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Going safely vegetarian

Going safely vegetarian

If you are thinking of going vegetarian here is some information you need to know and understand to help you enjoy the benefits and ensure you are eating a nutritious and complete diet

Pros and cons Myths and benefits

Pros: health benefits , sustainable , ecological, environment friendly, less land and water use, less phosphate fertilizers, less green house emissions, in UK vegan diets just need 1/3 land , water and energy. Beneficial for planet

Cons: Expensive , risk of nutritional deficiencies, specialized as not main stream, time consuming, not convenient,

Myths: “vegan diets are not healthy”, “vegans need to drink milk to get calcium”

“Veganism is not suitable for children”, “vegan diets can make you weak” , “vegan diets are not filling”, “vegan diets are boring”

Health benefits provided you are eating variety and healthy: lower blood cholesterol, high in antioxidants, high in Phyto chemicals, lowers risks of heart disease, some cancers, hypertension, obesity , diabetes, constipation , Diverticular disease and gout

Global burden of disease study GBDS top 7 recommendations:

1.Avoid excess salt,

2.150 g whole grains/day

3. 300 g fruit/day

4. 25 g nut and seeds/day

5.500g vegetables/day

6. 300 mg long chain omega 3 fats(EPA and D H A) a day

7.Avoid processed meat

Failing to meet recommendations account for 90% of diet related ill health (Disability adjusted lost years D A L Y s)


Lacto -O v o vegetarian don’t eat meat , fish , seafood and poultry

But will have dairy and eggs

Vegans don’t eat all animal products including honey , dairy and eggs

Others :Ovo vegetarian include eggs no dairy or animal foods

Pescatarian-eat fish and or shell fish

Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian-eat occasional meat or poultry

Nutrients to consider:

Protein -Component of every cell, build and repair, enzymes and hormones , bones, muscles , cartilage, skin, blood

Found in -Beans, lentils, peas , chick peas , soya and soya products: dairy , tofu( soya bean curd) , nuts, mince Textured vegetable protein, seeds, nut butter(Peanut butter),grains: wheat(cereals, pasta and bread, rice, maize. Soya , quinoa( pseudo cereal ) and hemp(cannabis sativa plant) contain Essential amino acids.

veg burgers , soya sausages can be high in salt and fat- read labels

Iron-Haemoglobin component of red blood cells carries oxygen to lungs –risk of anaemia. For growth and learning

found in-Fortified breakfast cereals , Tofu , dried fruit, beans , peas and lentils, leafy green veg, sesame seeds , nuts and wholemeal bread- add vitamin C- fruit and veg , 1 glass of FJ 150ml with meals or citrus fruit ; oranges, grapefruit , kiwi , mango , sweet potato, peppers and broccoli

Calcium-Bones, blood clot , muscle contraction , heart beat takes from bones

Found in-Tofu, calcium fortified soya milk , yoghurt, puddings, other milks: rice , oats, coconut, almond Kale, Bok choy-Chinese cabbage, collards , brown or white bread, sesame seeds-tahini, nuts , dried fruits e. g apricots , figs. Spinach has high oxalate which can inhibit calcium absorption, red kidney beans , peas, black strap molasses

Vitamin D-Aids in bone and tooth formation , helps maintain heart action and nervous system. Helps absorb minerals like calcium and phosphorus needed for bones and teeth

Found in-Margarine , fortified : cereals , soya milks, yoghurt and deserts, sun exposed mushrooms , veg spreads

Vitamin B12-Aids cell development, functioning of the nervous system and the metabolism of protein and fat

Found in-soya milk , yoghurt and desert, breakfast cereals, rice and oat drinks certain brands , vegan spreads, fortified yeast extracts- marmite, black strap molasses- eat fortified food at least twice a day or supplement 10mcg/d-red star nutritional yeast (flaky tastes like cheese)

Omega 3 fats-Aids brain development, reduces blood pressure, fights infection and help repair. Vision ,Good source of fats for energy and essential nutrients

Found in- Hemp seeds, chia seeds, soya beans, tofu, ground walnuts/walnut butter , ground flax seed , soya , canola and olive oils and margarines, sea veg-algae derived from DHA. Foods and beverages made with algal oil e. g fortified soya, juice and peanut butter To increase efficiency avoid; high sat fats, veg oils- sunflower, safflower and corn oil

