarian organization in the West. They disseminated information in the form of essays and lectures. This group is presently known as the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom.

The movement was carried on into the 20th century by vegetarian societies working at the grass-roots level.Vegetarian organizations formed in most Western countries, and newsletters, books, and other publications promoting the diet became common.

In 1960s and 1970s, an array of inspiration congregated that had major propositions for vegetarianism: a fresh awareness of the significance of diet in sustaining health, fascination for Eastern philosophy and religion, concern over the degradation of the environment through human practices,the emergence of the peace movement, and a utopian belief in a perfectible society. All of these social trends carved pathway for the new era of modern vegetarinism.

[ 2010]

Important Years in the history of vegetarianism in UK:


Establishment of vegetarian society in Kent


A magazine called "Vegetarian Messenger" was launched.


Formation of London vegetarian Society


First vegetarian Hotel named The Pitman opened in Birmingham City


Formation of International Vegetarian Union(IVU)


Promotion of vegetarian dishes by the ministry of food.


Ministry of Food grants special concessions to vegetarians for extra rations of cheese and nuts during World War II


Formation of vegan society for practising non eating of animal products


Development of Vegetarian Nutritional Research Centre in Watford

1970- 1980

Vegetarian society started campaigning and education


Cordon Vert Vegetarian Cookery School established in Parkdale


Quorn brand was launched, a brand name of premium line of all natural, meat-free frozen foods.


First National Vegetarian Day celebrated on 2nd October 1991


Vegetarian food market exceeds £400 million in value


National Vegetarian Week started on 19th May, with the premiere of the film, "Meat the Truth" in London's Leicester Square Odeon

[ 2010]




Different Types of Vegetarians:


Veganism or strict or pure diet is a diet which involves complete elimination of animal as food and for other purposes. The term was coined by Donald Watson in 1944. All vegans refrain from meat, poultry, fishes, leather, dairy products, honey (there still exists an argument whether honey can be considered appropriate for a vegan diet), fur, silk, gelatin, whey, rennet etc.Vegans mainly avoid these things to stop expliotation of animals and environment.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

A lacto-ovo vegetarian abstains from consuming meat like fish, poultry, beef, pork etc but consumes dairy products and eggs.

Some are just Lacto-vegetarian, which denotes they consume dairy products like milk, butter, cheese but avoid eggs.

An Ovo-vegetarianism is the reversal of lacto vegetarianism, which means an ovo-vegetarian consumed eggs but not dairy products. This diet is also followed by people who are lactose intolerant.

The basic rationale for this diet can be assumed to be, that animal food produced without causing death or suffering to the animals can be consumed.

[vegetarian.about. 2010]


Raw Vegan or Raw Food Diet

Raw food diet promotes the consumption of organic, unprocessed, and uncooked food not heated above 46 degree celsius. Raw vegans believe that food cooked above this temperature lose siginificant amount of nutrients and thus are not good for the body. The diet includes raw fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, although raw unprocessed dairy products may also be included. 



A macrobiotic diet is a food regime promoting the intake of whole grains and avoidance of refined food. Thus this involves use of grains, seeds, beans, vegetables and seldom fish, with the recommendation for thorough food chewing.The most unique thing about this diet is the emphasis on the consumption of vegetables like daikon and seaweeds.



Fruitarians, as the name implies, consume mainly fruits or plants. A fruitarian consumes plant food which can be gathered or harvested without killing or harming plants. Sometimes a person is considered fruitarian; if the diet consists of 75% fruits.Fruitarians consume fruits and occasionally seeds, nuts and vegetables, like tomatoes.

Su Vegetarianism

A su vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat fetid vegetables, i.e. garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots. Su vegetarianism originates from Hinduism.




Classification of vegetarian food:

Traditional foods: include Cereals, Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts. Cereals and Grains are the most common source of Carbohydrate. Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts are rich in variety of Vitamins, minerals and Fibre.

Soy products: include tofu, soy milk, soy nuts, soy meal, soy flour, soy lecithin and soybean oil. It is high in protein and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers


Textured vegetable protein (TVP): is a high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour with flavored and unflavored varietiess in different sizes. TVP has a texture similar to cooked ground meat. TVP tastes good in dishes such as casseroles, pasta sauces, and vegetarian soups.

