What you should know
Veganism and vegetarianism only indicates what a person eliminates from their diet
. It doesn’t indicate how much healthy food they will consume. Therefore it's important, when making the vegetarian choice, to also choose good nutrition. The foundation of a proper plant-based diet should be from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Back in early 1977, a committee on nutrition issued a set of dietary guidelines, calling on Americans to avoid red meat and dairy products. As expected, the red meat and dairy industries engulfed the committee with criticism. The recommendations were then rewritten as: “choose meats, poultry, and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake.”
Nutrients that are of concern to the strict vegetarian and vegan include:
· Vitamin B-12 – This is only found in fortified products and nutritional yeasts
o Aim for 3-5 mcg/day from food or 10-100 mcg/day from supplements.
· Calcium – Nuts, seeds, tofu (calcium set), fortified non-dairy milks
o Aim for around 1000 mg per day.
· Iodine – Kelp, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, iodized salt
o Aim to consume 75 – 100 mcg every few days.
· Omega-3 fatty acids – Include flax, hemp, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, DHA from algae supplements
o Consume AT LEAST 2 grams of added ALA per day.
o Add a DHA algae supplement if able
· Vitamin D (D2 is animal free, D3 is animal derived)
o Aim for 1000 IU (25 mcg) on days you don’t get any sun.
For extra credit
· Hippocrates recommended a diet rich in plant-based foods native to their environment.