This week is the best time of year to switch to an all vegetable diet. Learn some basic vegetarian nutrition.
Health: Go veggie but stay healthy, Just because something is labelled 'jay' doesn't mean it's necessarily good for you' by Napamon Roongwitoo
Today is the official start of the annual Kin Jay (vegetarian) festival when many Thais, especially those of Chinese ancestry, embark on a 10-day purification ritual, abstaining from all animal products, alcohol and substances thought to over-stimulate the senses like onions, garlic, celery and certain spices.
They do so hoping to cleanse their minds and bodies and while one would assume that such a strictly vegetarian diet would be very healthy some of the food on sale during the festival needs to be approached with caution.
For people who generally give up meat only at this time of year, vegetarianism, and especially the strict jay variety adhered to during the festival, is unknown territory. How do I make it taste good without adding fish sauce? So what can I put in? But isn't garlic a vegetable? So why isn't this jay, then.
The dietary restrictions give rise to a seemingly never-ending series of questions. Doubts about which ingredients have to be avoided coupled with the ready availability of tempting vegetarian treats from stalls that pop up along practically every street, cause many people to buy food rather than cook for themselves over this 10-day period.
Dr Anadi Nitithamyong, an assistant professor at Mahidol University's Institute of Nutrition, thinks it is fine to buy takeaway jay food as long as you know what's in it. And because they taste so much like the real thing, one of the biggest traps, she says, is the range of ersatz meats - "vegetarian pork", "vegetarian chicken", etc - which are prepared especially for the festival.
"Mock meat is not unhealthy per se. It can be a good source of protein. However, there are some kinds, such as imitation meatballs or imitation sausages, which are made of konjac [aka glucomannan, a bland, rubbery substance made from the tuber of a perennial plant called Amorphophallus konjac]. This type of product does not contain much protein and can only replace real meat in terms of taste, but not nutritional value. So before you choose mock meat, make sure you know what it's made from," Dr Anadi said.
This is a red flag for those of you who are allergic to soya beans, as many imitation meats are made from soya-bean protein.
Two other types of mock meats are generally available. One is made from TVP, a textured vegetable protein usually derived from soya beans. The other is composed of wheat gluten (aka seitan), better known here as mi kueng. Wheat gluten, Dr Anadi explained, is made by rinsing a ball of wheat-flour dough under running water for a while. The starch in the dough dissolves in the water and is washed away, leaving a lump of sticky, protein-rich gluten. Soya beans, by-products such as soya milk and tofu, and wheat gluten are all important sources of protein in a vegetarian diet
As for TVP, Dr Anadi is of the opinion that eating properly cooked soya beans, the source of this processed convenience food , is a much healthier choice. She went on to make the point that plant-based protein can replace animal-based protein only in terms of quantity, not quality. The variety of essential amino acids in plant-based protein is not as great as in animal-based protein, she noted. Protein is composed of chains of different amino acids. Nine of these (some authorities put the figure at eight) are termed "essential amino acids" because they cannot be created from other compounds by the human body and so must be taken in as food.
Plant-based proteins may not have all nine. However, soya protein is regarded as a so-called "complete protein" because it contains adequate quantities of all nine essential amino acids.
"Soya has all the essential amino acids, in almost the same amounts as meat, making soya protein the nearest plant-based protein in terms of quality to animal-based protein. Wheat is also a good source of protein but it is low in lysine," she said. Lysine is an amino acid that is required for growth and bone development in children and which assists in calcium absorption as well as in the repair of tissue.
Of the nine essential amino acids, lysine is one of four "limiting amino acids" - the other three are methionone, threonine and tryptophan. The term "limiting" is used because a deficiency in any one of the four will limit the usefulness of the others. Apart from in meat and dairy products, lysine is also found in nuts, seeds and oats.
Ensuring an adequate intake of protein is not the only concern of those who follow a strictly vegetarian diet full time. Another important nutrient, not commonly found in plant foods, is vitamin B12. "Inadequate vitamin B12 intake ... won't likely be a problem during a 10-day abstinence from meat, but longer than that could be risky. B12 is commonly found in meat, but also in some plants. Nuts and seeds are a good source of plant-based B12 as are fermented soya products," Dr Anadi explained
To maintain optimum health, especially if you are a long-term vegetarian, Dr Anadi advises consuming as wide a variety of foods as possible.
A combination of various foods will provide better nutrition. Nutritionists recommend eating fruit and vegetables of a variety of different colours [red, orange, green, purple and white] for the all-around health benefits.