Dry TVP flake can be added to a variety of vegetarian dishes or used as an imperceptible meat extender or supplement to bulk out a meat dish.


Meat, Egg and Dairy Analogues:

A meat analogue approximates the aesthetic qualities such as texture, flavours, apperance and/or chemical characteristics of specific types of meat. It was first introduced in 1922, when a product called Soy Bean Meat was produced in Tennesse in North America.

Majority of meat analogues are made from soy and gluten but occasionally rice and almonds are also used. Meat analogues are tend to be made from lower fat materials and thus are considered healthier than beef, pork and dairy counterpart. The market for meat imitations includes vegetarians, vegans, non-vegetarians looking to cut down meat intake for health or ethical reasons, and people following religious dietary laws, such as Kashrut or Halal.Buddhist cuisine feature the oldest known use of meat analogues

(A vegan faux-meat pie, containing soy protein and mushrooms)

Some of the more traditional vegetarian meat analogues are based on centuries-old recipes for seitan (wheat gluten), rice, mushrooms, legumes, tempeh,pressed-tofu with flavouring. Some of the more-recent meat analogues include textured vegetable protein, soy concentrate, Quorn- the leading brand of mycoprotein food product in the UK, and modified defatted peanut flour to replace meat.

Dairy analogues may be composed of processed rice, almond, cashew, gluten, nutritional yeast, or a mixture of these with flavorings to make it taste like dairy products.Many dairy analogues contain casein, which is extracted dried milk proteins, making them inapt for vegans.Examples include Almond milk, Almond cheese, Soy milk, Soy cheese, Rice milk, Rice cheese etc.

Egg substitutes may be composed of tofu, tapioca starch, or similar products that recreate the leavening and binding outcome of eggs in baked goods. Fruit products like banana paste or applesauce are used as egg analogues in baking.Example include tofu scramblers and Ener-G (tapioca starch).

[Statemaster 2010]




Nutritional Requirements and Values:

Nutrients are divided into five classes namely carbohydrates, proteins, fats (including oil), vitamins and minerals along with fibres and water. All these nutrients are essentially fundamental but are required in varying quantities.

Meat provides protein, fat, some B vitamins and minerals (mostly iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorous). Fish, in addition to the above, supplies vitamins A, D, and E, and the mineral iodine. All these nutrients can be easily obtained by vegetarians from other sources, some are listed below: (Sources of various nutrients are mentioned in the following page).




Primary source of energy and powers brain, heart, muscles and internal organs


Protein is needed for growth and maintenance of body tissues, important for hormones and antibodies.


Primary purpose of fat is energy production and some are useful in preventing cancer and heart diseases. It is essential for manufacturing hormones and helps in the formation of other nutrients like vitamins in the body


Vitamin A

Formation of bone and tissues and also keeps skin and eyes healthy.

Vitamin B1

Energy building vitamin helps in digesting Carbohydrates and keeps heart and muscles stable

Vitamin B2 and Folic Acid

Formation of Red Blood Cells

Vitamin B6

Production of Antibodies

Vitamin B12

Carbohydrate and Fat Metabolism

Vitamin C

Protects teeth, bones and Gums, Improves Immunity and required for synthesise of collagen.

Vitamin D

Required for proper growth of bones

Vitamin E

Essential to prevent sterility and to break blood clots. Protection from damage to cells due to aging.

Vitamin K

Proper bone growth and blood coagulation helps in transporting calcium in the body.



Formation and maintenance of bones and teeth


Found in Red Blood cells to transport oxygen to cells, required for cell growth and differentiation


Required for normal growth, healthy immune system, Dna synthesis, Protein production, Cell division, Enzymatic activity and for normal sense of taste and smell


Synthesis of thyroid hormone which is required for body's growth, development, maintenance and to regulate body temperature.

Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system; support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, carrots are good for eyes because of carotenoids that the body converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems.

