Meatless Monday: dietary requirements

It’s only been 9 months since I stopped eating meat, so I am still learning and experimenting with my diet. As October is Vegetarian month, I thought it the perfect time to discuss this on the blog. Follow along every Monday while I gather more information, try new recipes and more!

Vegetarianism takes planning

While there are certainly many benefits to a meatless diet, there are also certain aspects to take into consideration (like meeting all my nutrient and energy needs). Lucky for me, I work in an office full of Dietitians. Lucky for you, I’m willing to share!

I started out by asking Dena Ferretti, RD what nutrients to be aware of. First she notes,

Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume some animal products (eggs and dairy), so the risk of a vitamin or mineral deficiency is lower. However for individuals who choose a vegan lifestyle, they are more at risk of being deficient in Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium, Vit D and Zinc, and without careful planning Vegans can be deficient in the essential amino acids that come from proteins.

Here’s how you can better meet those dietary requirements:

Vitamin B12: consume fortified products such as soy or nut milks, breakfast cereals, or Red Star nutritional yeast (not all nutritional yeasts are fortified).

Iron: There are two forms of iron- heme which is found in animal sources and non-heme found in plant-based sources— legumes, nuts and seeds, whole-grain breads, dark green vegetables, blackstrap molasses and dried fruits. In order for the body to utilize non-heme iron, pair these foods with vitamin c rich foods.

Calcium: If you’re vegetarian, consume milk, yogurt and cheese. If you’re vegan, try calcium-set tofu, calcium-fortified soy or nut beverages, calcium-fortified orange juice, Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli.

Vitamin D: There are very few dietary sources of vitamin D. If you don’t use margarine or milk in your diet, Dena highly recommends taking a supplement.

Zinc: While plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts and seeds, are incomplete (meaning they don’t contain all 9 essential amino acids); pairing them with grains and other plant sources will form a complete protein. For example: beans and rice, hummus and pita, quinoa with chopped almonds, etc.

October 3, 2011
Revive Wellness