"One of the most popular foods during the Kin Jay festival are preserved vegetables such as kana chai. But this can be bad for your health especially if bought from unreliable sources, Dr Anadi warned: "Preserved vegetables, especially those sold in [fresh-produce] markets, can be unhygienic or contaminated. Canned products may be more reliable, provided that the cans aren't dented, swollen or rusty," she added.
Exercise caution when buying preserved foods like kana chai ; those on sale in markets sometimes contain dangerous contaminants.
But frozen or canned vegetables are not nearly as nutritious as the fresh variety. "During processing, food is exposed to high levels of heat which kills many nutrients, especially anti-oxidants. More nutrients also dissolve in the salty water used for preserving foods. And since we normally discard this water, we lose the benefit of those useful nutrients. Anyway, canned vegetables are mostly fibre; they contain very few nutrients."
To parents who want their kids to kin jay for the next 10 days, Dr Anadi had these words of advice: "During the festival, children will need to drink soya milk, especially calcium-fortified soya milk, to make sure they get adequate protein and calcium which are important for their growth."
(Source: Bangkok Post, Health, Go veggie but stay healthy, Just because something is labelled 'jay' doesn't mean it's necessarily good for you', 27/09/2011, Napamon Roongwitoo, link)
Vegetarian Nutrition Vocabulary
annual Kin Jay (vegetarian) festival - "In Thailand this festival is called Tesagan Gin Je เทศกาลกินเจ, the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Chinese... During a period of nine days, those who are participating in the festival dress all in white and gin je กินเจ, which has come to be translated as abstinence from eating meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products. Vendors and proprietors of restaurants indicate that je food is for sale at their establishments by putting a yellow flag out with the word เจ (je) written on it in red. However, technically, only food prepared in the sacred kitchen of the Chinese temple (in Thailand, called san jao ศาลเจ้า or ahm อ๊ำ) is je, as it must undergo a series of rituals before it can be given that name. เทศกาลกินเจ
vegetarian - eating only vegetables, not meat (See Wikipedia)
veggie - same as "vegetarian"
go veggie - become a vegetarian (maybe for only a short period of time)
tofu - "Tofu or bean curd is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine ...Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. ...Chinese legend ascribes its invention to prince Liu An (Chinese: 劉安, 179–122 BC). ...Tofu contains a low amount of calories, relatively large amounts of protein, and little fat. It is high in iron and, depending on the coagulant used in manufacturing, may also be high in calcium and/or magnesium" (See Wikipedia)
official - approved by the government or some authority ที่เป็นทางการ
official start - the time when an event starts (with a ceremony, usually)
annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
festival - a series of events to celebrate a special day or week, often religious เทศกาล, วันเทศกาล, งานฉลอง,
Chinese ancestry - your parents, grandparents, etc are all Chinese
embark - start doing something, go on board a ship
ritual - a formal ceremony, a set of fixed actions performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony พิธีกรรม
abstaining - not doing something, not eating something
stimulate - encourage activity, growth, and development กระตุ้น (See glossary)
over-stimulate the senses - cause too much of a feeling: a strong taste, too hot, too light, too loud, etc
assume - to accept something to be true without question or proof
strictly - very careful and exact; completely อย่างเข้มงวด
strictly vegetarian diet - only eat vegetables, no fish
approach with caution - be careful
variety - one kind or many kinds of things ความหลากหลาย
adhered to - follow rules (like don't eat meat)
territory - land which is considered as belonging to or connected with a particular country or person ดินแดน
unknown territory - some subject or activity that people do not know about (have no knowledge about)
dietary restrictions - when you can't eat every food you want to eat
dietary restrictions give rise to a seemingly never-ending series of questions
doubts - when you think that something might not be true (that you believed before)
ingredients - foods that are used with other foods in the preparation of a particular dish ส่วนประกอบ
availability - they exist and people can get them
tempting - something that makes you want it (example: nice smelling food that makes you want to eat it, beautiful clothes that make you want to buy them)
treats - special delicious things to eat
availability of tempting vegetarian treats
stalls - large tables or small shops with an open front from which goods are sold in a public place แผงขายของ
practically every street - almost every street
stalls pop up along every street - many stalls appear along every street
stalls pop up along practically every street
takeaway food - food that you buy at a restaurant and then eat some other place (bring home, for example)
thinks it is fine to buy takeaway jay food
range - a number of different things that are of the same general type ขอบข่าย, ประเภท
mock meat - meat that looks like meat but is not meat, made from wheat gluten (See Wikipedia)
wheat gluten - a protein material in foods "processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture" (See Wikipedia)
