People may choose to be vegetarians due to cultural and religious reasons or to stay fit and healthy. Creating a healthy diet plan for vegetarians that ensures variety and adequate intake of essential nutrients needs planning. The following are 10 of the best diet tips for vegetarians:
1. Consult the food pyramid: The diet plan for vegetarians must be based around grains (five to six servings a day), especially fiber-dense whole grains such as millet, whole wheat, brown rice, and oats.
2. Pile up proteins: A common concern that vegetarians have is ensuring adequate intake of proteins. They should include nuts like almonds and walnuts, legumes, soybeans, and soy products in their diet plan, all of which are good sources of protein. This is especially relevant for vegans, who don’t eat dairy products.
3. Calcium is a concern. Vegetarians should ensure that sufficient sources of essential minerals like calcium are included in their diet. Though dairy products are great sources of calcium, vegans can compensate by adding green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, collards). Also include calcium-fortified fruit juices, cereal mixes, and yogurt packs.
4. Include enough iron. Iron is another crucial mineral. It can be supplied by non-meat sources like dried beans, nuts, enriched cereals, and green leafy vegetables. Eat vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, and strawberries to improve the body's absorption of iron.
5. Fill up on good fatty acids. Vegetarian diets that restrict the intake of fish and eggs may be deficient in heart-friendly omega 3 fatty acids. A healthy diet for vegetarians must include omega 3-rich ingredients like flaxseed oil, olive oil, and avocadoes.
6. Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of red blood cells and brain function. Good sources for vegetarians include dairy products, soy products like tempeh and miso, seaweed, fortified breakfast cereals, and yeast extract spreads like Marmite.
7. Meat makeovers. Substitute meat in your favorite recipes with healthy vegetarian options like tofu, cottage cheese, or beans.
8. Variety is the spice of life. Add variety to your plate by trying different vegetable combinations for pastas, salads, and stir-fry.
9. The rainbow diet plan. You will get a host of nutrients if you follow the rainbow rule for at least one meal in the day. That means, go for a variety of color on your plate with vegetables that are green (capsicum, broccoli, any salad leaves), orange (pumpkin), red (red capsicum, red cabbage), and yellow (squash, yellow pepper).
10. Visit a nutritionist. If you are pregnant, lactating, diabetic, or have any condition that has special nutritional needs, you should consult a nutritionist to develop a well-balanced and healthy vegetarian diet plan.
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