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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nutritional Concerns

Lately, some family members have expressed concern over whether I'm eating a balanced and nutritious diet as a new vegetarian. And I realized that I have no idea.

I found this USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) site with a bunch of links on the subject from a vast range of organizations. There's tons of information here for the general vegetarian population as well as various subgroups--women, children, older adults, pregnant women, vegans, those with food allergies, etc., a creation of the USDA, has a site for vegetarians too.
I found this helpful list on the site of nutrients that vegetarians might find themselves lacking-things that are usually found in animal-based foods, I guess.
  • Protein has many important functions in the body and is essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods. Combining different protein sources in the same meal is not necessary. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.
  • Iron functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the blood. Iron sources for vegetarians include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).
  • Calcium is used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone strength. Sources of calcium for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, soy products (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens). Milk products are excellent calcium sources for lacto vegetarians.
  • Zinc is necessary for many biochemical reactions and also helps the immune system function properly. Sources of zinc for vegetarians include many types of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Milk products are a zinc source for lacto vegetarians.
  • Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and some fortified foods. Sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians include milk products, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include breakfast cereals, soy-based beverages, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast.
I guess the question now is whether I'm eating the right balance of all these foods to get enough of each nutrient...
I'll try to find some recipes that incorporate many of the nutrient rich ingredients. If you have any, please post them!



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