Vegetarian diets – the basics
Vegetarian diets can be really healthy, but they need to be carefully planned to make sure all the nutrients you need to be healthy are included.
A vegetarian diet is based around plant foods. There are different types of vegetarian diets including:
- Vegan – only plant foods are included
- Lacto – dairy foods are included
- Ovo-lacto – dairy foods and eggs are included.
Vegetarians need to be mindful of some particular nutrients:
- Iron (and anaemia)
- Vitamin B12 (especially vegan diets)
- Calcium (especially vegan diets)
It’s super important that when cutting out animal foods, the foods and nutrients are replaced with other nutritious food choices.
Each day try to include:
- Eggs, dried beans, lentils, nuts or seeds
- High-fibre breads and cereals
- Dairy foods or calcium enriched soy foods
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats like olive oil
- Foods fortified with vitamin B12 if excluding dairy and eggs
- Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and omega-3 fortified foods such as some types of bread.
Because children have different nutritional needs to adults, care must be taken when planning a vegetarian diet for this group. Parents and carers should seek the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) if providing a vegetarian diet to children. An APD will ensure the diet meets the extra needs for growth and development.