Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Healthy Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet brings a variety of benefits if you pay attention to the balance of the nutritional content of each food consumed. The benefits of a healthy vegetarian diet include controlling weight, maintaining cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of heart disease to type 2 diabetes.


Vegetarian is generally understood as a diet that does not consume meat. However, not all of them are. There are also vegetarian groups who still consume meat or processed animal products.

Getting to Know the Types of Vegetarian Diet

Most people have an understanding that if someone becomes a vegetarian, the products they consume are only plant-based products. This is not true because the vegetarian diet can differ depending on the type of vegetarian being “adopted”. A vegetarian diet is also claimed to be healthier for people on a blood type diet.

Some types of vegetarians and their diet include:

1. Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian

This vegetarian diet consumes food from plants, but occasionally still consumes meat, dairy products, eggs, poultry and fish in small amounts.

2. Lacto-vegetarians

This vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish, poultry and eggs in the diet. However, products made from milk, such as cheese, yogurt, and butter are still consumed.

3. Ovo-vegetarian

In contrast to lacto vegetarians, the diet of this vegetarian group does not consume meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, but still allows the consumption of eggs.

4. Lacto-ovo vegetarian

This vegetarian diet does not include all types of meat, but still consumes eggs and milk.

5. Vegans

It is the strictest vegetarian diet because it excludes the consumption of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy products from the diet.

Important Nutrients Vegetarians Should Look For

A vegetarian diet must be done properly because reducing or eliminating the consumption of animal products can increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.

For that, arm yourself with good understanding and planning, so that the vegetarian diet you follow does not prevent your body from getting a balanced nutritional intake.

You can still get certain nutrients found in animal products by eating other foods that have similar nutritional values. Some of the nutrients that need attention from a vegetarian diet are:

1. Protein

Protein is needed by the body for the formation of bones, muscles, and skin. Protein is also needed to repair body tissues and fight bacterial and viral infections.

Protein is commonly found in animal products, such as fish, meat, milk and dairy products. Vegetarians can replace their daily protein intake by eating plant foods that contain protein, such as soy products, nuts, and whole grains.

2. Calcium

The body needs calcium to build healthy bones and teeth. These nutrients are usually obtained from dairy and processed products, such as yogurt and cheese.

To meet calcium needs, vegetarians, especially vegans, can get it from other sources, from tofu, tempeh, rice, oats that have gone through the fortification process, sesame seeds, nuts, bread with added calcium, to dried fruits such as raisins. .

3. Vitamin D

To absorb calcium, the body needs vitamin D. This vitamin can be produced by the body naturally with the help of sunlight, so you are advised to sunbathe in the morning.

However, just sunbathing is not enough. You who are on a vegetarian diet can get vitamin D from mushrooms, cereals, and soy drinks that are already equipped with vitamin D. In addition, taking vitamin D supplements can also be another option, but you should consult your doctor first.

4. Iodine

Iodine is a component of thyroid hormone that helps regulate metabolism, growth, and organ function. The perpetrators of a vegetarian diet are considered at risk for iodine deficiency because this nutrient is more commonly found in animal products.

However, there is no need to worry. Some types of plant foods also contain high levels of iodine, including seaweed, soybeans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower. In addition, about a quarter spoon of salt with the addition of iodine can also help meet these needs.

5. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed by the body to maintain a healthy nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. Sources of vitamin B12 are generally found in animal products, so what can be consumed by vegetarians is very limited.

Food sources of vitamin B12 that can be consumed by vegetarians are nori, various types of mushrooms, cereals, and soy milk drinks that have added vitamin B12. In addition, the consumption of vitamin B12 supplements may also be needed so that their needs can be met.

6. Iron

Iron is needed by the body to produce red blood cells. For vegetarians, these nutrients can be met by eating whole grains, flour, breads made from whole grains, iron-fortified cereals, nuts, dried fruit, and green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach.

7. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are needed by the body to maintain heart health. This nutrient is mostly obtained from fish and eggs.

However, vegetarians do not need to worry about this lack of intake, because omega-3 fatty acids can also be obtained from several types of oil, such as canola oil, soybean oil, and soybeans.

If omega-3 intake is deemed insufficient, you can consume fortified products or take additional supplements.

8. Zinc (zinc)

The benefits of zinc for health are to help maintain the immune system and the body's metabolic function. Many animal and vegetable products contain zinc, but the zinc contained in plant products is more difficult to absorb than those from animal products.

Flexitarians, lacto vegetarians, and lacto-ovo vegetarians can get these nutrients from dairy products, such as cheese. For those who do not consume dairy products at all can switch to soy products, seeds, and nuts.

The First Steps to Becoming a Healthy Vegetarian

If you are interested in adopting a vegetarian diet, first learn the steps to maintain a healthy body. Among others are:

1. Do it gradually

You are advised to adopt a vegetarian diet gradually, for example by not eating meat on one particular day each week. Once you get used to it, move on to the next step, which is to reduce your intake of meat, seafood, and other animal products on other days of the week.

2. Find a replacement meal

If you are used to eating meat, start replacing meat with plant food products that are no less tempting. When making soup dishes, for example, replace chicken or meat with vegetables and beans. To increase nutritional intake, serve with tempeh or fried tofu.

3. Study the vegetarian menu

If you're at your wits end or confused with interesting but still delicious food menus for a vegetarian to eat, try searching for vegetarian menus or recipes on the internet or in books.

Choose the one that suits your taste. The more types of food you consume, the more likely it is that your nutritional intake can be met.

4. Check the packaging label

Check the nutrition label on packaged products to find out whether the food you buy contains animal products or not. If you are still having trouble, try checking on the internet about the ingredients contained to find out whether there are animal products in it.

At first, you may find it difficult. However, once you get used to it, this is not a difficult thing to do.

5. Ask for a “special dish” when eating at a restaurant

Not all restaurants provide a vegetarian menu. For this reason, when eating at a restaurant, you must be careful in choosing the food ordered or requesting special treatment for the food.

For example, when ordering noodles, you can ask the restaurant not to include meat or other animal products in the food you are going to consume.

That's the information about the vegetarian diet that you need to know. You have to implement a vegetarian diet properly and make sure that the food choices you consume still meet your daily nutritional needs, especially if children are following this diet.

A vegetarian diet that is done in an inappropriate or reckless way can increase the risk of mood disorders, hair loss, and stroke. So, it's a good idea to consult a nutritionist before undergoing any type of vegetarian diet.