Vegetarian Variety

Content by: NCES, Inc.

Vegetarian diets can be healthy, nutritious and easy to prepare, if well planned. Put together a healthy, vegetarian plan!

Vegetarian Variety
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Know the terms:
* Vegetarians do not eat foods of animal origin.

* Vegans eat only plant foods and avoid using products like silk, wool, honey and other animal products.

* Lacto Ovo Vegetarians eat milk & eggs, but not red meat, seafood or poultry.

* Semi-Vegetarians – Eat milk, eggs, poultry & seafood, but not red meat.

Proteins:
Sources include lentils, peas, beans, nuts, tofu and cereals. Eat a variety of these foods throughout the day to meet your needs.

Calcium:
Calcium
Consume 2-3 servings of calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium fortified tofu, calcium-fortified soy milk, broccoli, bok choy, kale, or turnip greens. For dairy, choose 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products per day to meet calcium needs.

Vitamin B-12:
It's hard to meet minimums in a vegetarian diet, because B12 comes mostly from animal sources. 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products forlacto ovo vegetarians. Others, consider eating fortified cereals or a plant-based vegetarian supplement.

Zinc:
Whole grains, legumes and nuts are good plant sources. Lacto ovos can get zinc from dairy products.

Iron:
Rich vegetarian foods include spinach, lentils, dried beans, dried fruits and nuts, bulgur and prune juice. Eat Vitamin C rich foods, such as citrus fruits, to help your body absorb all the iron.

Tips for Eating Healthy Vegetarian:

* Include at least 2-3 servings of lentils/dried beans or peas per day in your diet. These foods are rich in iron and other nutrients.

* Eat Vitamin C rich foods and iron rich foods together to increase absorption of iron.

* Substitute butter or cream cheese spreads with nut butters or bean dips.

* Add beans to your salad to pump up the protein and sprinkle some nuts on top for extra crunch and nutrition.

Next Steps:

* Be sure to drink 2-3 servings of calcium-fortified soy milk/soy yogurt/soy cheese/orange juice per day to meet your calcium requirements.

* Remember to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes to get optimal nutrition.

* Try something new! Many ethnic cuisines have wonderful vegetarian/vegan recipes that are nutritionally balanced.

* Watch portion size when you snack on nuts and dried fruit.

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