- People become vegetarians for many reasons. A well-planned vegetarian diet can provide all of the nutrients you need, as well as being enjoyable and interesting.
- An unplanned vegetarian diet, for example just leaving the meat out of your meal, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and impair sporting performance.
- Lean red meat is a great source of many nutrients including iron and zinc and is low in fat.
- Low-fat dairy products are a great source of calcium and other nutrients.
Nutritional considerations for vegetarians
- When you are vegetarian you need to consider the nutrients you are excluding from your diet and plan to get these from another source:
- Eat plenty of protein foods that make good red meat substitutions (eg: poultry, eggs, fish, milk, soy products, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, breads and cereals).
- Ensure you are getting enough iron from non-meat sources.
- If you are excluding dairy products from your diet ensure you are getting sufficient calcium. Remember that calcium from non-dairy sources is not as easily absorbed by the body.
Vegetarian meat substitutes
- Legumes – lentils, peas, beans
- Soy foods – soy beans, soy milk, soy yoghurt, tofu, tempeh
- Nuts – Brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts, almonds
- Seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin seeds
- Milk products – milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream