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I am a Vegetarian - How can I ensure I am getting adequate nutrition

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A vegetarian diet focuses on plants for food. These include fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts. There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups:
  • The vegan diet, which excludes all meat and animal products
  • The lacto vegetarian diet, which includes plant foods plus dairy products
  • The lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes both dairy products and eggs
     
    People who follow vegetarian diets can get all the nutrients they need. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs. Follow the food group recommendations for your age, sex, and activity level to get the right amount of food and the variety of foods needed for nutrient adequacy.
     

    Nutrients vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.

    United States Department of Agriculture
     
  • Protein has many important functions in the body and is essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods. Combining different protein sources in the same meal is not necessary. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.
  • Iron functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the blood. Iron sources for vegetarians include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).
  • Calcium is used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone strength. Sources of calcium for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, soy products (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok-choy, mustard greens). Milk products are excellent calcium sources for lacto vegetarians.
  • Zinc is necessary for many biochemical reactions and also helps the immune system function properly. Sources of zinc for vegetarians include many types of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Milk products are a zinc source for lacto vegetarians.
  • Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and some fortified foods. Sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians include milk products, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include breakfast cereals, soy-based beverages, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast.
     
    Tips for Vegetarians
  • Build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and rice. Don't overload meals with high-fat cheeses to replace the meat.
  • Calcium-fortified soy-based beverages can provide calcium in amounts similar to milk. They are usually low in fat and do not contain cholesterol.
  • Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
       
    Consider:
     
  • Pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
  • Veggie pizza (Home made)
  • Vegetable lasagna
  • Tofu-vegetable stir fry
  • Vegetable lo mein
  • Vegetable kabobs
  • Bean burritos or tacos
  • A variety of vegetarian products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.
  • For breakfast, try soy-based patties.
  • Rather than hamburgers, try veggie burgers. (Home made) A variety of kinds are available, made with soy beans, vegetables, and/or rice. (Not fried aloo tikki's)
  • Add vegetarian meat substitutes to soups and stews to boost protein without adding saturated fat or cholesterol. These include tempeh (cultured soybeans with a chewy texture), tofu, or wheat gluten (seitan).
  • For barbecues, try veggie or garden burgers, marinated tofu or tempeh, and veggie kabobs.
  • Make bean burgers, lentil burgers, or pita halves with falafel (spicy ground chick pea patties).
  • Some restaurants offer soy options (texturized vegetable protein) as a substitute for meat, and soy cheese as a substitute for regular cheese.
  • Most restaurants can accommodate vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat from stir-fries, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order.
  • Most Asian and Indian restaurants offer a varied selection of vegetarian dishes.
     
    Look up vegetarian recipes under our recipes tab for suggestions.
    Source: http://www.mypyramid.gov/tips_resources/vegetarian_diets.html
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