How To Be Sure Vegetarian Meals Don’t Lack Essential Nutrients

A lot of my friends are vegetarians. Considering that I am very much a meat eater, I sometimes have a hard time relating. However, despite my own personal tastes I understand the importance of respecting personal choices, and since I am a dietitian, especially when it comes to eating. And, some vegetarian meals are of the most delicious, healthy dishes out there.

Proteins are the body’s building blocks, and are needed for growth and repair of all cells. Unfortunately, most vegetarian foods only contain some of the essential amino acids found in protein and lack others. That’s why it’s especially important for vegetarians to have a working knowledge of which foods combine to form complete proteins.

Here, then, is a quick summary of food combinations that complement each other, and when eaten together include all the essential amino acids to form a complete protein:

  • beans + whole grains
  • vegetables + whole grains
  • nuts and seeds + whole grains
  • beans + nuts and seeds

Although the medical community has changed its opinion that these foods don’t have to be eaten together in the same meal in order have a healthy vegetarian diet, it’s very important to have a diet rich in all sorts of vegetarian foods, so as to ensure optimal health while embracing a meat-free diet.

Here’s a thought for non-vegetarian parents who have kids that are choosing to become vegetarian. While this may alarm you at first, it’s a great opportunity when kids begin making choices like this to tell them that you will actively support them in making good health and moral decisions in their lives. Also, that you’d like to learn with them how to take on their new lifestyle choice in the healthiest way possible.

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