A large number of vegetarians everywhere around the world actually eat a very healthy and well balanced diet which provides them with most different types of important nutrients. Some of them follow such a diet for religious reasons, others have certain cultural reasons while there are also certain vegetarians who follow such a diet simply for ethical reasons. Some people need to embrace a vegetarian diet simply because they have certain health related problems. Before switching to a vegetarian diet, one needs to be well informed about all the aspects that concern it, and the diet needs to be planned carefully, especially in the cases of children, teenagers, breastfeeding women and pregnant women. For those who do not know, there are various different types of vegetarian diets, but the most common ones include lacto-vegetarian diet, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and vegan diet. Lacto-vegetarian diet requires a person to exclude eggs, poultry, fish, meat and all foods which may contain them. Butter, yogurt, cheese, milk and other types of dairy products are allowed, just like the name implies. Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is similar to the above described one, but it also allows eggs to be consumed, once again: just like the name implies. Vegan diet is the strictest one as it does not allow any dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, meat or any type of food which contains these food items. There is also a bit more flexible type of diet which is sometimes referred to as flexitarian diet or semivegetarian diet and it is different in that it sometimes allows fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products and meat but only in small quantities. There are certain guidelines which can be followed if a person wants to start following a vegetarian type of diet. Ramping up is one good way to go as it involves weekly increases of meatless meals which are already enjoyed by the person. Learning how to substitute is also an excellent idea. One could try certain loved recipes in which the meat would be substituted by tofu, soy or simply by adding more vegetables or legumes than usual. Branching out and collecting new, refreshing and interesting menus, recipes and cookbooks may also be a great way of embracing the vegetarian diet.
How Do Children Respond to Vegetarian Diet?
For many years, people in the United States considered not eating meat or other animal traced food items a rather unusual thing. Recent years have seen a large number of people switching to a vegetarian diet for various reasons which are already described above. Unfortunately there are people who switch to a vegetarian diet simply because they cannot afford meat or other animal sourced foods. Children may find it an interesting way of trying new and different types of food which would keep them healthy and provide them with most essential nutrients.
Nutrition in Vegetarian Diet
A healthy type of vegetarian diet is no different than other diets when it comes to several basic principles. It needs to involve as much variety of food as possible, mainly due to the fact that lack of variety cannot provide the person with all different types of essential nutrients. Certain types of vegetarian diets may present a challenge in acquiring several important nutrients. For example, vegan diet does not provide the person with any vitamin B12 and it offers only small amounts of calcium, due to the lack of dairy products involved. This is why those who follow vegetarian diets need to make an extra effort in order to obtain several important nutrients. Iron is one of the most important nutrients, and the best sources which vegetarians may use to obtain it in preferable amounts include blackstrap molasses, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dried figs, raisins, tofu, soybeans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, iron fortified breakfast cereals, dulse, wakame and nori. Calcium sometimes may be a problem, especially for those who avoid consuming any types of dairy products. One should always be aware of the fact that insufficient amounts of calcium may lead to the development of osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium for vegetarians include dried figs, green leafy vegetables, calcium fortified orange juice, fortified soy milk and tofu. Sometimes people who follow a vegetarian diet need to intake certain nutrients in the form of supplements as well. Best sources of vitamin D for vegetarians include exposure to sunlight, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified soy milk. The best sources of protein for vegetarians include vegetables, cereals, grains, soy milk, seeds, beans, tofu, peanut butter, nuts, dairy products and eggs. Vitamin B12 is very hard to obtain for vegetarians but it can be found in fortified soy milk and breakfast cereals. Zinc can be obtained form tempeh, tofu, nuts, dried beans and fortified cereals. Iodine is another important nutrient and it can be obtained from table salt fortified with iodine.