Veggie Revolution - Welcome to our delicious vegetarian web site


Bowl of vegetables Interestingly, omnivores almost never worry about getting the right balance of nutrients in their diets. As soon as they hear that you are vegetarian, though, they will come up with some quite creative questions, such as, "Are you getting enough zinc ?" Following are some answers. Generally, vegetarians do not have to worry about getting enough of the right types of nutrients. Vegans may have to be a little more vigilant, particularly about Vitamin B12 (available in most multivitamins.) It probably is a good idea, though, to tell your doctor what you actually do eat, in case some supplement is required. Following is some information about the major nutrient sources.
Protein The question most frequently asked is actually about protein. Most omnivores have way too much protein in their diets. Too much protein can cause heart disease, colon cancer, and kidney stones. To calculate how much protein you need (in grams), multiply your weight in kg. by .8 For example a 60 kg. person (approx. 132 lb.) needs 60 x .8 = 48 grams of protein per day. Protein exists in most foods, with the notable exceptions of sugar, fats and oils. Legumes (anything from a pod) are an excellent source of protein - for example, peas, lentils, peanuts (yes, they are legumes not nuts !), chickpeas, soybeans and soy products, such as tofu. A half cup (120 ml) of tofu has approximately 20 grams and just 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of peanut butter has 12 grams - so it's not hard to get your protein ! Legumes are not the only source of protein - it is also found in nuts, grains, pasta and rice.

Iron Another myth regarding a vegetarian diet is that it will result in iron deficiency. - not so ! As with protein, legumes are a good source of iron, but it is also found in dark green vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Another way to increase iron in the diet is to use cast iron cookware.

Calcium Contrary to popular opinion, milk and other dairy products are not necessary to maintain calcium levels in your body - vegans already know this, of course. One important aspect of maintaining calcium is to minimize the loss. High protein diets (particularly animal protein) causes calcium to be lost through the urine. Salt and caffeine also increase the loss through urine. Exercise is also important to minimze calcium loss. It is found in dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli), calcium enriched soy milk, tofu, sesame seeds, dried figs.

Carbohydrates Carbs are good ! Who knew ? Carbohydrates provide a source of dietary fibre. This is important for the digestive system, helps prevent constipation, and reduces the risk of colon cancer. Good sources of carbohydrates are whole wheat bread and pasta, bread, potatoes, berries, dates, figs, and apricots.

Zinc Zinc is found in legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, green vegetables, and for ovo-lacto vegetarians in eggs and cheese.

Potassium Potassium is found in bananas, dates, prunes, beets, potatoes, green vegetables, sea vegetables, and legumes
Vitamin A- found in yellow, orange and red vegetables (such as carrots, squash, tomatoes, red peppers, spinach), also in melons, mangoes, papayas, and in dairy products
Vitamin B1- found in whole grains, beans, yeast
Vitamin B2- found in mushrooms, almond, pecans, milk, cheese, yogurt, dried apricots and prunes
Vitamin B3- found in legumes, grains, green vegetables, milk, coffee
Vitamin B6- found in beans, grains, carrots, bananas, eggs
Vitamin B12- found in dairy products and eggs, some soy milks, multi vitamins
Vitamin C- found in fresh citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes
Vitamin D- made by the body when it is exposed to sunlight, also added to some dairy products
Vitamin E- found in avocados, soy beans (and soy products), vegetable oils, nuts and eggs
Vitamin K- found in spinach, leafy greens, cauliflower
Cholesterol, Fats and Essential Fatty Acids

- the good, the bad and the urban myths

Everyone has cholesterol, even people who eat no animal products at all. Cholesterol, per se, is found only in animal products. However, our bodies can make it from saturated fat (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated plant oil.) We need some cholesterol, but as most know, too much can clog the blood vessels and cause heart attacks.

Products with saturated fat, such as margarine, are solid at room temperature. Eating some saturated fat is probably OK and for most people hard to avoid.

Monounsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature - eg. olive oil - are actually good, as they raise the "good" cholesterol. Canola, peanut oil and avocados also contain monounsaturated fat.

The jury is still out on polyunsaturated fats, but the consensus is that they are probably better than saturated fats. Corn, soybean and sunflower oil are examples of polyunsaturated fats.

Essential Fatty Acids - Omega-6 and Omega-3

Omega-6 comes from many sources, but many think that one must eat salmon for omega-3. Not so ! Just a few walnuts or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil provides a daily amount of omega-3. Also, many products are fortified with EFA's. (Check labels.)

The bottom line:
  • Try to avoid animal products and products with trans fatty acids
  • Use saturated fats in moderation
  • Use monounsaturated fats such as olive, peanut, and canola oil
  • Obtain your EFA's (omega-6 and omega-3) from walnuts, flaxseed oil or fortified products


The nutritional information has been compiled from the following sources:
  • "Veggie Revolution" (by Sally Kneidel, Ph.D. and Sara Kate Kneidel, 2005, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado
  • "Becoming Vegetarian" (by Vesanto Melina, R.D., Brenda Davis, R.D., Victoria Harrison, R.D., 1994, Macmillan Canada, Toronto)
  • "Linda's Kitchen" (by Linda McCartney, 1995, Little, Brown and Company Inc.)
  • "Great Vegetarian Food" (Australian Women's Weekly, 2001, ACP Publishing Pty Limited )
  • Web Site of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine