Healthy eating for vegans and vegetarians
What do different types of vegetarians eat?
There are different types of vegetarians but all vegetarians avoid eating meat, many avoid animal by-products such as gelatine and most will also avoid eating fish and seafood as well.
As long as a varied diet is consumed, vegetarian and vegan diets can provide all the nutrients needed to be healthy (with the exception of vitamin b12 in strict vegan diets). However there are some nutrients that are harder to get from a vegetarian or vegan diet, either because plants foods contain smaller quantities than animal products or because they are less easily absorbed by the body. The main nutrients to consider for vegetarians and vegans are iron, selenium, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Most vegans and vegetarians get enough protein from their diets. However, it is important to consume a range of different proteins to make sure you get enough of all of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and essential amino acids are those that the body cannot make itself and so are needed from the diet. Vegans and ovo-vegetarians may also need to make sure they are getting enough calcium, especially when breastfeeding as requirements for calcium increase during this time. Non-dairy sources of calcium include calcium fortified soya, nut, rice and oat drinks, bread, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and sesame seeds.
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2014