Hi Claudia, I recently met a friend that has become vegetarian. I am very curious to know how they were able to switch from eating meat to eating only vegetables on a daily basis. It seems like a healthier diet but how do vegetarians gain the same amount of nutrition as non-vegetarians? Which nutrients are lacking in a vegetarian diet and what are the common mistakes vegetarians are making with their diet? Look forward to hearing from you.
Ask a Dietitian: Is the vegetarian diet as healthy as a normal one?
Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and may aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Vegetarian diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products. This is because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.
Vegan diets may sometimes lack in vitamin B12, an essential nutrient present only in animal products. It is important for vegans to regularly consume reliable sources of vitamin B12 such as B12-fortified foods or B12-containing supplements. However, if the diet is properly planned this isn’t an issue or concern.
In Singapore, some vegetarians eat too much refined carbohydrates, such as white rice or noodles, and not enough protein. Good sources of vegetarian proteins, besides dairy products, includes tofu, tau kwa, and pulses such as lentils and kidney beans. Nuts and seeds are also suitable alternative protein sources.
Many vegetarian cuisines also add a lot of fat and deep-fried food. These dishes, besides being high in calories, are sometimes cooked in unhealthy oil. I have had several clients that overate foods that are considered healthy. Foods like nuts, avocado, and healthy oils, although rich in nutrients and having numerous health benefits, are also high in calories. Overeating them will lead to weight gain and issues associated with obesity. Moderation is a key to a healthy diet.
For more dietary content, read some of our other articles.