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In general, a vegetarian diet is a diet that doesn't include meat. But there are several kinds of vegetarian diets.
This type of diet includes milk products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt) and eggs. But it doesn't include meat, poultry, seafood, or fish. "Lacto" means milk. "Ovo" means eggs.
It includes milk products but no eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or fish.
It's a diet of only plant foods. This means no milk products, eggs, honey, or gelatin. (Gelatin comes from bones and other animal tissue.)
Many people follow a semi-vegetarian diet. Most of their diet is vegetarian. But sometimes they may eat meat, poultry, seafood, fish, and/or eggs.
People may choose a vegetarian or vegan diet for various reasons. For example:
A vegetarian diet can meet all your nutritional needs. A healthy vegetarian diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It limits added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
As long as you eat a variety of foods, there are only a few things you need to pay special attention to.
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is important to keep bones strong. Foods that have calcium include certain legumes, certain leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and tofu. Look for fortified soy beverage and orange juice.
Getting enough iron isn't a problem if you eat a wide variety of food. Vegetarian iron sources include cooked dried beans, peas, and lentils; leafy green vegetables; and iron-fortified grain products. Eating foods rich in vitamin C will help your body absorb iron.
Vitamin B12 comes from animal sources only. This includes dairy products and eggs. You can also eat foods that are fortified with this vitamin (such as soy beverage).
Plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are seeds (flax, chia, camelina, canola, and hemp), and their oils.
You can also take supplements to get all the vitamins and minerals listed above.
Make sure that you get enough protein, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron while you are pregnant and breastfeeding. These are vital to your baby's health.
You might want to see a registered dietitian to be sure that you're eating a balanced diet. This can be even more important if you plan to eat a strict vegetarian diet. You may need to take a natural health product.
Protein is made of building blocks called amino acids. The human body can make some of these amino acids. But you must get the nine essential amino acids from food.
Protein isn't just found in meat. Other sources include cheese, milk, beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Instead of eating 30 grams (1 ounce) of meat, you can eat:
You can get more protein in your food by adding high-protein ingredients. For example, you can:
You can also:
You can also buy protein bars, drinks, and powders. Check the nutrition label for the amount of protein in each serving.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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