Being a vegetarian can be an arduous task for a number of reasons. Vegetarians may find their options limited on certain menus while dining out, they’re in a very small group of other like-minded (non-meat eaters) individuals, and probably the biggest issue is that they have to work overtime to get the same nutrients that meat eaters get in one meal.
Things like protein, iron, and riboflavin among others, all come prepackaged into meat sources. Vegetarians on the other hand have to make their way through a variety of items to get the same nourishment as someone who just had a buffalo burger. If you’re a vegetarian, or just want to try it out, this is how you can supplement your nutrients for the day.
- Protein: First, you should calculate how much protein you need. Once you have a number, great sources of protein can be found in tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers, beans, nuts and nut butters, eggs.
- Iron: Eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, soy-based foods, dried prunes and apricots, nuts beans, legumes, whole-wheat bread, and baked potatoes are rich in iron.
- Calcium: Your main defense against osteoporosis and it helps keep weight down, it is plentiful in cheese, yogurt and milk. If you are an Ovo-vegetarian or a vegan, you can get calcium from soy products, legumes, almonds, sesame tahini, calcium-fortified orange juice. Dark, leafy vegetables like collard greens and bok choy are also a good source.
- Zinc: useful in boosting the immune system, is abundant in soybeans and soymilk, veggie “meats,” eggs, cheese and yogurt, fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, breads, mushrooms, and peas. Wheat germ and pumpkin seeds also have high zinc content
- Vitamin B12: Soy-based beverages, some breakfast cereals, and fortified veggie “meats” are all good sources of vitamin B12
- Riboflavin: Almonds, fortified cereals, cow’s milk, yogurt, mushrooms, and soy milk are riboflavin-rich foods.
- Linolenic acid (omega-6):Normally gained from poultry and eggs, other sources for it can come from canola oil and flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, along with soybeans, tofu, avocado, walnuts, and walnut oil.
This all seems like a lot of work but the rewards your body will reap will pay you back tenfold. Just to list a few benefits, vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, are less likely to have Type 2 diabetes, and with your body spending less time digesting animal protein, you might enjoy a small energy boost.