If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian or vegan it's important to know how to replace the key nutrients that meat, fish and dairy provide. This simple list should help you navigate your way through what to fill your shopping basket with.
If you chose to become vegetarian or vegan for a short period or indefinitely, there are two things you need to make sure you focus on. Firstly, make it delicious, because if the change you make isn’t enjoyable then you won’t stick to it. There are lots of brilliant books and blogs out there with great recipes, you can start with this one, it’s my absolute favourite recipe. And secondly, it’s really important that you read up on how to replace the nutrients that you were getting previously from meat, fish and dairy products.
Below, with the help of our Nutritionist Rob Hobson, I have complied a list of the key nutrients you need and the foods that you can get them from meat, fish or dairy.
Although plant foods contain protein, they’re called ‘incomplete’ as they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids found in meat. It’s important that you combine your non-meat proteins together so the amino acid profiles complement each other (a lack of essential amino acids could impact on your body’s ability to build certain proteins and affect many aspect of your health as they are vital for the growth and repair of cells and tissues. Known as ‘food combining’, this is simple to do by making meals that contain two or more of the non-meat protein sources (below).
PLANT-BASED PROTEIN SOURCES INCLUDE:
· Black-eyes beans
· Split peas
· For vegetarians only: Eggs
Vitamin B12, Omega Fatty Acids, Iron and Calcium are four essential micronutrients that are commonly found in food of animal origin.
IRON SOURCES INCLUDE:
· Dried fruit
· Dark leafy vegetables (except spinach which can inhibit mineral absorption)
· Wholegrains (oats and brown rice)
CALCIUM SOURCES INCLUDE:
· Fortified rice milk
· Sunflower seeds
· Dark leafy vegetable
VITAMIN B 12 SOURCES INCLUDE:
Most nutritionists would recommend vegans or vegetarians taking a B12 supplement as is it difficult to get enough from non-meat sources and lack of this important vitamin can cause anemia, tiredness and extreme fatigue.
OMEGA FATTY ACID SOURCES:
· Chia seeds and oil
· Flax seeds and oil
· To mark National Vegetarian Week next week, we've come up with our top 10 tips for going vegetarian.
1. Have your reasons.
When asked what my number one business tip is, I always say it is to have a personal goal and a business goal. It is these goals that I go back to time and time again, especially at the low points! And this applies to lifestyle choices too. Ask yourself why you want to turn vegetarian, and remind yourself of these beliefs when faced with meat.
2. Plan your meals
One of my teachers at school always used to say “Failure to prepare, is preparation to fail.” And it is so true. There are so many delicious and interesting vegetarian recipes available to us now, online and in print, that you’ll be able to plan your week’s meals without a second thought for meat.
3. Now you’re armed with your recipes, write a shopping list (without meat on it).
And once you’re in the shop, stick to your list and don’t pick up anything else!
4. Plan where you are going to go for lunch and suss out the good veggie options.
Having recently turned vegetarian myself, I have been so impressed with the vegetarian options at restaurants. No more is the vegetarian option a single soggy plate of lettuce leaves. Chefs and restaurants are paying much more attention to the versatility, and huge appeal, of the humble veggie. Oh, and did I mention all of our salads at the delis are vegetarian?
5. Get your whole office on board.
It’s a cliché, but it is so much easier to motivate yourself to do something if it is with others. So get your colleagues/housemates/husband or wife on board and take a stand together. What’s that, you’re all going to Nandos? No thanks, we’d rather enjoy our delicious aubergine tempura burgers with pickled red onion and tzatziki whilst simultaneously saving the planet.
6. Make it fun…
Discover new recipes and experiment with ingredients you wouldn’t normally have gone for. Since turning vegetarian I've had a huge amount of fun tricking my husband into eating Vegetarian food, we’ve made burgers and curries, stews and huge bowls of grain salads. We’ve made banana ice-cream, coconut custard and our very own nut butters. We are cooking with more vegetables, herbs and spices and surprisingly no one in the family is missing meat.
7. Watch Carnage on iPlayer.
The final catalyst for my becoming vegetarian.
8. Make sure you get the energy balance right to match your daily needs.
Include energy-dense foods in your diet, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, oils and dried fruits, all of which also offer vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that will help you to feel well and maintain a healthy weight.
9. Avoid areas that smell of bacon sandwiches. Obv.
10. Consider supplementing.
Vitamin B12, iron, zinc and calcium are four essential nutrients that are commonly found in foods of animal origin and as such can often be lacking in a plant-based diet. You might want to consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement to make sure you get all the micronutrients required to support good health and well-being.
Join my vegetarian cooking classes to learn some super tasty recipes to get you going.
Yours in health,