This is not a sponsored post. All opinions belong to jenny at dapperhouse.
As many of you know, I am a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian does not equate to being healthy. In fact, it creates many challenges for maintaining healthy nutrition! No matter what type of diet you are on, it is incredibly important to know both your nutritional needs and the food sources that can meet them. When you have restrictions (like not eating meta) it is especially important. I will help you make sense of the types of vegetarians as well as the nutrients that are required to make up for the meat that is not consumed in each category.
Types of Vegetarians
Depending on the “level” of vegetarianism, your available options become more and more limited. Here are the various types of vegetarian diets.
Vegans: DON’T consume red or white meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, gelatin or beeswax in their diets. (Vegans don’t consume any products created by or involving animals. This means no animal products or by-products whatsoever including not using make-up tested on animals, pillows filled with goose down or clothing made of wool, for example.)
Lacto-ovo vegetarians: DON’T: consume red meat, white meat, fish or fowl. They DO: eat dairy products and egg products.
Pollotarian: DON’T: consume red meat or fish and seafood, but DO eat poultry and fowl.
Pescatarians: DON’T eat red meat, white meat or fowl but do allow fish and seafood only. This is the type of vegetarian I am. Some people do not consider pescatarians to be true vegetarians because we still eat sea animals. (So snotty when they are still eating eggs and promoting cow dairies, but whatever) I feel that I can eat fish because fish are too brainless to be considered animals. (JUST KIDDING – no hate mail please) The truth is that I feel I am not meeting my own nutritional needs without including fish in my diet. Particularly for the critical Omega 3 fatty acids needed for my personal health. The word pescatarian gives me a label to quickly explain my dietary restrictions.
Common Deficiencies Found in Vegetarian Diets
If you are any of these types of vegetarian you have to be certain to get the protein, vitamins and minerals that the rest of the population is getting in their animal proteins. Most commonly, the main deficiencies faced by non-meat eaters are:
Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA)
Fat soluble vitamins (A & D)
Why Vegetarians (and everyone) Need These Nutrients
Omega 3’s are critical to preventing alzheimers, dementia, heart disease, depression, and more.
Vitamins A & D are imperative to a healthy immune system, strand bones, vision and more.
Iron deficiency (anemia) is a serious and debilitations condition causing fatigue and exhaustion to dizziness and chronic infections.
Vitamin B12 is also a critical component of a healthy diet warding off things like cancer, MS, depression, alzheimers, brain damage and mood swings.
Calcium is critical to bone density. It prevents PMS, reduces high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also reduces colon and rectal cancers.
Zinc is necessary for total immune system function, memory capabilities and good vision. It can prevent acne, pneumonia, ADHD, diarrhea and the common cold.
While many of these essential nutrients are found in meats, they can also be consumed in plant based foods. A vegetarian may have to eat more quantities of certain foods (like dark, leafy greens) in order to meet the daily nutritional requirements. Vegetarians ultimately find that taking daily supplements or eating specifically fortified foods are the only way to consume these essential nutrients.
Top Vegetarian Foods That Contain These Vital Nutrients
seeds like chia, flax and hemp
dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula
beans like mung, navy, soy and kidney
veggies like broccoli, winter squashes,
brussels sprouts and olive oil
veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots spinach and kale
fruits like cantaloupe, apricots and mangoes
mushrooms that have been treated with ultra violet light
fortified juices and grain products
dark, leafy, green veggies
dried fruits like raisins
iron fortified grains
fortified tofu products
It is difficult to get calcium from plant based foods so fortified and enriched foods or supplements are the required source for vegetarians.
nuts and seeds
leafy green veggies
As you can see, being a vegetarian has some specific nutritional concerns that must be addressed to stay healthy and avoid some pretty crucial medical issues. Depending on what type of vegetarian you are will determine the supplements and food choices that you need to consider each day.
What type of vegetarian are you?
How do you meet your nutritional goals and needs with plant based foods?