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Ensuring Balanced Nutrition on a Vegetarian Diet

Searching for Nondairy Calcium

For the lactos and ovolactos, low-fat dairy is brimming with calcium. On the other hand, for all you vegans, it takes some planning, but you, too, can meet your daily calcium requirements by including collard greens, broccoli, beans, kale, turnip greens, calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium-fortified grains, almonds, and, of course, your calcium-fortified soymilk products (including tofu, soybeans, and tempeh).

Have You Had Enough B-12 Today?

Getting enough vitamin B-12 can also be an obstacle for strict vegans, simply because B-12 is derived primarily from animal foods. Once again, you lactos and ovolactos are off the hook because dairy and eggs provide enough to satisfy your daily requirements. The vegan gang has to dig a little deeper. Buy food products that are B-12– fortified: cereals, breads, some soy-analogs, and possibly tempeh. You might also want to pop a B-12 supplement providing 100 percent of the RDA, just to be safe.

Help, I’m in love
with a meat-eater! What do I do?

Relax; mixed marriages are in! If cooking is a major hassle because you and your partner don’t eat the same foods, plan some neutral meals that you’ll both enjoy. For example, make a large dish of stir-fry vegetables and brown rice. You take a portion and toss in tofu; he or she takes a portion and throws in chicken or beef.

Don’t Forget the Kitchen Zinc

Not only do you have to get all of the necessary RDA of calcium, protein, B-12, and other nutrients, yet another concern for the strict vegetarian is getting a fair share of zinc. Although this mineral is found in whole-grain products, tofu, nuts, seeds, and wheat germ, our bodies absorb much less “plant zinc” than “animal zinc.” This is because phytic acid (a substance in the fiber) combines with the zinc and prevents it from being fully absorbed. Therefore, vegetarians need to pay particular attention to getting an abundance of this mineral.

A Day in the Life of a Vegan

Menu 1

  • Amaranth flakes with soy milk
  • Fresh blueberries and raspberries
  • English muffin topped with apple butter
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Cup of vegetarian chili topped with scallions
  • Glass of low-fat soymilk
  • Mixture of dried fruit and walnuts
  • Glass of juice or soymilk
  • Vegetable-tempeh stir-fry (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and tempeh) with brown rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Steamed kale sprinkled with sesame seeds
  • Glass of soymilk
  • Rice Dream (ice cream substitute)
  • Sliced bananas

Menu 2

  • Scrambled tofu (see recipe) with whole-wheat toast
  • Bowl of oatmeal with chopped dates and almonds
  • Glass of cranberry-orange juice
  • Bowl of lentil soup with sourdough rolls
  • Carrot sticks with hummus dip
  • Glass of juice or soymilk
  • Piece of banana bread
  • Glass of soymilk
  • Whole-wheat tortilla stuffed with beans, salsa, and arugula Spinach salad drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Baked apple with maple syrup and chopped walnuts


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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