(WGHP) — Is becoming a vegetarian sustainable for long term health?

Macie Dieckman, a registered dietitian with Novant Health Oncology Nutrition Services, offers some considerations to make before moving to a plant-based diet.

Talking points:

  • Being a vegetarian/vegan is not necessary for weight loss or health
  • People choose to follow these eating patterns for a variety of reasons (Ex. Ethical, religious, cultural, taste preference)
  • A vegetarian does not eat animal protein (some people may choose to consume dairy or eggs)
  • A vegan diet does not include any animal products and will not include any ingredients originally sourced from an animal.

Things to consider:

  • Vegetarian sources of iron are less bioavailable (less readily absorbed)
  • Plant sources high in iron include dark leafy greens like spinach and beans and lentils, tempeh, and tofu
  • Vegetarian diets are typically higher in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron in a meal
  • If you are trying to build muscle, you need to be more intentional about getting enough protein
  • Some vegetarian sources of protein include: dairy, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts and seeds
  • When you eliminate all animal products on a vegan diet, it can be difficult to get enough B12
  • You may need to supplement or look for foods fortified with B12 when following a vegan diet, check with your physician.