Mandatory Nutrients Before You Think About Going Meatless

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photo: Courtesy of Sura Nualpradid

Whether you are contemplating cutting meat out of your diet to try and lose weight, be more friendly to animals, or because you just don’t enjoy a big, juicy, burger anymore, there are eight essential nutrients you are going to have to ensure are in your new meatless meal plan. Many times, when people decide to go all green and stop eating meat, they wind up depriving themselves of important nutrients. There are those who replace meat with hearty vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, while others replace meat with potato chips and cakes. Either way, it is important to maintain a balanced diet to stay healthy.

According to Eating Well Magazine, calcium is one of the most important nutrients to maintain. If you are planning on taking your vegetarian goals to the extreme and cutting out dairy as well, vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, and kale are great sources of calcium. Iodine is essential for metabolizing food into energy, but since seafood is a primary source of the nutrient, vegetarians are often lacking. Sprinkle a little extra iodized salt onto your next meal to make up for it! Iron, probably one of the most prevalent nutrients found in meats, can be found in legumes, whole grains, and dried fruits. Vegetarians are advised to consume 1.8 times the amount of iron daily than non-vegetarians. Eating iron-filled foods with tea, coffee, and chocolate can help increase absorption. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development and heart health and are abundant in fish. Eating foods like walnuts, flaxseed, and soy can increase amounts in your diet. Vegetarians should have no problem getting enough protein in their diet as it is in nearly every food, but for extra cell building power, foods like beans, whole grains, and nuts provide an extra serving. Veggie lovers will, however, have some trouble finding Vitamin B12 in any natural foods. Because this vitamin is only found in animal foods, vegetarians must look to processed foods that are fortified with it such as cereals and soy milks. Aside from just sitting in the sun all summer to soak up enough Vitamin D, try adding fortified cow’s milk and soy milk into your diet to increase bone health. To avoid getting sick this season, zinc is a vital nutrient to keep your immune system healthy. Bountiful in meats such as beef and pork, vegetarians should look for legumes, beans and soy products to make sure they are fighting off and illnesses this summer. Read more of the article titled Eight Key Nutrients Vegetarians Need for more information on the nutrients as well as delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals. Maybe after trying out some of these recipes you’ll find you enjoy your meals meatless. I’m not sure I could turn down steak tips and burgers at summer barbeques, but the vegetarian burger recipe might bring out my inner omnivore. 

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