Zinc-Important for immunity, makes proteins and DNA, wound healing, proper senses , taste and smell

found in-Fermented soya-tempeh( soya bean cake and miso(Japanese seasoning) Beans soak dried rinse before cooking Whole grain nuts, seeds, lentils , wheat germ , fortified breakfast cereals

Selenium-Protect form damage through infection and free radical, necessary for reproduction, DNA production and thyroid gland function

Found in-Brazil nuts 2 daily other sources include grains, seeds and nuts

Iodine-Necessary for bone , brain and metabolism. Also for thyroid function

Found in -Small amount of iodised salt every 2-3 days-1/4 tsp or sea veg or supplement Food grown closer to ocean

How to get enough energy going vegan

  • Ensure 3 meals 3 snacks eating every 2-3 hours

  • Use peanut butter and nuts-high in calories and fat , contain fibre but less filling than beans and vegetables

  • Drink fortified milk alternatives as milk fruit shake , smoothies, yoghurts- quick and nourishing

  • Avoid high intake of bought junk- crisps, biscuits , sweets, fizzy drinks cakes as less nutritious

  • Ensure wholegrain carbohydrates: wholemeal bread, rice , pasta, cous cous ( crushed durum wheat semolina Moroccan Meghrebi dish),potatoes, cereals

Swapping to vegetarian

1 cup of milk=250 ml

Semi-skimmed cow’s milk118kcal 11.3g CHO 8.8.g P 4.3g fat

Full fat cow’s milk 162kcal 12g CHO 8.3g P 9g fat

Unsweetened fortified soya milk 65kcal 1.3g CHO 6g P 4g fat

Unsweetened fortified almond milk 29.5kcal 0.25g CHO 0.99g P 2.7g fat

Coconut milk fortified dairy free 66kcal 4.8g CHO 0.5g P 5g fat

1 sausage=50g

Pork chilled and grilled 167kcal 5.1g CHO 8.3g P12.6g fat

Vegetarian baked and grilled 90Kcal4.5g CHO 7.5g P 4.7g fat

Average serving of Mince =163 g

Lamb mince 211 kcal 4.2 g CHO 17.3 g P 13.9 g fat

Beef mince 231kcal 3.7g CHO 17.8g P 16.1g fat

Soya mince 427kcal16.6g CHO 70g P 8.8.g fat

Average burger=80-100g

Beef burger 267kcal 0.08gCHO 21.7g P 20g fat

Chicken/turkey burger 238kcal 15.4g CHO 12.8g P 14g Fat

Fish cake 204kcal 20.6g CHO 9.3g P 9.4g fat

Vegetable burger 107Kcal9.1g CHO 1.5g P 7.2g fat

Tofu burger 57kcal 6.1g CHO 3.7g P 2g fat

Average serving of pie 160g

Beef pie 463kcal 37.3g CHO 14.7g P 28.3 g fat

Vegetable pie 254kcal 25g CHO 4.5g P 15g Fat

Average serving of cheese 45g

English cheddar 187kcal 0.05g CHO 11.4g P 15.7g fat

Dairy free hard cheese 144kcal 0g CHO 8.2g P 12.3g fat

Average serving of spread 15g

Butter 107kcal 0.08g CHO 0.06g P 11.9g fat

Almond butter 87kcal 1.1g CHO 3.1g P 7.8g fat

Margarine 99kcal 0.12g CHO 0.09g P 11g fat

KCAL= calories

CHO= carbohydrates


Going vegetarian?

Think- what’s your reason fad or fact Talk- talk with a health care professional to get your fact right Time-Is it the right time for you? Start slowly to let your body adjust to change Taste- going vegetarian can be tasty ,without too much salt and more herbs and spices, varied and healthy, if followed safely and correctly ensuring balance and variety Try- try new and wonderful ways to home cook Teach – your children wisely Take care – your health with regular health checks for deficiencies-vitamin B12, iron, calcium , vitamin D, selenium and iodine

References :

PEN guidelines

BDA food facts

Vegan society

Your goals your pace Dietitian Nutritionist

Tabassum(Tabby) Kabeer SRD HCPCMBDA Freelance Dietitian


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