vegetarian

If you want to have a vegetarian diet but are unsure of how to do it, the following article may make your transition easier. Veggie burgers, pasta, rice and beans are among the most common foods prepared by vegetarian chefs around the world.  Below are some examples that will help you make sure you have enough protein, iron and calcium.

Protein

Many people believe that vegetarians have a hard time ‘getting their protein‘. Non-vegetarians often ask vegetarians ‘how are you going to get your protein?’. The belief that vegetarians will have a hard time consuming enough protein is unfounded. Vegetarians can easily meet their protein needs by eating a varied diet.

Good protein sources are: mushrooms, lentils, tofu, low-fat dairy products, nuts, hemp seeds, tempeh, peas. Many common foods such as whole grain bread, greens, potatoes, pasta, and corn also have protein. Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin. Oyster mushrooms are one of our favorite sources of protein because they contain up to 30% protein. Also, the protein in mushrooms contain all 9 essential amino acids.

Almost all foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats contain protein.

Iron

Iron is a mineral that helps our red blood cells deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.

Good vegetarian iron sources are: dried beans, mushrooms, spinach, chard, beet greens, blackstrap molasses, bulgur, prune juice, and dried fruit. Iron can also be found in enriched products, brewer’s yeast, and breakfast cereals that are fortified with iron.

To increase the amount of iron absorbed, eat plenty of foods containing vitamin C. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron. Cooking food in iron cookware (cast iron) also adds to iron intake. If you are more destined to get your vitamin C from supplements, consider liposomal vitamin C or vitamin C superfoods like Camu Camu or acerola cherries.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that plays an important role in the development and maintenance of bones.

Good vegetarian calcium sources are: spinach, collard greens, broccoli, kale, low fat dairy products, turnip greens, tofu prepared with calcium, and fortified soy milk.

Vitamin B12

The adult recommended intake for vitamin B12 is very low. Vitamin B12 comes primarily from animal-derived foods. But a diet that includes fortified foods, such as cereal, nutritional yeast, soy milk, or soy analogs, are good non-animal sources of B12. Taking a vitamin or a non-animal derived supplement of b12 is also an option.

Vitamin D

Vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin D. Vegans who don’t get much sunlight may need a supplement.

Zinc

Zinc is needed for growth and development. Good plant sources include grains, nuts and legumes.

Questions to ask your doctor before starting a vegetarian diet

  • Does a vegetarian eating plan fit with my other health goals?
  • Are there any restrictions that I should consider?
  • I still feel tired and sluggish after a week of eating this way.
    • What could be the problem?
  • How long should it take for me to feel better physically?
  • Will a vegetarian lifestyle help me lose weight?
    • How much weight loss is too much?
  • How long will it take for me to feel better mentally?