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Healthy Eating


The food we choose to consume affects our overall health and energy levels, as well as our aesthetics.

Vegetarian diets are gaining popularity for multiple health and environmental reasons. If you are interested in adopting a vegetarian diet it is important to plan ahead for a wholesome variety.

Failing to do this may mean your dietary requirements go unmet resulting in negative impacts on your health. These include your hair and skin losing its shine and appearing lifeless and dull.

All diets should be varied and well balanced with a focus on whole foods. A whole food is one that is close to its natural state, it is the opposite of processed foods.

The consumption of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and a minimum of sugar and salt is always advised.

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A well designed vegetarian diet takes into account specific nutritional needs based on gender, age, activity level, allergies and general health. Often protein intake can be a concern for those without animal meat protein in their diet.

Here are some meat free alternatives which are high in protein and often included in a health vegetarian diet.


What’s on a Vegetarian Menu?

Please note that there is a great variety of non-processed protein sources available to a vegetarian diet. The following are offered as meat-substitutes.


Hummus is not a new food; recipes detailing were recorded by the Egyptians. It is a food-spread made from mashed chickpea’s combined with lemon, sesame seeds, garlic, and olive oil.

Why is it Popular?

Not only does Hummus taste delicious, its packed with nutritional goodness, it is affordable as well as easy to make at home. Nutritionally it provides a great source of dietary fibre, protein, B vitamins, Manganese and protein. It has a low Glycemic index score and is gluten free. Due to the olive oil and sesame it contains beneficial oils for hair and skin.


Seitan (say-tahn)

Seitan is a meat substitute sometimes referred to as ‘wheat meat’. It is made from extracted wheat protein called gluten. Seitan is almost pure protein.

Why is it Popular?

Seitan is often used to replace meat because when cooked it has a very similar in texture to meat. It is found in commercial veggie burgers and meat substitutes so many people have eaten and enjoyed Seitan without knowing its name. Seitan also easily absorbs the taste of the spices it is prepared with.

Note that Seitan is not suitable for those with gluten sensitivity.



Tofu is a soy product. Soybeans are soaked overnight, and then ground with water. Beans are then drained and coagulates are added to form curd. This curd is then pressed and called Tofu. Tofu comes in varying levels of firmness. Firmness is determined by how much water is left. Correspondingly, firmer tofu will have higher nutritional value as it contains less water.

Why is it Popular?

Tofu is an excellent source of soy protein. Due to its availability in various textures it can be used in a multitude of dishes. Tofu is easy to prepare and has a mild taste which is easily flavoured. It is a staple in Asian cuisine and most brands are gluten free.



Tempeh is a fermented soy product. Cooked soybeans are bound together by a culture of Rhizopus Mycellius and shaped into patties or cakes.

Why is it Popular?

Tempeh contains large amount of soy protein, minerals, and vitamins such as Niacin and Riboflavin. It has a unique and firm texture which makes it a great addition to meals especially stir-fry. It offers the additional health benefits to the gut by being a fermented food, easy to season, and gluten free.


Can a Vegetarian Diet Positively Affect Skin Health?

Yes, a vegetarian diet when done correctly increases your ingestion of healthy fibre, plant based easily absorbed nutrients, and healthy fats. Vitamins will benefit your skin’s ability to repair itself. Dietary fibre will aid in keeping regular and maintaining healthy digestion and elimination. Both of these positive contribute to healthy blemish free skin. Healthy fats contribute to the appearance of glossy hair and healthy nails and skin.

A 100% vegetarian diet might be difficult for some individuals and it is not required to receive the benefits of incorporating vegetarian eating habits into your diet.

If that describes you, consider participating in the international campaign Meatless Monday  whose goal is to promote health by having one meal a week which is meat free.

If you are interested in the health benefits of the different types of meat, click here for a dedicated article on said topic.


A Clear Complexion

If you desire more radiant and clear skin consider a holistic approach. Perhaps it’s time to incorporate some new vegetarian favourites onto your menu. If you would like to incorporate some non-surgical aesthetic touch-ups to your appearance, feel free to contact Dr Martina van der Mescht.

Connect with Dr Martina van der Mescht, 011 954 0070.

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