When compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians consume less amounts of salt and fat but on the whole, vegetarians were consuming a better mix of nutrients than non-vegetarians, a study conducted by the Delhi-based South Asia Network for Chronic Diseases (SANCD) concluded.
Vegetarian foods are also less in Vitamin B12, Zinc and Iron but have high amounts of Vitamin C and Folic Acid, the study said.
Presenting the findings at a two-day national conference held by Nutrition Society of India (NSI) here, SANCD representative Kritiga Sridhar said that vegetarians “fared well” when compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts.
The study was conducted in four factories – one each in Delhi, Nagpur, Hyderabad, and Bangalore – to find the dietary habits of migrant and non-migrant labour in these four cities.
“The study found vegetarian families of the migrant workers doing better than their non-vegetarian peers,” she explained.
Yet another study conducted by Ramya Rajendran, a student of Bangalore-based St. John’s Research Institute, also found that vegetarians can have a better and balanced diet.
The study also dispels the notion that vegetarians do not get enough protein, pointing out that vegetarian foods do provide the complete set.
“Cereals like rice and wheat do not have Lysine, an essential amino acid, but this shortcoming can be easily overcome by consuming pulses and milk,” Ms. Rajendran said. For children, a wholesome diet should contain 250 ml milk, 300 grams of cereals and 60 grams of pulses.
Vegetables, apart from adding flavour, mainly provide micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and other essential ingredients like carbohydrates, she said.
Held over two days, the conference, held at National Institute of Nutrition, saw scientific and technical deliberations by research scholars from across the country. The NSI also organised debates on food security and malnutrition.
Vijayata Sengar from M.S. University, Baroda was selected for the Senior Award in Community Nutrition during the 45 National Conference by Nutrition Society of India. Aiswarya Ravichandran from NIN won Junior Award in Community Nutrition and K. Mary Anne Preentha from the Coimbatore-based Avinashalingam Institute of Home Sciences won the Junior Award in Experimental Nutrition.