National Vegetarian Week

This week is National Vegetarian Week, which is running from 16th - 22nd May.  A vegetarian diet can be beneficial for our health as well as for the planet but we still need to make sure we are getting all the nutrients our body needs from our diet.

The NHS gives us advice on what to be aware of if we are following a vegetarian or plant based diet.

Calcium

If we are using plant based milk alternatives, make sure they are fortified with calcium and other nutrients.

Protein

Get protein from a variety of sources. Eating a range of protein foods, such as eggs, meat alternatives, nuts and seeds, beans, pulses and lentils, will ensure we are getting a variety of amino acids our body needs to grow and repair.

Iron

Iron is important for making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Iron levels can be lower in a vegetarian so it is important to ensure our diet includes vegetarian iron rich foods including eggs, pulses, dried fruit, dark green vegetables, wholemeal bread and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B12

This vitamin is needed for growth, repair and health. It is found in dairy products, eggs, yeast extracts, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified soya products. We need to make sure these foods are a regular part of our diet to make sure we get enough vitamin B12.

Omega 3

The main dietary source of this fatty acid is oily fish and it is used in the body for maintaining a healthy heart. Vegetarian sources include flaxseed, rapeseed and soya oil, soya based foods (e.g tofu), walnuts and eggs which have been enriched with omega 3. Plant based omega 3 may not have as much benefit for our health as those from oily fish but vegetarians can look after their heart by also following a healthy, balanced diet.

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National Vegetarian Week