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occ's avatar

What are some nutrition tips for a vegetarian diet?

Asked by occ (4005 points ) April 8th, 2007
I was raised vegetarian (hippy parents) and have never eaten meat. I eat eggs and dairy but no meat, poultry, or fish. I have good eating habits and eat a lot of whole grains, beans, eggs, dairy, fruits, and green leafy veggies. I'm wondering if there are any nutrients that I'm still not getting, i.e. vitamins or compounds that are only found in meat, poultry, or fish. I feel generally healthy and reasonably energetic but since I've never eaten meat I have nothing to compare it to. Is there a supplement I should take?
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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar
For the most informative and well-researched book on the subject, try Dr. Joel Fuhrman's EAT TO LIVE. His approach is draconion, since he thngs dairy products are unnecessary. But there is a wealth of info. Some issues about vitamin supplements are, however, both age and gender related. Bone loss and density, menopause, exercise....etc.
lilakess's avatar
I think there is some amino acid found in red meat (maybe connected to B-12) that you can't get anywhere else, but I'm not sure this is still the current thinking on this matter. There must be somewhere else you can get it (aka B-12). I'd look for something recent info too.
andrew's avatar
IANAD, and I think there was another question on here about b-12, but my vegan ex-girlfriend used to take b-12 because it is only found in animal products (liver adn whatnot). If you take a multi and make sure you get your complete proteins, you'll be fine.
emilyrose's avatar
i would also take an omega 3. many are made with fish oil but i think the benefits outweigh feeling guilty about eating a fish product. plus if you get the right kind they are made from fish that have less mercury, another worry...ho hum... i take some that are specially formulated for "emotional balance" and i feel worlds different, really. ask me if you want more info about them! luv e
darwinsbulldog's avatar
If you're looking for fish with less mercury, eat lower on the food chain. Big predators like tuna, swordfish, and halibut accumulate more mercury. They're also not very sustainable. Lovely but much-maligned sardines and anchovies have lots of omega 3s, plus lots of calcium since we eat their bones, and way less mercury.
anoop's avatar

I’ve been vegetarian for 15 years. The most important is whole grains and lots of dark greens for optimal energy and a general sense of well being. (Dark leafy greens are good for the brain) Do not eat any trans-fats and limit your intake of saturated fats otherwise you will feel sluggish. For a complete protein, combine any cereal (e.g. rice, wheat, barley, corn, etc) with a legume (anything that grows in a pod, e.g, beans, peanuts, sprouts, etc.) plus a green vegetable. Easy: cereal+legume+green vegetable = complete protein. It’s also good to supplement your diet with the occasional free-range egg.

beccause's avatar

I highly recommend “Spiritual Nutrition” by Dr. Gabriel Cousens. While it’s focus is raw, you don’t have to go raw, but you will get most of your nutrients from the raw foods you eat. E3 live is a great supplement but you really need to consult an ND to see what you might be lacking and the best ways to get those nutrients. If you are severly lacking something, they can do infusions for you as well.

jacksonRice's avatar

omega fatty acids…? only available in fish oil. maybe consider taking supplements?

chatnoir's avatar

I’m 60 and have been a vegetarian for only 5 years and have never felt better. I don’t make a big production out of it, but will always make a choice for some protein – an egg here and there and always nuts – along with whatever fruits, grains, legumes, vegetables that I eat. It’s pretty easy to do. I grow my own organic garden, which also, is not that difficult, as long as you accept that you share some of the garden with the critters…not so bad. I highly recommend it. I bicycle ride 4–5 times a week and feel great. Wish I had made this choice years ago.

cyndyh's avatar

I was vegetarian for more than a decade. My son was vegan for a while and that was much much harder to maintain and cook for. If you have dairy and eggs in your diet at all, you don’t really have to worry about supplements. I’m not a doctor. This is just what I learned from tracking my own diet.

You’re probably already getting the B-12 that most people worry about vegans not getting. You can get plenty of Omega3 from walnuts, flax seed, and things like that. I remember those two because they’re foods that I like.

Futomara's avatar

Eat plenty of animal protein.

Zajvhal's avatar

If you’re feeling good, and not having any health issues, you’re probably doing everything right and shouldn’t worry too much about it! The Omega’s you can get from Flax Seed Oil if you are concerned. You can also get a lot of nutritional levels tested by a doctor to see if there’s anything you’re deficient in.

Kardamom's avatar

You will want to make sure that you get omega-3 fatty acid, which you can easily get in a vegetarian version with ground flax meal and/or flax oil. Most nuts have omega-3 fatty acids, but flax is the best and easiest way to get enough.

You should also make sure you are getting your B vitamins, especially B-12. Most versions of B-12 are animal derived, but you can get vegetarian supplements that are derived from seawead and algae. Here’s a link from Vegetarian Times that explains this in detail: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/features/551

And you might want to get a physical with your doctor and get blood work done. I just found out that I have a Vitamin D deficiency, which came as a shock to me, because I drink milk fortified with Vitamin D and take a calcium supplement with Vitamin D. My doctor said that because I regularly use sunscreen and cover myself from head to toe and wear a hat when I go outdoors (I’m fair skinned and skin cancer is common in my family and we live in a sunshine state) that I wasn’t getting enough. He also said that the tablet form, is often not very absorbable. So I found a liquid, vegetarian version of Vitamin D.

2 good sources for this type information and other info that’s helpful to vegetarians are Vegetarian Times: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/ and Prevention: http://www.prevention.com/health/

Good luck : )

laura_b's avatar

Eat lots of beans, some nuts, some seeds, and lots of greens. Other fruits and vegetables are good too. Raw salads are highly recommended. Beans, nuts, seeds, and greens provide excellent amounts of essential nutrients. Spirulina and chlorella is also very beneficial, but it’s microalgae. Some vegetarians don’t consume microalgae. Get your vitamin D by getting adequate sunshine. Also drink lots of pure water (not distilled).

jimhawker's avatar

Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Consider:
Pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
Veggie pizza
Vegetable lasagna
Tofu-vegetable stir fry
Vegetable lo Mein
Vegetable kabobs
Bean burritos or tacos

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