Minerals are required for the proper functioning of the human body and in maintaining good health.The entire body from the nerves to nails and all vital organs require adequate amounts of minerals to help them function properly




Various Sources of Nutrients in a Vegetarian diet:


Pulses: Beans, Lentils, Peas

Dairy products: milk, cheese, yoghurt

Nuts: Almonds, Brazils Cashews, Hazels, Pine Kernels, Walnuts etc.

Seeds: Linseed, Sunflower, Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds

Grains/cereals: Wheat (bread, flour, pasta etc), Barley, Rye, Oats, Millet, Maize (sweetcorn), Rice.

Soya products: tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, soya milk.



There are three main types of Carbohydrates namely:

Simple sugars: Fruits, milk and table sugar.

Complex Carbohydrates or Starches: Cereals/grains (bread, rice, pasta, oats, barley, millet, buckwheat, rye) and some root vegetables, such as potatoes and parsnips.

Dietary fibre: Unrefined or wholegrain cereals, fruit (fresh and dried) and vegetables.

Fats & oil:

Saturated Fats: Palm oil, Coconut oil, Butter and Cheese.

Mono-unsaturated Fats: Olive, Peanut and Canola oil

Poly-unsaturated Fats: Sunflower and Corn oil, Soybean.


Essential Fatty Acids:

Linoleic acid (LA) (omega-6): All sorts of Vegetable oil

Alpha linolenic acid (LNA or ALA) (omega-3): soy, rapeseed oils, walnuts, pumpkin seed and flaxseed

[natural-health-information 2010]


Vitamin A: Red, orange or yellow vegetables like carrots and tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and fruits like apricots and peaches, maragarine.

Vitamin B1: Whole wheat, Rice, Almonds, Groundnut, Egg, Milk

Vitamin B2: Whole wheat, Rice. Green leafy vegetables, Egg, Milk

Vitamin B6: Grains, Seeds, Green Leafy vegetables, Egg, Yeasts.

Vitamin B12: Cheese, Milk and Eggs. Vitamin B12 is not found in Plant based food. Thus vegetarians can obtain them from Vitamin B12 fortified food these include yeast, Vecon Vegetable stock, Soya milk, textured vegetarian proteins, breakfast cereals and margarines

Vitamin C: Fresh fruit, salad vegetables, all green leafy vegetables and potatoes

Vitamin D: Sun, milk, cheese and butter.

Vitamin E: Vegetable oil, eggs, Whole grain cereals.

Vitamin K: Fresh vegetables, cereals and bacterial synthesis in the intestine.


Calcium: Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, bread, hard water, nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds), dried fruits, cheese.

Iron: Green leafy vegetables, wholemeal bread, molasses, eggs, dried fruits (especially apricots and figs), lentils and pulses

Zinc: Cheese, Chickpeas, Cashews, Sesame and Pumpkin seeds, green peas, lentils and wholegrain cereals.

Iodine:  Dairy product, Vegetables and Sea vegetables like Nori, Wakama, and Kombu.


Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diet:

According to World Cancer Research Fund, sticking to a vegetarian diet cut down the chances of Cancer. Approximately 36 plant goods have been recognized to possess anti-cancer properties. These include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), umbelliferous(aromatic plants with hollow stems) vegetables and herbs (carrots, celery, cilantro, caraway, dill, parsley), other fruits and vegetables (citrus, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe, berries), beans (soybeans), whole grains (brown rice, oats, whole wheat),flaxseed, many nuts, and various seasoning herbs (garlic, scallions, onions, chives, ginger, turmeric,rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and basil).


A British study of 17 years by Key TJA, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, et al. regarding the Dietary habits and mortality of 11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people revealed that daily consumption of fresh fruit was associated with a 24 percent reduction in mortality from heart disease and a 32 percent reduction in death from cerebrovascular disease, compared with less frequent fruit consumption. Daily consumption of raw salad was associated with a 26 percent reduction in mortality from heart disease.

[vegetarian-nutrition. 2010]

According to some experts Vegeatarians and vegans may have a longer life span than non-vegeatarians (about 10 years). The yellow-orange and red carotenoid pigments in fruits and vegetables and Anthocyanin pigments, the reddish pigment found in fruits such as strawberries, cherries, cranberries etc. are strong antioxidants that capture free radicals and protect against cholesterol oxidation.

