Whatever your reasons for deciding to become vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to make sure you are getting sufficient nutrients from your diet. This includes ensuring you get enough protein, calcium and vitamins and minerals.
Like any healthy diet, vegetarian and vegan diets should include a variety of foods including lots of fruit and vegetables, some starchy foods such as potatoes, wholemeal pasta and rice, cereals and bread, and some sources of protein and calcium. A balanced diet can also include a small amount of foods that are high in sugar or fat.
As you won’t be getting protein from meat or fish, you need to ensure you get enough protein from other sources.
Vegetarians can also eat eggs, which are rich in protein.
Some vegetarians and vegans are also low on iron, so make sure you increase your intake of the following iron-rich foods such as:
Eggs also contain iron, so are suitable for vegetables, although not vegans.
Also look out for fortified cereals, some of which have added iron.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in meat and fish. Good sources of Vitamin B12 that don’t come from meat are:
If you are vegan, up your intake of the last three on the list. If you don’t eat enough Vitamin B12, you run the risk of becoming anaemic.
While ‘good fats’ are found naturally in vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods such as avocadoes and nuts, some of the best ‘good fats’ come from oily fish, which is high in Omega-3.
Although you may not get as much Omega-3 from the following foods as you would from oily fish, you can up your intake of Omega-3 by eating the following: