The Seventh-day Adventist Church encourages a balanced vegetarian diet. “The diet God ordained in the Garden of Eden—the vegetarian diet—is the ideal, but sometimes we cannot have the ideal. In those circumstances, in any given situation or locale, those who wish to stay in optimum health will eat the best food that they can obtain.”1
There are different types of vegetarian diets, including total (vegan; animal-free), lacto-ovo (the most widely-followed in the Adventist church), and pesco (vegetarian with a little fish added). For those who live where there is an abundance of fortified food products, a healthy, totally vegetarian diet may be the ideal with the following considerations:
• Choose ample whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and berries.
• Avoid replacing animal foods with refined, sweet, fatty commercial products, even if these are made from plant sources.
• Take a regular supplement of vitamin B12 (remember, deficiency symptoms may take 4-6 years to appear).
• Obtain adequate sunlight, emphasize high-calcium vegetables, and/or supplement your diet with calcium and Vitamin D.
• Consider the use of ground flax and or chia seeds or supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially during reproductive years.
• Assure adequate dietary zinc, especially for young and adolescent boys.
Remember: one diet does not necessarily fit all. The Seventh-day Adventist Church promotes the avoidance of flesh foods wherever possible. The best diet will vary, depending on factors such as geographic location, economics, specific health/medical conditions, knowledge, and food availability. The Adventist Church is a global church, and, as such, leaves the decisions regarding specific healthful diets to the choice of each member.
Let us heed the words of Paul: “. . . those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do . . . let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat” (Rom. 14:1-3).
The General Conference Nutrition Council is a global committee of nutrition professionals who are available to respond to the nutrition questions you or your constituents may have. We are currently updating our fact sheets and soon will have many topics available on the healthministries.com website.
1 Seventh-day Adventists Believe, 286.
Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD, FAND, is Associate Director of Health Ministries for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Used with permission from The Health Connection (GC Health Ministries Newsletter). Sign up to receive this free newsletter at: http://healthministries.com/newsletter.