Nutrition advice for vegetarians and vegans is the same as for everyone else and breaks down to eating a reasonable amount and wide variety of wholesome foods.
A vegetarian diet is typically, but not always, more healthful than a meat-based diet. It’s not uncommon for young women to adopt a vegetarian diet that consists primarily of snack foods and diet soda. When I first became a vegetarian, I basically substituted cheese for meat which is not an improvement from a health standpoint.
As a vegetarian you should strive to include fresh produce in most of your meals. This can be a simple as a banana at breakfast, avocado and tomato on your lunch sandwich, and a salad or cooked vegetable at dinner time.
Choose whole grains over refined grains as much as possible. Use whole grain bread for toast and sandwiches, and select whole grain pasta and brown rice for meals.
Protein needs are not as high as many people think and most vegetarians get plenty of protein. Including some vegetable protein at most meals will not only ensure sufficient protein intake, but will also give your meals more staying power than a carb only dish. Add beans to rice dishes, include tofu in a stir fry, garnish salads with nuts, and spread nut butters on bread, crackers or sliced fruit.
Avoid fried foods, but include some healthy fat in your diet. Use olive oil in salad dressings, avocado on sandwiches, and nuts on salads or oatmeal.
Limit refined sugar whether it’s sugar in your coffee, a breakfast pastry or cookies. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit.
Incorporate vegetarian sources of minerals, especially zinc, iron and calcium in your diet. Nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, leafy green vegetables and beets nutritional powerhouses that will help you maintain healthy mineral intake.
Consider B12 supplements if you’re a vegan and have signs of B12 deficiency, such as fatigue, light-headedness or easy bruising or bleeding, tingling or numbness or disorientation. My early warning symptom is little cracks and soreness at the corners of my mouth. A few days of sublingual B12 supplements (available at TJ’s) takes care of it.
Visit our Low Calorie page for tips on how to eat well and lose or maintain your weight.