[Amanda Griffin Jacob, one of 16 Filipino nominees for PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity, with 7-month old son Kalon.]

MANILA, JUNE 10, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Dexter Rodrigo Matilla - Amanda Griffin Jacob, proud mother of two boys Kieran (3 years old) and Kalon (7 months old), splits her time between Manila and Hong Kong, is currently busy shooting season 2 of her TV show “Amanda, Living Life” with a premiere on June 19th in the Lifestyle Network, and maintains the popular website for mothers

With such a busy schedule, you’d think she gets her energy from eating from every food variety. The truth is, since 2007, Amanda has made the lifestyle choice of becoming a vegetarian.

Amanda says that she is the veggie pioneer in their family and she shares that as soon as she started, she started feeling much better physically.

“When I was eating meat I had a lot of digestive issues,” Amanda says. “Mentally, I felt wonderful. I had wanted to become a vegetarian since I was in high school but never thought I would be able to live without meat.”

She, along with 15 other Filipinos, has been nominated in PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) search for the Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity.

Amanda joins a list that includes Bill Clinton, Michelle Yeoh, Joaquin Phoenix, Anne Hathaway, Zhang Ziyi, and Mike Tyson.

Other Filipinos in the list are Cynthia Alexander, Raymond Bagatsing, Lougee Basabas, Geneva Cruz, Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Yasmien Kurdi, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, Raya Mananquil, Alicia Mayer, Rocco Nacino, Juliana Palermo, Isabel Roces, Nityalila Saulo, Sandra Seifert, and Julia Sniegowski.

“It is really,really cool to be in a group like that,” Amanda says. “The most impressive vegan for me is Bill Clinton. I always think if he could go veggie then anyone can.”

But Amanda is quick to add that being a vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll immediately be sexy.

“You can be vegetarian and be unhealthy,” she says. “Vegetarianism should be a lifestyle choice rather than a quick fix diet.”

Her message for those who want to do just that?

“Do it. It’s not as hard as you think. Your mind, body and planet will thank you for it.”

You can vote for the Filipino nominees here:


Nutrition and healthy eating

Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition

A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs. Find out what you need to know about a plant-based diet. By Mayo Clinic staff A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them.

Types of vegetarian diets

When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn't include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude: Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included. Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs. Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs. Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.

Some people follow a semivegetarian diet — also called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.

Vegetarian diet pyramid

A healthy diet takes planning, and a food pyramid can be a helpful tool. The vegetarian pyramid outlines food groups and food choices that, if eaten in the right quantities, form the foundation of a healthy vegetarian diet.

Getting adequate nutrition

The key to a healthy vegetarian diet — like any diet — is to enjoy a variety of foods. No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs. The more restrictive your diet is, the more challenging it can be to get all the nutrients you need.

A vegan diet, for example, eliminates natural food sources of vitamin B-12, as well as milk products, which are good sources of calcium.

With a little planning, however, you can be sure that your diet includes everything your body needs.

Pay special attention to the following nutrients: Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. Milk and dairy foods are highest in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and fortified products, including juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu, are other options.

Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism, growth and function of key organs. Vegans may not get enough iodine and be at risk of deficiency and possibly even a goiter.

In addition, foods such as soybeans, cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes may promote a goiter. However, just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt provides a significant amount of iodine.

Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are good sources of iron. Because iron isn't as easily absorbed from plant sources, the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians is almost double that recommended for non-vegetarians.

To help your body absorb iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, at the same time as you're eating iron-containing foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. Diets that do not include fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids.

Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans are good sources of essential fatty acids. However, because conversion of plant-based omega-3 to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider fortified products or supplements, or both. Protein helps maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are good sources, and you don't need to eat large amounts to meet your protein needs. You can also get sufficient protein from plant-based foods if you eat a variety of them throughout the day.

Plant sources include soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask deficiency in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it's important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health. Vitamin D is added to cow's milk, some brands of soy and rice milk, and some cereals and margarines. Be sure to check food labels. If you don't eat enough fortified foods and have limited sun exposure, you may need a vitamin D supplement (one derived from plants).

Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in formation of proteins. Like iron, zinc is not as easily absorbed from plant sources as it is from animal products. Cheese is a good option if you eat dairy products. Plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.

If you need help creating a vegetarian diet that's right for you, talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian.

Getting started

If you're not following a vegetarian diet but you're thinking of trying it, here are some ideas to help you get started:

Ramp up: Each week increase the number of meatless meals you already enjoy, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce or vegetable stir-fry.

Learn to substitute: Take favorite recipes and try them without meat. For example, make vegetarian chili by leaving out the ground beef and adding an extra can of black beans. Or make fajitas using extra-firm tofu rather than chicken. You may be surprised to find that many dishes require only simple substitutions.

Branch out: Scan the Internet for vegetarian menus. Buy or borrow vegetarian cookbooks. Check out ethnic restaurants to sample new vegetarian cuisines. The more variety you bring to your vegetarian diet, the more likely you'll be to meet all your nutritional needs.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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