sticky, protein-rich gluten
ersatz - not genuine, a poor imitation of something that is a lot better
ersatz meats - imitation meats (not nearly as good as the real thing)
per se - by itself only
not unhealthy per se - it is not always unhealthy, only sometimes, under certain conditions (the imitation meatballs are unhealthy)
source - the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
source of protein - food that your body can get protein from
imitation - fake, made to look like the real thing but not the real thing
imitation meatballs - meatballs that look real but are not
sausages - a prepared food made from ground meat, animal fat, salt, spices, and herbs packed in a tube-like casing, orignally used as a food preservation technique (See Wikipedia)
substance - based on accurate or true information มีมูล
bland - without taste (does not have much taste, unlike hot spicy food)
bland, rubbery substance
tuber - a root of a plant, the part of a plant underground (See Wikipedia)
perennial plant - a plant that lives for several years and has flowers each year (See Wikipedia)
tuber of a perennial plant
replace - to get rid of someone or something, and to put a new person or thing in its place เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
nutritional value - food that is good for your body
red flag - a warning, showing there may be danger ahead
textured - having a feeling of touch (can feel with tongue, for example)
allergic to soya beans - one type of "food allergy"
food allergy - "A protein in the food is the most common allergic component. These kinds of allergies occur when the body's immune system mistakenly identifies a protein as harmful. Some proteins or fragments of proteins are resistant to digestion and those that are not broken down in the digestive process are tagged by the Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These tags fool the immune system into thinking that the protein is harmful. The immune system, thinking the organism (the individual) is under attack, triggers an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from mild to severe. Allergic responses include dermatitis, gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, including such life-threatening anaphylactic responses as biphasic anaphylaxis and vasodilation; these require immediate emergency intervention. Non-food protein allergies include latex sensitivity. Individuals with protein allergies commonly avoid contact with the problematic protein. Some medications may prevent, minimize or treat protein allergy reactions" (See Wikipedia)
soya-bean - the bean that is one of the most important sources of protein (See Wikipedia)
rinsing - washing over with water
starch - the most common carbohydrate in the human diet and is contained in large amounts in such staple foods as potatoes, wheat, maize (corn), rice, and cassava. Pure starch is a white, tasteless and odorless powder that is insoluble in cold water or alcohol. It consists of two types of molecules: the linear and helical amylose and the branched amylopectin. Depending on the plant, starch generally contains 20 to 25% amylose and 75 to 80% amylopectin. Glycogen, the glucose store of animals, is a more branched version of amylopectin" (See Wikipedia)
dough - flour mixed with water and often yeast, fat or sugar so that it is ready for baking ส่วนผสมของแป้ง น้ำ และอื่นๆ เช่น ยีสต์, น้ำมัน, เนย, น้ำตาล (เพื่อนำไปอบขนมปัง)
processed - treated in some way, e.g., treated with chemicals, cut, etc.
convenience - the quality of being suitable for your purposes and needs and causing the least difficulty ความสะดวกสบาย
processed convenience food - junk food at 7-11: potatoe chips, cookies, cakes, candies, etc
protein - the chief actor among biological chemicals (enzymes, hormones), also used to build structure in the body (collagen, extracellular matrix) (See Wikipedia)
complete protein - "a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body" (See Wikipedia)
plant-based protein - proteins coming from plants (example: cellulose)
animal-based protein - proteins coming from animals (glycogen energy stores of the liver)
amino acid - "the building blocks of proteins, which are linear chains of amino acids. Amino acids can be linked together in varying sequences to form a vast variety of proteins. Twenty-two amino acids are naturally incorporated into polypeptides and are called proteinogenic or standard amino acids. Of these, 20 are encoded by the universal genetic code. Eight standard amino acids are called essential for humans because they cannot be created from other compounds by the human body, and so must be taken in as food" (See Wikipedia)
chains of different amino acids - same as "polypeptide chains"
polypeptide chains - the building blocks of proteins, "a single linear chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds. Protein molecules consist of one or more polypeptides put together typically in a biologically functional way and sometimes have non-peptide" (See Wikipedia)
methionone - an essential amino acid (See Wikipedia)
threonine - an essential amino acid (See Wikipedia)
tryptophan - an essential amino acid (See Wikipedia)
essential - necessary and important ที่จำเป็น ที่สำคัญ
essential amino acid - an amino acid that the body cannot make itself (See Wikipedia)
authorities - experts, people who know a lot about the subject
figure - a number, an amount จำนวน
authorities put the figure at eight - experts say there are 8 of them
adequate - enough to achieve goals; good enough or large enough for a particular purpose พอเพียง
