I’m going to a vegetarian or white meat only diet, what are the important things to know about maintaining nutrition and health?
Vegetarian diets can be very healthy, sustainable and tasty. When starting to eat less meat, it is important to take extra care to include alternative sources of the nutrients that it had provided to you in the past. Animal based foods typically supply much of the protein, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B12 in an American omnivore’s diet. If you are planning to include egg and milk products in your diet (lacto-ovo vegetarian) your nutrition concerns will be pretty similar to those of meat eaters because these animal products will contain many of the same nutrients as meat. If you’re eating little or no animal foods, then additional attention to your daily consumption will be necessary to assure you get what your body needs.
Variety is the key to maintaining a healthful vegetarian diet and ensuring you eat all of these key nutrients. Including vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and fruits is a good start. Try vegetarian selections at local restaurants & delis and explore vegetarian recipes online. Eating mostly whole foods (e.g., whole grains and fruit) rather than highly processed ones (e.g., white flour and sugar) will insure that you get the most nutrients from your food. Before you make a major diet change, I suggest that you consult a dietitian and/or spend some time reading about nutrition and vegetarian diets. Finding out more about the amounts of specific foods you’ll need and the possible need for supplements will help you prevent inadequacies in your diet. The Vegetarian Resource Group website can be a good starting point.
-The Health Nuts