Vegetarian Nutrition

Vegetarian Nutrition Becoming a vegetarian doesn’t have to be nutrition-sucking and can even have many health benefits but only if you do it right. It is best to eat right and not dine on junk food 24/7. Alright, maybe most people don’t eat it 24/7, but if there is a ton of junk food in one’s diet, even if they aren’t vegetarian, they will probably not be getting the nutrition they need. That is why it is important to eat a balanced, nutrient-abundant diet full of tasty (yes, healthy can be tasty) fruits, vegetables, and grains. The American Dietetic says on their site, “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

Types of Vegetarianism

First, we need to know exactly what makes a person a vegetarian. Some vegetarians not only cut meat out of their diet, but also other animal products such as dairy, eggs, and sometimes even leather, fur, etc. Some more specific terms of vegetarianism include:

The strict vegetarian AKA the vegan- Vegans do not consume any animals products at all and often, but not always, don’t wear any animal products. This includes dairy, eggs, honey and anything else food-related, and some even don’t wear silk, leather, fur, etc., though this is not a requirement to be a vegan.

The lacto-ovo vegetarian - Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not consume meat*, but they can eat eggs, dairy, and other non-meat animal products.

The lacto-vegetarian- They do not eat meat* or eggs but still consume dairy.

Pescetarian- Many people do not even consider pescetarians vegetarian, because they eat fish but do not consume other types of meat*.

*Meat includes beef, poultry, fish, and everything else dead and has been born.

Most people who are skeptical of the benefits of vegetarianism do not believe one can obtain enough protein from vegetable sources. However, they may be wrong. Aside from meats, protein can be found in abundant amounts in nuts, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy products (unless you’re vegan, of course,) seeds, tempeh, soy, eggs (again, not if you’re a vegan,) peas, and chickpeas. Protein from vegetables contains the same amino acids as protein from meat sources

Iron can cause many problems for vegetarians, because without meat, it is hard for some people to consume enough iron. However, there is still much more hope than you can ever imagine. Iron can be found abundantly in cereals and oatmeals (some contain 20-50% the Daily Value of iron,) prune juice, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens such as romaine lettuce and broccoli, bread, sea vegetables, beets, potatoes, black eye beans, navy beans, and much more. Consuming loads of Vitamin C will also help your body absorb iron much easier. Vitamin C-rich foods include, oranges, tomatoes, certain fruit juices, guavas, strawberries, lemons, clemetines, bell peppers (red ones are best,) broccoli, and many more.

Vitamin B-12
Vegans have to worry more about B12 than vegetarians, because B12 is mostly found in animal products. However, vegetarians don’t eat meat, so of course they’ll be getting less of it. Many cereals and soymilks are enriched with animal-free B12, so it may not be as hard as you think to give up animal products. The human body can store B12 for years but will eventually run out of it.

Vegetarians don’t have to worry half as much about calcium, unless they also cut dairy out of their diet. Many soymilks are calcium-enriched. Calcium is also found in dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.,) beans, dried figs, and sunflowers.

Personal Benefits of Vegetarianism
Some health benefits of a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet can include:
- Better immunity against sickness
- Lower risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, mortality, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, impotence and much more
- Less menopausal symptoms
- May boost your confidence, because you aren’t eating dead animals
- Much more

Can Nutritional Actually be Tasty?
Of course it can, as long as you can actually find tasty, nutritional foods. Vegetarians can enjoy faux meat, such as Garden burgers (some meat-eaters even prefer these,) Smart Deli, Boca burgers, Morningstar brand (chicken nuggets, bacon, and more!) and even some healthier, home-made recipes found on the Internet and in vegetarian cookbooks! Many fake meats taste identical to real meat, though some are off a bit. These fake meats often have high amounts of protein and iron. Many of these fake meats contain tons of sodium, however, so you mustn’t over-indulge.

There are many tasty and nutritious cereals on the market that are safe for vegetarians, too. One example is Special K’s cinnamon pecan cereal. Nutrition facts of this specific cereal are as follows:

Serving Size: ¾ cup of Special K cinnamon pecan cereal not including milk
Calories: 120
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 180mg
Potassium 60mg
Total Carbohydrate 25g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Sugars 7g
Protein 2g

Vitamins (based on a 2000-calories diet:
Vitamin A15%
Vitamin C35%
Iron 45%
Vitamin D 10%
Thiamin (B1) 35%
Riboflavin (B2) 35%
Niacin (B3) 35%
Vitamin B6 35%
Folic Acid (Folate) 35%
Vitamin B12 35%

Symptoms of Deficiency

Like a poor meat-based diet, poorly planned vegetarian diets can result in nutrition deficiencies, so it is important for both meat-eaters and vegetarians to know the symptoms of nutrient deficiency. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

Anemia Caused by Iron Deficiency:
- Tired all the time
- Hunger for strange objects such as paper, ice, or dirt
- Upward curve of the nails
- Soreness of the mouth
- Cracks at the corners of the mouth

Anemia Caused by B12 Deficiency:
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Hallucinations
- Clumsiness
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of sense of touch

Protein deficiency:
- Growth failure
- Loss of muscle mass
- Decreased immunity
- Weakening of the heart and respiratory system
- Hair-loss
- Skin issues

Calcium deficiency:
- Muscle cramping
- Pounding heartbeat
- Loss of sleep
- Tooth decay
- Irritability
- Brittle bones
- Hot flashes
- Osteoporosis
- Scoliosis
- Arthritis
- Depression

If you experience these symptoms, seek a doctor ASAP. Untreated deficiencies can result in permanent damage and eventually even death if left untreated for too long. However, one should not be afraid of becoming a vegetarian just because of the myth that vegetarians cannot consume enough vitamins. It is very possible for you to get enough nutrients even if you’re a complete vegan. If you experience any symptoms, and you do not have a deficiency (you must get this checked out by a doctor) you probably have another health problem.

Restaurant Vegetarian Foods
Most restaurants at least have some sort of vegetarian option on the menu. Some restaurants offer delicious veggie burgers while others just offer salads. It is best to see a menu before you decide to eat at the particular restaurant. That way, you can see if it has any vegetarian options. Burger King, Denny’s, Subway, Johnny Rocket’s, and many more restaurants offer vegetarian options. However, do not be tricked into thinking that all fries are vegetarian. Some are cooked in the same oils that the meat at the restaurant are cooked in. Also, McDonald’s fries are made with beef extract inside of the fries. McDonald’s offers no vegetarian options at the moment.

Fries aren’t so healthy, anyway, even for a meat-eater. Junk-food takes the place of nutritional food, and even meat-eaters may become deficient in key nutrients if the meat-eater over-indulges in junk food.

Sources and more helpful info: - protein

Vegetarian Starter Kits: - PDF file

More helpful info not included in the sources:

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