Dietary considerations for vegetarians/vegans
With more people adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, we felt it was important to highlight some important considerations when switching to a plant-based diet. Due to a lack of animal products, there are some key nutrients/vitamins that you may need to supplement with in order to create a balanced diet.
The first consideration is obviously protein intake. In general, people who eat a plant-based diet don’t get enough protein which is prevalent in meat, dairy, and egg products. Even more importantly though is the fact that plant-based proteins are often missing important essential amino acids. Amino acids elicit muscle protein synthesis and help to promote recovery. So it is recommended that vegetarians/vegans consume a range of plant-based proteins including plant-based protein powders to meet their amino acid requirements.
There are also several vitamins/minerals to be conscious of if you are planning to switch to a plant-based diet. Vitamin B12 is commonly deficient in these diets. B12 is required for blood formation and a deficiency can lead to anemia and nerve damage. Some foods can be found that are fortified in vitamin B12, otherwise it should be taken as a supplement.
Calcium is also possibly in low amounts in a plant-based diet. Calcium obviously aids in bone mineralization as well as with nerve and muscle stimulation. Calcium can be found in vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, and kale and in calcium fortified drinks.
Other vitamins/minerals to be aware of include vitamin D, iron, and zinc.
So, if you are a vegetarian/vegan or are planning to make the switch just be aware that you have to be more strategic in your food selection and you have to monitor your vitamin/minerals closely or make sure to supplement to ensure you are getting in the correct amounts.