I have been a vegetarian for about 6 weeks and it is therefore high time to tell you all what it means. Basically if you are a vegetarian, you cannot eat any meat, shellfish and sometimes fish( I have decided to eat fish for now) or glycerin( in jelly and gummi sweets and marshmallows) and you cannot buy any leather. So you need to make a few lifestyle changes.You cannot continue your normal diet and just leave out the meat. Because you body needs the nutrients in the meat to function,, so you need to eat other foods to replace theses nutrients.Lets have a little look at at what nutrients you need, why you need them, where to get and how much of it to eat.
Carbs: This stuff gives you energy and heps in bone/cartilage/nerve building and general body maintenance. Sources of carbohydrates are potatoes, root veg,bread,grains, pulses, whole grains,cereal, pasta, rice, noodles, fruit, oats,lentils, fruit, dried fruit, some dairy(such as milk), nuts, seeds and mushrooms. Should be a third of your daily diet.
Fruit and Vegetables: Prevents diseases,boost immune system, good for hair, skin, bone strength and is packed with vital vitamins, minerals, fibre, calcium, zinc and potassium.Every fruit will contain some of these, so just make sure you eat about 6 pieces of fruit or veg per day.
Milk and Dairy(calcium): Strengthens bones and teeth, contains lots of calcium, nutrients and minerals. Everything dairy so milk, cheese, yogurt, soy milk,soy beans, leafy green veg, sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, tofu, bread, oats, watercress, dried apricots,figs, brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans.Eat about 2 portions per day.
Protein: Growth, muscular repair,metabolism( essentials for growing and maintaining health).Complete protein found in quinea, egg whites, soy beans, soy protein. Incomplete protein(which has to be combined with another food group to release proteins) in dried/tinned beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds,couscous, bulgur, wheat, whole grains, cereal, eggs,baked beans,yogurt, hummus, milk, cheese, broccoli, beans sprouts, peas, seaweed, sweet potato, dried apricots, avacado and miso. Eat 2-3 portions a day.
Fat: Essentials foe maintaning the body's processes- energy,activating vitamins and insulation. Can be found in butter, vegtable spread, soy milk/spread/oils. Cheese, cream, olive, rapeseed, sunflower oils and avacado. Eat 2 portions a day.
Iron: Low-iron diets can cause anaemia( its hard to focus, you feel and look flaky, no energy). Iron needs to be aeten with Vitamin C , so your body can absorb it. Vitamin C in orange/juice, kiwi, strawberry, potato, cabbage, broccoli, tomato, melon, asparagus, peppers, mago and black berries.Iron in Nuts, seeds, raisins, eggs, spinach, kidney,beans, chickpeas, black treacle, lentils,peanut butter, hummus, wholemeal flour, watercress, broccoli, spring beans, okra, spinach, breads and olives. Eat 2 portions a day.
Selenium: Boosts your immune system. In nuts(2 brazilnuts a day would cover it), wholemeal bread, eggs and brown rice. Eat daily.
Vitamin B12: Needed for nervous system and to keep blood healthy.Can be found in Eggs,dairy products, Vegemite, Marmite, soy milk, veg and sunflower seeds. Eat daily.
So there you go , that is a basic outline of what you can eat. If you want me to, I will create another post with some recipies and ideas on how to get all these foods into your diet.