Monday, 25 February 2013

Basic Vegetarian Diet

I think that everyone, at some point or another, has seen Canada's Food Guide.  This guide is an outline for the recommended daily intake of each food group.  The idea is to follow the recommendations in order to live a healthy life.

For vegetarians, this food guide needs to be altered just slightly.  Since vegetarians will not be consuming anything in the meat category some substitutions must be made. 

Many people assume that if you don’t eat meat you must eat a lot more fish (in some cases), eggs, cheese and carbohydrates.  This is not necessarily true.  Vegetarians must properly substitute meat with foods that will provide their bodies with similar nutrients.

A proper, balanced vegetarian diet is broken down as follows:
Whole grains and potatoes:
6 – 11 servings per day
1 serving = 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of cereal, rice or pasta, 1 medium potato

Fruit and vegetables: 
5 or more servings per day
1 serving = 1 medium apple, banana or orange, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 2 or more heaping spoonfuls of cooked vegetables

Legumes, nuts and seeds: 
2 – 3 servings per day
1 serving = a small handful of nuts and seeds, ½ cup cooked beans, 15g serving of tofu

Dairy and dairy alternatives: 
2 – 3 servings per day
1 serving = 1 egg, a small slice of cheese, a small container of yogurt, a small glass of milk

Fats, sweets and snacks: eat sparingly

The basic vegetarian diet should contain a variety of foods from each of the above mentioned groups.  The best way to be healthy is to consume nutrient rich foods that your body can use, as opposed to calorie laden foods that have little to no dietary benefits. 

Source: Graimes, Nicola. 330 Vegetarian Recipes for Health. London: Hermes House, 2010. Print.

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