It’s funny to hear people’s reaction when I tell them that I am now vegetarian. The next line usually follows with “What do you do for protein?” It blows my mind that no one for a second ever asks a straight carnivore how they get their vitamin A, C, E, B9, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.
In CNN’s article entitled, Young Vegetarians: Getting the Nutrition they need,” the author highlights many key points for proper nutrition. Vegetarians must be more aware of finding alternate sources of protein, Vitamin D, B12, Calcium, and Iron. Like any other diet, you could do it really right or really wrong. You could technically eat french fries, grilled cheese, and milk shakes everyday and still be considered vegetarian. However, to become vegetarian the right way you must evaluate which nutrients are missing and find plant-based sources to fulfill your dietary needs.
The meat industry has brainwashed us to believe that animal protein is the only type of protein. However this is not true. I’ve taken this information from my previous blog post, but I truly believe that it is important for us to know what other sources are out there. Examples of plant-based protein include (per each cooked cup):
Protein recommended daily value: 0 .9 grams per kg of healthy body weight/day
- Soybeans: 29 grams
- Lentils: 18 grams
- Black beans: 15 grams
- Kidney beans: 13 grams
- Chickpeas: 12 grams
- Veggie baked beans:
- Pinto beans: 12 grams
- Black-eyed peas: 11 grams
- Peas: 9 grams
- Spinach: 5 grams
- Broccoli: 4 grams
Vitamin D (recommended daily value 400 IU)
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining calcium balance, regulating the immune system, reducing risk of multiple sclerosis, secreting insulin, and regulating blood pressure.
- 1 cup fortified soymilk (Silk): 120 IU
- 1 cup fortified rice milk (Rice Dream): 100 IU
- 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal (Cheerios, Cornflakes, Grapenuts): 40 IU
- 4 dried Shitake mushrooms: 250 IU
- 5 Chanterelle Mushrooms: 200 IU
- 1 cup of white muschrooms: 70 IU
Vitamin B12 (recommended daily value 2.4 mcg/day)
Vitamin B12 is essential for the health of your nerves and red blood cells. It also helps keep a healthy digestive system. It can also protect one from heart disease and help control unhealthy levels of cholesterol. It’s necessary for healthy skin, hair and nails. If you’re vegetarian and eat eggs and cheese, you need not worry about a deficiency. However, if you’re vegan you must be aware of a vitamin b12 deficiency which could lead to permanent cognitive disorders as stated in this article.
- 1 tsp. Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula Nutritional Yeast (T6635+) 1.3 mcg
- 1 cup fortified soymilk (Silk, Edensoy Extra, Soy Dream) 3.0 mcg
- 1 cup fortified rice milk (Rice Dream) 1.5 mcg
- 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal (Cheerios, Cornflakes, Grapenuts, etc.) 1.5 mcg
- 1 veggie hot dog (Yves Veggie Dogs) 1.5 mcg
- 4 slices veggie bologna (Yves) 1.2 mcg
- 1 cup Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal tea 1.2 mcg
- 1 serving of Swiss cheese 3.34 mcg
- 1 egg 1.95 mcg
Calcium (recommended daily value [1300 mg/day (Ages 9-18); 1000 mg/day (19-50 yrs); 1200 mg/day (51+)]:
Calcium strengthens bones, prevents obesity, protects cardiac muscle, prevents colon cancer, prevents PMS, prevents kidney stones, maintains healthy pH levels, and controls blood pressure.
- 1 cup cooked collards 356 mg
- 1 cup cooked broccoli 178 mg
- 1 cup navy beans 130 mg
- 1/2 cup tofu (Nasoya firm, Chang Shing) firm 200 mg
- 1 cup fortified plant milk (Silk, Westsoy Plus, Rice Dream) 300 mg
- 1 cup calcium fortified orange juice 300 mg
- 1 serving Total breakfast cereal 1000 mg
- 1 Tbs. blackstrap molasses 170 mg
- 5 dried figs 60 mg
*Iron [recommended daily value 32 mg/day (Menstruating vegetarian women); 14 mg/day (Vegetarian men)]:
Iron is necessary for hemoglobin formation, muscle and brain function, body temperature regulation, oxygen carrying capabilities, making neurotransmitters, builds concentration, and strengthens the immune system.
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas 6.8 mg
- 1/2 cup tofu (Chang Shing firm) 12.6 mg
- 1/2 cup tofu (Nasoya firm) 2.1 mg
- 1 veggie hot dog (Yves Veggie Dogs) 4.5 mcg
- 1 cup cooked kale 1.2 mg
- 10 dried apricot halves or 4 dried figs 1.7 mg
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 5.2 mg
- 1 packet instant oatmeal 6 mg
- 1 cup Corn Flakes or Cheerios 8.1 mg
- 1/2 cup Grapenuts 16.2 mg
- 1 cup Total cereal 18 mg
- 1 Tbs. blackstrap molasses 3.6 mg
- 1 cup cooked quinoa 4.4 mg
*Consuming Vitamin C rich foods with meals can increase iron absorption. Foods particularly rich in Vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, tropical fruit, melon, and citrus.
As a vegetarian, it is important to become educated about your food choices. Is your body getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals to nourish your body? Take the time to evaluate your diet to become a new improved happy healthy you!
Plant-based protein link: http://www.massgrown.org/high_protein_vegetables.html
Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, & Iron Link: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/AR_Orgs/SANE/Vegan/nutrients.pdf
You can find this CNN article at: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/21/health/young-vegetarians-nutrition/index.html?&hpt=hp_c2