Vegetarians are no less susceptible than others to malnutrition. The key, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to eat a variety of foods that ensure enough calories and proper nutrition.
The agency offers these suggestions for a healthy vegetarian diet:
- Choose plant-based protein sources such as soy, nuts, peas and beans.
- Get plenty of calcium through leafy, dark-green vegetables, calcium-fortified foods and dairy products.
- Make peas and beans important staples of your diet, and make nuts a regular snack food.
- Get plenty of vitamin B12 -- found naturally only in animal products -- by choosing fortified foods, such as cereals or soy products.
Health Tip: Watch for Lactose in Foods
Lactose intolerant people may be primed to avoid milk, sparing themselves uncomfortable symptoms of bloating, gas or stomach cramps.
But lactose may be an ingredient in many foods, in addition to milk. The womenshealth.gov website offers this list of possible examples:
- Ice cream, sherbet, cream, butter, some cheeses and yogurt.
- Baked goods, such as breads and cereals.
- Cake, cookie, pancake and biscuit mixes.
- Prepared soups, breakfast drinks and instant mashed potatoes.
- Salad dressings.
- Lunch meats, and prepared and frozen meals.