Epidemiological studies have constantly reported that frequent nut consumption is associated with a 30-60% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. A number of clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of diets containing almonds, Hazelnuts pecans, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, or walnuts to significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels by 7 -16 %, without much change in HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

A number of studies have shown that legumes lower blood cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar control, and lower triglyceride levels. Since beans are good sources of soluble fiber, vegetable protein and polyunsaturated fat, consuming a diet rich in legumes will lower risk of heart disease.

[vegetarian-nutrition. 2010]

[ 2010]

Key reasons why people chose to go vegetarian:

Nutrition: Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against heart disease, cancer, and strokes.Vegetarians are less likely to be obese than meat eaters. Well planned balanced Vegetarian diet provides all essential nutrients without the saturated fat, cholestrol and contiminants present in animal flesh, eggs and dairy products.According to a research, vegetarians have a stronger immune system and live on an average 6-10 years more than meat eaters.

Earlier, it was criticisized that vegetarian diet lacked certain vitamins, especially the B vitamins; but with increased awareness of our overall health and greater availability of targeting vitamin supplements this reason is growing ever less valid.

Cruelty against animals: The plight of animals is one of key reasons why many people choose a vegetarian diet.In the UK, 850 million animals and hundreds of millions of fish are killed every year for a non vegetarian platter - that is more than three million animals a day. Before they are slaughtered they lead dismal, disease-ridden lives on farms. Turning vegetarian means a person is no longer a part of that cycle of death.

Environmental Hazards: A vegetarian diet reduces pollution on land and in water. Modern farms are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to grow grains to feed cattle. These chemicals destroy topsoil and leak into the ground and nearby streams and rivers. High contents of toxic chemicals are often found in fish in many parts of the world's lakes, rivers, and oceans. It also reduces the depletion of marine lives and the destruction of corals & reefs.

Eating a vegan diet reduces waste and devastation of earth's precious resources. Large scale slaughtering of animals leads to loss of biodiversity Animals need to be transported to slaughterhouse which requires energy for its operation, then transport of flesh to processing plants and its operation and finally transportation of meat to grocery store and storage in frozen conditions till it is sold.


World Hunger: Animals consume ten times as much plant food than humans, yet the return is just a slight proportion of what is consumed in meat as well as dairy produce. Alternatively, crops grown for animal consumption can be used to feed people starving across the globe.

Health Dangers: presented by meat ranges from BSE, bird flu, foot and mouth.

Religion: Strict vegetarianism is followed by many people because of the religious factor.

Cost: There is no doubt that vegetables are far cheaper than meat. Although cheap meat can be bought, but the treatment of the animals behind the products is not so humane and government rules are not followed to highest standards. Even if imported fruit and vegetables are brought, there is still a reduction in the cost.




Potential health problems related to Vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian diet can be nutritionally well-adjusted, but requires careful preparation so as to integrate all the essentials nutrients especially those which are present abundatly in meat. Several studies have shown that poor meal planning results in nutritional deficiencies in vegetarian diets and not the mere absence of meat.

The nutrients which may be deficient in a vegetarian diet will depend on the food that has been omitted. But the major ones are:

Omega-3 fatty acids

The fat in fish provides the essential omega-3fatty acids,eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to decrease the development of atherosclerosis, reduce triglyceride levels, act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

To a limited extent, human body can produce EPA from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is found in vegetarian sources like flaxseed, walnut, tofu and canola oil. According to researches microalgae oil can serve as a source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans and vegetarians. Microalgae oil is rich in DHA and provides an appropriate quantity of EPA.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12  is found in food coming from animal source. The B12 found in plant foods can't be used by humans. Supplements made from plant sources have shown to contain B12 analogues, compounds that are structurally similar to B12 but differ functionally. These analogues have shown to compete with vitamin B12 and inhibit its metabolism inturn increasing the risk of B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia and irreversible nerve damage.

Vitamin B12 is found abundantly in seafood, dairy, eggs, and meat and therefore Vegans are at a greater risk of deficiency. Vegans can obtain Vitamin B12 from Food products fortified with B12 these inlcude fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, fortified energy bars etc.


