Vegetarian diets are often associated with healthier lifestyles, not without reason. However, this association is made because vegetarians generally go out of their way to find certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients most people get from meat. People who have been vegetarians for years usually know exactly how to supplement their meatless regimens with the proper ingredients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you are new to vegetarianism, you may wonder how to incorporate those lacking nutrients into your diet. Here are some tips to help keep your body in good shape with your new vegetarian diet.
Protein is probably the most obvious nutrient naturally lacking in a vegetarian diet. A serving of roast beef, for example, has 28 gms of protein, while a standard serving of bacon as 25 gms. An omnivore clearly can rack up protein grams quickly, but it may be discouraging to you to try to find vegetarian offerings that can match. If you choose not to go the more extreme, vegan route, a glass of milk or a medium-sized egg can get you about 6 gms, just to start. However, vegans can make up for lost protein too. One of the best options, popular among vegetarians and vegans alike is tofu. A cup of firm tofu contains 20 gms of protein, almost making up for a serving of meat by itself. Another strong protein option is one cup of some sort of legume, a source of around 17 gms of protein.
If these big-ticket protein items don't suit you, it's still not difficult to piece together a diet that will satisfy your body's protein needs. A cup and a half of spaghetti has 11 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked oatmeal has six grams. If you're not a fan of tofu but you don't mind soy, you can try soy milk, which offers seven grams of protein per cup. Finally, a few tablespoons of nuts can net you around four grams. With all of these options, it's easy to compose a diet that is rich in protein without relying on meat.
Meat is not only a logical source for protein; it is an excellent source of several other nutrients as well. Iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B-12 are all important nutrients found in abundance in meat. But just like protein, vegetarians can find other ways to incorporate these nutrients into their diets. Iron is actually found in many plants, but the variety found in meat is less affected by other substances which tend to inhibit its absorption into the body. To increase this absorption, vegetarians should avoid things such as coffee, tea and an oversupply of fiber. Zinc can be found in foods such as cashews, sunflower seeds and soybeans, all of which are easy enough to turn into regular snacks.
Dairy foods are rich in calcium, but there are several options recommended for vegans as well. Almonds, beans, tofu and soy yogurt are some options as well as foods, such as orange juice, which are often fortified with calcium. Vitamin B-12 is often the trickiest for vegetarians to obtain, as it does not occur naturally outside of meat. However, as with calcium, it is a nutrient that is included in many fortified foods. Seek out foods that do include it, such as varieties of cereal and soy milk.