from Food Network Kitchens
These days, more and more folks are ditching meat from their diets for eco- and health-friendly reasons. There are many different types of vegetarians, the strictest being vegan. If you or your loved one is going veg, here are some basic things to remember.
Vegetarian Diets 101: All vegetarians choose from these basic food groups: grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. A vegan is the strictest type; however, different folks may mix it up and allow some foods but not others.
The basic types:
Pesco-vegetarians -- include seafood and fish
Lacto-vegetarians -- include dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt)
Ovo-vegetarians -- include eggs
Ovo-lacto-vegetarians -- include eggs and dairy
Vegan -- no foods containing animal products (including dairy, eggs and even sometimes honey)
Eliminating fish, dairy or eggs from your diet significantly drops your protein intake. For optimum health, we should all take in about two sensible servings of protein a day. If you ditch the meat, there are other options. You might try two tablespoons of peanut butter, an egg, half a cup beans or lentils or three ounces of tofu.
Iron and zinc deficiencies are two other biggies. Many people, meat-eaters and not, lack iron in their diets. It's important for vegetarians to include various iron sources: green leafy veggies (like kale, spinach and broccoli), almonds, lentils and beans.
One thing to remember: iron from plant sources isn't easily absorbed. Combining them with vitamin C-rich foods helps increase absorption. That means, squeeze fresh lemon juice on your spinach or follow your rice and beans with a fresh, fruit salad. Cooking with cast-iron pots can also increase iron consumption, but limit that to once a week because iron is potentially toxic. There are supplements available, but check with your doctor on those first.
As for zinc, you can get that from fish, eggs or dairy -- as long as you eat enough. Nuts are another good source.
Copyright (c) 2009 Scripps Howard News Service