lysine - an essential amino acid that the body cannot make itself, a chemical base, (See Wikipedia)
development - the gradual growth and formation of something
bone development - gradual growth of the bones (See Wikipedia)
calcium absorption - the process of calcium entering the body from the food we eat (See Wikipedia)
repair - to fix something that is broken or damaged ซ่อมบำรุง
tissue - the substance that animal and plant cells are made of เนื้อเยื้อ
repair of tissue - after injury or a wound the gradual healing of the wound and formation of scar tissue (See Wikipedia)
X limits Y - X prevents Y from getting bigger (from becoming larger than a certain size)
limiting amino acids
deficiency - not having enough of something (example: a vitamin deficiency)
dairy products - milk and foods made from milk such as butter, cream, and cheese
ensuring an adequate intake of protein - making sure that you eat enough protein
concern - a worry ความกังวล
nutrient - substances that help plants and animals grow
vitamin B12 - "a water soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production. As the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin," it is recommended that both vegetarians and people over 51 eat foods fortified with B12 or take B12 dietary supplements (See Wikipedia)
plant-based B12 - vitamin B12 from plants only
inadequate vitamin B12 intake - same as "vitamin B12 deficiency"
vitamin B12 deficiency - not getting enough B12 vitamin from the food you eat and the vitamins you take (which can lead to the disease pernicious anemia "an autoimmune disease that destroys parietal cells in the stomach that secrete intrinsic factor ... usually fatal within three years" (See Wikipedia)
10-day abstinence from meat - not eating meat for 10 days
risky - involving the possibility of danger, harm or failure เสี่ยงอันตราย
fermented - changed chemically through the action of living substances, such as yeast or bacteria หมัก
fermented soya products
maintain - to keep in good condition รักษา
optimum - the best possible
maintain optimum health - stay healthy, don't get sick
combination - the mixture you get when two or more things are combined การรวมกัน
combination of various foods - a mixture of different foods
nutrition - providing the materials necessary to your body so it can grow and be healthy, many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with good nutrition (See Wikipedia)
nutritionist - an expert about eating good foods (nutrition)
recommend - to advise someone that they should do something แนะนำ
benefits - goods things that can happen from anm activity ผลประโยชน์
health benefits - good things that can happen from being healthy (free of disease, full of energy, look good, etc)
preserved vegetables -
unreliable - not able to be trusted or believed ไม่น่าเชื่อถือ
reliable - (of things or people) able be trusted or believed because they work or behave well in the way you expect เชื่อถือได้, ไว้ใจได้
unreliable - cannot be trusted and believed; may not work
bought from unreliable sources - buy it from a seller who may give you something that doesn't work or is of low quality
hygienic - clean
unhygienic - not clean
contaminated (adjective) - made dirty, polluted or poisonous by the addition of a chemical, waste or infection
contaminants - chemicals that make something dirty or poisonous, and dangerous to eat
dented - a surface that is bent or hollow after being hit
swollen - when a part of your body becomes larger and rounder than normal after an injury
rusty - old metal things that have rust on them from exposure to fog or water (and are reddish-brown as a result)
frozen - when water turns to ice
canned - put in a can
exposed - not protected from something ได้รับ ได้สัมผัส (แดด หรือสารพิษ เป็นต้น)
exposed to high levels of heat - heated at high temperatures
anti-oxidants - a chemical molecule that prevents the oxidation of other molecules which causes injury to the body and aging (See Wikipedia)
dissolve - to be absorbed by a liquid, especially when mixed ละลาย
discard - throw away (don't keep or save for the future)
benefit - to get help or an advantage from something ผลประโยชน์
fibre - plant foods that can't be digested that has two main parts: "soluble (prebiotic, viscous) fibre that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and insoluble fibre that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it moves through the digestive system, easing defecation.... Advantages of consuming fibre are the production of healthful compounds during the fermentation of soluble fibre, and insoluble fibre's ability (via its passive hygroscopic properties) to increase bulk, soften stool, and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract" (See Wikipedia)
calcium - "a mineral that helps build stronger, denser bones early in life and keeps bones strong and healthy later in life. "Approximately 99 percent of the body's calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. The rest of the calcium in the body has other important uses, such as ... neurotransmitter release, and muscle contraction ... the electrical conduction system of the heart, ... Long-term calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and poor blood clotting and in case of a menopausal woman, it can lead to osteoporosis, in which the bone deteriorates and there is an increased risk of fracture ... Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are a well-known source of calcium" (See Wikipedia)
calcium-fortified soya milk - soya milk with calcium added to it (important for children with growing bones and teeth)