The most well-known source of calcium is dairy products, which are greatly limited in vegetarian diets and are completely omitted in vegan diets.The non-dairy foods that provide calcium are calcium-fortified tofu, legumes, almonds, sesame and fortified soymilk.


Iron is essential for health and transporting oxygen to various parts of the body. A deficiency in iron causes fatigue and decrease in immunity. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal foods (red meat, fish, poultry), while non-heme iron is in plant foods (lentils, beans, Leafy vegetables, Chickpeas, blackeyed peas)

The amount of iron that the body obtains and uses from the food is known as iron absorption. The iron absorption from heme iron ranges from 15%-35% while the absorption from nonheme iron is only 2%-20%. Consuming vitamin C (citrus fruits, juice, and red pepper), increases the absorption of nonheme iron by the body.


Developments and trends in vegetarian cuisine in the U.K:

In England, vegetarianism got a huge boost from the mad cow scare.As of 2003 the Vegetarian Society estimates that there around 3-4 million vegetarians in the UK. There are twice as many vegetarian women as men. Regardless of the classification by the Vegetarian Society, some people in the UK wrongly identify as vegetarians while still consuming some or the other form of meat,while others use the term 'flexitarian' or part-vegetarian. 7% of the population of the UK, approximately 5 million people, are vegetarian. This figure is growing at the rate of 5,000 individuals each week, according to the UK's Vegetarian Society. Amongst younger people, the stats increase to 12 per cent. It is estimated that 41% of people in the UK are now reducing their meat intake. This likely makes UK the European country with the largest proportion of its population vegetarian. The Food Standards Agency's Public Attitudes to Food survey 2009 reported that 3% of people who participated in the survey were "Complete Vegetarian", 5% "partly vegetarian" (those omitting certain meat). As of 2009, people in the UK are now also being characterized as 'meat-avoiders' and 'meat-reducers' by marketeers, denoting people who are avoiding or reducing meat respectively for various reasons main being that of health, a one survey identified 23% of the population as 'meat-reducers', and 10% as 'meat-avoiders', but the same survey also indicated that 'vast majority' in the UK still eat meat, with one-in-five eating meat every day.



Trends in Vegetarianism in UK

The market in UK for meat-free and vegetarian food has seen a drastic and blooming change over the last two decades with no signs of any stoppage.

Reasons for this can me people getting more aware towards health conscious,Another reason can be diseases like mad cow disease which recorded highest cases in 1993 Vegetable food ingredients for instance Tofu, Meat analogues and Quorn are easily available and so are books on vegetarian diet. Vegetarian food to an extent has wider trends at the ease of forefront of the UK market.

As vegetaranism grew popular new varieties of vegetarian diet has been observed:

Ital - Originated in 1930s in Jamaica from the Rastafari movement. Cuisine is based on scriptural dietary guidelines and pacifism. Food is vegan except for honey, though some Ital restaurants serve fish.


Future trends in vegetarian cuisine in UK and across the globe

According to my research carried out for this assignment, I am able to interpret that:

Vegetarianism has gained its pace over the years and will continue to do so in coming years. Nowadays people are getting more health conscious and therefore choosing a vegetarian diet is much more helpful as eating high quantity meat has high health hazards like increase in cholesterol and obesity.

As more and more people are choosing to be vegetarian there will be increase in vegetarian hotels which might also serve vegan food for required type of customers.

As this trend is considered as niche market many celebrities will choose to be vegetarian and thus their fans following may too become vegetarian. Some of the celebrities who have already chosen to be vegetarian are Alanis Morissette, singer Alicia Silverstone, actress Pamela Anderson and many more.

Epidemic like mad cow disease has already led people choosing vegetarian diet and the doubt of its reoccurence has led to reduced meat intake.

Nowadays even everyday shopping places like Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury are promoting vegetarianism by way of fancy packaging and promotional offers which will help people to give up meat.

Also vegetarian people conducting rallies like Viva!'s National Rally on June 28 in Cardiff Bay will bring along lot of people under vegetarianism tag and increase awareness

However some might not completely give up eating meat but certainly they will reduce down their intake and consume more vegetables.