From the article:
Eating a vegan diet can be unhealthy if….
A vegetarian diet can be a healthy one if people avoid certain pitfalls, says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet and a blogger at food.usatoday.com. Here are some common mistakes vegetarians make:
•Eating usual meals minus meat. Just opting out of meat will lead to a diet low in protein, iron and zinc, Blatner says. So instead, you need to swap in plant proteins, such as beans and legumes, that can provide the essential nutrients and help keep hunger at bay, she says.
•No-veggie vegetarian. "This mistake is also known as the 'beige diet,' with a focus on dull-colored carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, rice." Each meal and snack should have colorful, disease-fighting produce to get optimal health benefits and to keep calories in check, she says.
•Faux-meat fixation. "You know you are guilty of this if you look in your fridge and see too many veggie burgers, 'chicken' nuggets and veggie lunchmeats," she says. These are fine in a pinch, but indulging regularly in these veggie conveniences results in too much processed food that is too high in sodium.
•Vegan health halo. The word "vegan" or "vegetarian" on a package is not a synonym for healthy, Blatner says. Even if a cookie, cake or fries are veggie-friendly, these are still junk foods that should be enjoyed in moderation, she says.
•Cheeseaholic. Some vegetarians rely only on cheese to get protein, eating foods such as cheese sandwiches, cheese on pasta and cheese and crackers for a snack, Blatner says. Overdoing it on cheese ends up being too high in calories and saturated fat, she says.
It is a myth that all vegetarians are healthy. It is actually quite easy to be vegetarian and eat unhealthy, if you do it the wrong way.
I admit to being guilty of doing the "no-veggie vegetarian" diet and "cheesaholic" when I first became a vegetarian 27 years ago. When I told people "I'm a vegetarian who doesn't eat vegetables", no one believed me. Many think that vegetarians only eat grass or other green things. But being a no-veggie vegetarian can really be done; by eating pasta, grains, tofu, faux-meats, and cheese / dairy items. Gradually I learned the importance of making it a healthy
vegetarian diet and have moved more towards being vegan. Now my protein, iron, triglycerides, blood pressure, and heart rate are at the best levels and better than most men half my age. (of course, individual results vary and my results do not necessarily extrapolate)