Can you have a healthy body on a vegetarian diet?

vegetarian diet

Can vegetarians achieve health success?

Well, the short answer is yes. Those on a vegetarian diet can certainly have a healthy body, but by excluding certain food sources from their vegetarian diet they have to add other sources to get all the nutrients they need. There are several different classification of vegetarian diet. The first is semi-vegetarian diets which excludes the consumption of red meat. A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet excludes all meat but continues to consume egg and dairy products. A lacto vegetarian diet does not consume meat or eggs but will consume dairy products. A ovo-vegetarian diet excludes all meat and dairy products but an ovo-vegetarian will continue to consume eggs. Finally, a vegan diet, the strictest of all the vegetarians will consume no meat, dairy, or egg products.

Maintaining the right balance of vitamins and nutrients

If you chose to maintain a vegetarian diet, you have to be careful to include alternative sources of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, protein, iron, fat, carbohydrates and zinc. Vitamin B12 can be found in eggs and dairy products but the strict vegan has to get it through products that have been vitamin fortified like cereals and breads. B12 can also be found in soya milk, animal-free margarines, and marmite. Unfortunately this particular vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products such as cheese, milk, and eggs. The best way for a strict vegetarian to get enough of this particular vitamin would be to take a daily supplement. Vitamin D can be found in milk but you can also get it through vitamin fortified cereals, soya milk and juices. The sun is also a great provider of Vitamin D, so getting outside in the fresh air will help a great deal. Calcium can of course be found in dairy products but can also be found in green leafy vegetables, dried beans, broccoli, orange, blackcurrants, soy and rice drinks, and foods that have been fortified with calcium like juices and cereals.

Importance of protein

Protein is also found in eggs and dairy products but can be found in dried beans, nuts, and soy products. Tofu is also a good source of protein. Iron can be found in foods like dried beans and fruits, leafy green vegetables like spinach, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, prunes, dates, millet, and fortified cereals and breads. Iron is best absorbed with sufficient amounts of vitamin C so a variety of citrus fruits can be included in the vegetarian diet. Vegetarians need to be careful to include alternative sources of fat in their diets like nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils. Carbohydrates are necessary for energy so a diet filled with whole grains is a good idea for a vegetarian. Zinc can be found in fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds.

Being a vegetarian can be a very healthy lifestyle choice for some. Vegetarians just need to pay special attention to the foods that they do eat to make sure they are getting the nutrients that meat and meat products provide in a non-vegetarian diet. If you cannot find enough food sources that you enjoy adding supplements and vitamins to your daily routine would be another alternative. Talking to your doctor or nutritional therapist about switching to a vegetarian diet would also be a very good idea.

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