When you make the change from being a meat eater to a vegetarian, there are many gaps that you will have in your diet that you will need to fill with specific types of foods in order to ensure that your body is getting all of the nutrients that it needs. In this article, we’ll explain some of the nutrients that you have gotten from meat in the past and some vegetarian foods that can help to fill the void.
Iron is one nutrient that you probably got from meat. Female vegetarians need to take special care to ensure that they get enough iron, as the menstrual cycle can deplete their body’s iron supply. Some vegetables that you may want to start eating in order to keep your iron levels healthy include fortified cereals, which contain many nutrients that the body needs. Dried fruits such as raisins and figs can also be a significant source of iron for the vegetarian, and iron supplements are available if you cannot meet the need elsewhere. Coincidentally, many vegetarians tend to eat lots of fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C which helps the body to absorb iron, making things easier for the vegetarian.
Calcium can be another tough nutrient to obtain, especially if you are following the vegan lifestyle. Dairy products contain plenty of calcium, but vegans need to look elsewhere for their calcium. Some options that vegetarians often employ in order to get their daily requirements of calcium include tofu and soy milk. Also, it’s often easy to find orange juice that is fortified with calcium. Leafy green vegetables can also help a vegan to fulfill their daily needs. This nutrient is particularly important for teen vegans to get, as their bodies are still growing and need a lot of calcium to do so. Supplements are also available for calcium if you can’t meet your needs elsewhere.
Protein is another significant nutrient that you will need to ensure that you get enough of. Most of the protein in an average American’s diet comes from meat, so in order to meet your needs as a vegetarian you will have to ensure that you are getting enough of the key nutrient. Seeds and nuts contain plenty of protein, so you may want to ensure that you include them in your diet. Cereals can contain significant levels of protein as well, and some vegetables such as potatoes contain protein as well.
Zinc is another mineral that we often get from meat sources, and in order to get enough of it as a vegetarian, you may want to ensure that tofu and dried beans and nuts are in your diet.
When it comes to developing a diet as a vegetarian, you may want to visit a dietitian so that you can find foods that you enjoy that contain all of the nutrients that you need with no outside help from animal sources. After you get a good diet developed, you will find that it is easy to maintain your nutritional needs without eating meat.