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By Science et Fourchette

Vegetarianism is on the rise. But when you choose to replace meat with vegetable proteins, you’re faced with a whole lot of information telling you you’re at a risk of developing a nutrient deficiency.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to adopting a vegetarian and balanced diet!

From vegetarianism to veganism

Most of the time, a vegetarian diet is associated with an exclusion of meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. However, vegetarianism can be tailored to all tastes! You can be pesco-vegetarian if you include fish and seafood in your diet, lacto-vegetarian if you consume dairy products, or lacto-ovo-vegetarian if you consume dairy products and eggs. Vegans, on the other hand, exclude all animal products, even eggs, dairy products, and honey from their diet.

An increased risk of deficiencies

There is a theoretical risk of deficiency of certain nutrients when adopting a 100% plant-based diet. We say “theoretical,” because scientists have observed that people who adopt a vegetarian diet generally have better overall health if all the nutrients are present in said diet. A balanced vegan diet can therefore cover all the nutritional needs of an adult person. However, the more vegan your diet, the more it needs to be varied and contain quality foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Get your dose of energy

It’s easy to meet your body’s energy needs through a plant-based diet. Grab a snack when you’re hungry and make sure to include nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils in your daily menu.

Get your dose of protein

Be sure to consume between 25 and 35 g of protein every meal by including vegetable protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, and plant-based alternatives to dairy products. And there’s no need to rack your brain to find ways to combine various types of vegetable proteins during a given meal; just make sure you consume a sufficient amount of calories every day.

Get your dose of vitamin B12

Get your dose of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in meat and dairy products. As soon as these two food groups are excluded from your diet, you must turn to other sources to meet your body’s needs. Great sources of B12 include nutritional yeast and fortified vegetable drinks.

Get your dose of iron

If you’re vegan, it’s important to be mindful of your iron needs. Even though statistics indicate that vegans consume almost as much iron as non-vegans, iron from plants is generally less easily absorbed by the body. Make sure to include dried beans and lentils, oatmeal, tofu, and leafy greens on your menu, all of which are more easily absorbed when combined with foods rich in vitamin C.

There are many benefits to adopting a plant-based diet. If it sounds complicated, we suggest talking to a dietitian-nutritionist, who will help you balance your diet and make the experience simple and enjoyable.