Being a Vegetarian – How to Cover All Your Nutritional Bases

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,038
    Elizabeth Turner, Editor in Chief of Vegetarian Times magazine, discusses how easy it is to meet all your nutritional needs on a vegetarian diet.

    Elizabeth Turner: Hi! this is Elizabeth Turner with Vegetarian Times Magazine, and I want to talk to you about how to cover all your nutritional bases as a vegetarian, which is something you can definitely do. So the big question that always comes out first is how will I get enough protein? This is interesting, because the truth is that Americans actually get twice as much protein as they need. A 150 pound person only needs about 54 grams of protein in a day. So how do you get 54 grams of protein? Well, for breakfast you could have a bowl of all brand cereal with either soy milk or skimmed milk. Then for lunch you could have a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun, and for dinner you could a nice bowl of pasta with maybe some white beans and pesto and veggies, and that would get you to 54 grams of protein in a day. A lot of times people will say that meat protein is more healthy than clamp protein, because it has all the essential amino-acids. Now, this is true, but you want to take another look at that assumption, because meat protein, well, it is complete, it also has a lot of fat in it. Clamp proteins on the other hand do have protein; they also have a lot of anti-oxidants and fiber, which are a lot better for you, and very, very little fat. Also the USDA and the American Dietetic Association say that you can get all the complete proteins that you need as long as you eat a lot of plant foods throughout the day. A lot of people wonder, how will I get enough iron on a vegetarian diet? So I want you to know that the American Dietetic Association says that vegetarians are at no greater risk for iron deficiency than meat eaters. Now to get enough iron you want to eat a lot of beans and leafy greens. Those are very iron rich foods that are healthy in a bunch of other ways too. And here's a tip, if you combine these iron rich foods with foods that are high in Vitamin C, then you can actually turn up the absorption even more. So, we have a Bean Burrito, there's iron in the beans, you add some salsa, there's Vitamin C in the salsa. If you want to have a green salad; if you put a little citrusy dressing on it, that will turn up the iron absorption also. On the flip side, coffee, tea and cocoa are all foods that inhibit the absorption of iron a little bit. So you don't necessarily want to have coffee or tea with an iron rich meal. So here's a pop quiz, do you need a multi-vitamin if you're a vegetarian? Not necessarily. Vegetarians don't really need multi vitamins anymore than anyone else. Although there is one caveat to that, and that's vegans. There is Vitamin B12, which is an essential amino-acid and you definitely need that in your diet and it only comes from animal products. So vegetarians can get it from dairy products and eggs, but if you're a vegan you want to make sure that you're getting it through fortified foods or daily supplements. So you can buy vitamin B12 fortified breakfast cereal. There are a whole bunch of them on the market that are great. You can also buy B12 fortified soy milk or rice milk or you can get a multi-vitamin that covers a 100% of your RDA for Vitamin B12. So those are the important things to know to cover all your nutritional bases on a vegetarian diet.