Anyone can be a vegetarian or vegan.
It is a common misconception that being a vegan or vegetarian strains the body and makes it difficult to meet daily nutrient requirements. The truth is, athletes, pregnant women, and even children can live a healthy vegan lifestyle if they understand the nutrition behind it. There are all sorts of plant-based foods that can provide the same nutrition as animal sources when eaten in the right combinations and amounts.
Myth or fact?
Vegans have a hard time getting enough protein to meet their daily needs.
Myth. Even though everyone only associates protein with meat, there are plenty of other protein sources to meet a vegan's needs. Whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy are all good sources of protein to include in vegan meals. Keep in mind, however, that a vegan's protein needs may be higher than those who eat meat (plant-based proteins are not as easily digested and absorbed.)
Besides protein, nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are especially important for vegans to emphasize. Click on the link below to Live Vegan's list of other common questions asked about nutrition:
The Vegetarian Resource Group (who can be found at their link in the column to the right) has also created their own version of the USDA MyPlate diagram, My Vegan Plate, to help vegans visualize a healthy and balanced meal and what it should include. If you are a new vegetarian or vegan, consulting a doctor or dietitian would be a great way to get started planning meals so that all your nutrient needs continue to be met.
For recipes and additional nutritional content for vegetarians and vegans, visit any of the following sites:
- Building a Healthy Vegetarian Meal: Myths and Facts
- Food Sources of Important Nutrients for Vegetarians
- PETA's Two-Week Vegan Meal Plan and Recipe Home Page
- The Collegiate Vegan's Recipe Index