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How to Be Healthy on a Vegetarian Diet

Updated on October 15, 2010

Tips for a Healthy Vegetarian

Being a vegetarian can be a challenge at times in regards to diet and making sure to get the appropriate vitamins. But, following a few guidelines and tips, you can be a very healthy person as a vegetarian.

Here are 5 tips to be a healthy vegetarian. Well, actually, these 5 tips are great for anyone to consider to keep healthy.

  1. Eat at least 1 dark green vegetable three times a week.Consider broccoli, kale, spinach, and collard greens. These dark green vegetables are packed with vitamins such as calcium and iron that are necessary for a healthy diet and person.
  2. Take a vitamin supplement containing vitamin B12. Or, you can include a yeast in your diet.
  3. Reduce your refined sugar intake.Try to keep your sweet tooth under control. Use sugar replacers such as maple syrup, stevia, and agave. You can still intake refined sugar, but make sure it's only occasionally.
  4. Keep salad dressing on hand. You may be more likely to eat your vegetables if you always have your favorite salad dressings on hand. Keep a variety, in case you have a taste for Ranch and you only have Italian.
  5. Eat the rainbow. Basically, because fruits and vegetables all contain different nutrients, you will want to make sure to vary the colors that you eat. Green spinach, red tomatoes, purple cabbage and yellow squash, will make for an interesting dinner.

Vegetarian Food Pyramid

The food pyramid below is not for a vegan, but a vegetarian, as it contains dietary recommendations for dairy information. In order to be a healthy vegetarian, you will want to make sure that you have an appropriate diet plan.

Drink Water

Once you've decided to go vegetarian, you will want to make sure to up the water intake. Keep a bottle of water on hand with you always. Water is definitely important when you first begin to adjust to a new eating style because it will help to curve any cravings you may be having- in this case that cheeseburger from MacDonalds.

fruits and vegetables
fruits and vegetables
fried tofu
fried tofu

How to Get the Right Nutrients

Well, since you're no longer eating meat, you are probably trying to figure out how to get the correct vitamins and proteins...

First off, make sure to eat a well- balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You still need to make sure that you're getting the essential vitamins, but for the most part, you're already eating one of the healthiest diets.

Protein

Women need about 45 grams of protein each day, and men need about 55 grams, so you need to make sure to get this intake of protein somehow. Tofu is a great source of protein; about one cup equals to around 30 grams of protein. Consider vege- burgers, soy, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, brown rice, and whole grains.

Calcium

Calcium is just as important for adults as it is kids. You want to make sure that your bones are healthy. Make sure to drink milk; if you're vegetarian, if you're vegan, there are other sources of calcium you can consider. Make sure to eat spinach, collard greens, kale, soy milk, fortified orange juice, sesame seeds, broccoli, almonds, carrots, and rice milk. Shake soy milk, rice milk, and orange juice before drinking because the calcium tends to settle.

Iron

Just like protein, you need to make sure to get the appropriate levels of iron in your body. Make sure to eat a well balanced diet to ensure that you get the most out of the foods you eat. Drinking coffee and tea can reduce your absorption of iron, so if you choose to drink either beverage, make sure to do so at least 3 hours before eating. Tofu, lentils, spinach, soy, chickpeas, and hummus, are great sources of iron. Vitamin C will increase your absorption of iron, as well. If you choose to take an iron supplement, you may consider drinking orange juice as a chaser.

B12

Vegetarians do not have to worry about B12 as much as vegans do, as a B12 deficiency is very rare among vegans and non-vegetarians. But, when it happens, it's serious a matter. Your body has the ability to store vitamin B12 for years, so if you've just changed over to a vegan, you should have plenty of reserves. You can make sure that yeast, miso, and some seaweeds, are a part of your diet, as they are sources of B12.

If you smoke, you automatically lower your B12 reserves.

 Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed physician. If you are thinking about converting to your diet, consult your doctor so that you can ensure that you stay healthy in the process.

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    • profile image

      Mary 

      6 years ago

      Love the articles however I have a question, u said humans do not have the ability to eat raw meat? However why do we cook most of our vege as well... For example I'm sure u would not eat raw broccoli right

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 

      7 years ago

      Thank you very much for this pages: is very useful and well write. In particular I did not know that the yeast and miso are source of vit. B12.

      Fucsia

    • profile image

      britni 

      8 years ago

      thaks i wasn't sue about being a vegetarian because of health. but now im sure and ready... thank you for this:))

    • Colebabie profile image

      Colebabie 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very good hub! I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 :)

    • dwmiller profile image

      dwmiller 

      9 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Very helpful to me. My wife and I are trying to go vegetarian. Very good information on protein intake. That was a huge concern.

    • Amber Musselman profile image

      Amber Musselman 

      9 years ago

      thank you for this hub, it is helping me a lot!! I have tried to eat vegetarian for a while now but wqsnt sure how to stay healthy and get the nutrients and things i needed but this helps.

    • Riggy profile image

      Riggy 

      10 years ago from Beautiful southern California

      That's a great game plan. I am in the midst of eating more in line with being a vegetarian. Appreciate the info!

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