People who want to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet often worry if their body will get enough nutrition to remain healthy through plant-based food. It’s entirely possible to have a well-balanced and nutritious diet without consuming meat. There are millions of people who have never eaten any form of meat in their life and are still healthy. It’s all a matter of planning your meals well and adding some variety to your diet. Here’s some nutritional advice from a vegetarian to ensure you get a balanced nutrition from your plant-based diet.
- Focus on protein first
Meat is one of the primary sources of protein for humans but that doesn’t mean you can’t get adequate amount of protein from a vegetarian diet as well. The best sources are nuts, lentils, beans, peas, and soy products. You can also get protein from dairy food like milk and yogurt. You can incorporate these items into your daily diet in order to get the right amount of protein.
- Calcium is essential
The next nutrient you should focus on is calcium as they strengthen the bones and teeth. The best sources of this nutrient are dairy products and most vegetarians consume these on a daily basis. You can also find good amount of calcium and leafy green vegetables like turnips, collard, bok choy, mustard greens, etc. Most dark leafy vegetables will have this nutrient. You can also consume natural orange juice to get a good supply of calcium, just squeeze the juice from oranges and be mindful of all the sugar you add. Store-brought orange juices aren’t a good alternative.
- Vitamin B12
This nutrient is usually found in meat and other animal based products and can’t be found in most vegetarian options. The best way to work around it is to consume B12 fortified items like cereals and soy milk. That should be enough to ensure you have enough B12 in your body to remain healthy. Check all the nutritional facts list to determine if the items you purchased have been fortified with vitamin B12.
- Vitamin D
If you spend some time in the sunlight daily and add some vitamin D fortified food items to your daily diet, you won’t have to worry about lack of this nutrient in your body. Eggs are also a good source of vitamin D and many vegetarians are willing to include this item in their diet.
- Essential fats
The omega fats are commonly found in meat-based food items but there are vegetarian versions available. You can include nuts and seeds in your diet as they’re usually a rich source of essential fats. These include walnut, almonds, hemp, linseed, flaxseed, rapeseed, etc. If you consume these items daily, you’ll have enough essential fats in your diet to be healthy.
Vegetarian diet can be just as versatile, delicious, and interesting as a meat based diet. You can find a vegetarian version of many of your favorite food items and dishes. For example, you can easily make a vegetarian pasta dish so you don’t have to eat bland meals.