If you are a vegetarian or are considering a meatless diet, there are several nutritional tips you should follow. You can meet the nutritional guidelines and still be a vegetarian. The key is to consume a variety of foods and make a plan. It is essential that people get the nutrients a body needs to function properly. Vegetarians run the risk of being deficient in the following sources of nutrition:
Protein: Taking the meat out of a diet means getting rid of a lot of protein. Protein is essential for healthy skin, bones, muscles, and organs. Vegetarians can replace the loss of meat protein with eggs and dairy. Vegetarians and Vegans can eat soy, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains to replace the protein in their diet. It is not a good idea to substitute meat protein with tons of high fat cheeses.
Calcium: This is necessary for strong teeth and bones. You can get calcium from low fat dairy products. Calcium is also found in dark green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli. You can find calcium fortified tofu, fortified soy milk and in fruit juices.
Vitamin B12: This vitamin produces red blood cells and helps to prevent anemia. Vitamin B12 is found in milk, eggs and cheese. If you are Vegan, you will need a supplement.
Iron: This mineral is useful in the development of red blood cells. Some terrific sources of iron are found in beans, peas, lentils, cereal, whole grain, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit. It is necessary to assist the absorption of non animal sources of iron by combining these foods with food containing vitamin C. Good examples of foods with vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruit, tomatoes, and cabbage. These must be eaten together with the high sources of iron.
Zinc: This mineral is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in the formation of proteins. You can get zinc by eating whole grains, soy, nuts, and wheat germ.
In addition to being certain you are not deficient in any of the above mentioned nutrients, you also have to pay attention to the amounts of different foods you intake. For example, you should eat eggs and sweets weekly. You should eat nuts and seeds, egg whites, soy and dairy, and plant oils daily. Finally, you should eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans with every meal. If you follow these guidelines, you should be a very healthy vegetarian.