Vegetarians must balance their diet Vegetarians must balance their diet

Vegetarians must balance their diet

Trends 30 June, 2016 María Alejandra Tavera

Removing all meats from your daily diet is an option. The most important thing, however, is that you get advice from a nutritionist who can recommend substitutes to the nutrients that your body will no longer receive.

By Briana Gomez Nutritionist

It is possible to have a well-balanced vegetarian diet, and it is also a healthy choice. The challenge is to be persistent when you chose this eating style.

The process requires perseverance, discipline, time, budget and dedication. “You can substitute meat, as long as you get advice from a nutritionist. If you choose to remove all meats from your diet, they should be replaced with foods that can act as a substitute for those you are giving up on; you will need to take iron, vitamin B complex, vitamin B12 and protein”, said nutritionist Briana Gomez Ramirez, a specialist in Food Sciences. She noted that vegetarian diets must be taken on calmly, taking into consideration that the body takes time to adjust to the lack of a food group.


Take it seriously

“In the short term, the decision can bring consequences such as anemia and weakness, it all depends on the food culture. We recommended that you do not give up on meat cold turkey, but rather that you gradually reduce portion sizes until it disappears from your plate. It should be a gradual change”, added the specialist.

Legumes play a fundamental role in nutrition, as it is advisable to compensate the lack of meat by increasing your daily consumption of lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, soybeans, among others, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. You should also include other animal products in your diet, such as eggs, milk or cheese.

“When a person does not consume any foods of animal origin because they are vegan, the issue is more complex and they should consider taking vitamin B12, iron and calcium supplements. However, in either case, whether you are vegetarian or vegan, it is key that you are knowledgeable on the topic and aware of what it entails”, said the physician.

So regardless of the reason why you decided to exclude meat from your diet, remember that eating an unbalanced, uninformed and inadequate diet will generate dire consequences for your body in the long run.


There are several types of diets: an ovolactovegetarian will avoid meat, but can eat eggs and dairy products. A lactovegetarian avoids meat and eggs but will have milk, cheese and dairy products. And vegans are strict vegetarians who choose to eliminate all animal products.

What meat provides

  • Proteins: they build and repair the structures of the body.
  • Iron: takes part in the production of hemoglobin (the main component of red blood cells), contributes to the formation of muscle protein and the metabolization of certain enzymes in the body.
  • Vitamin B 12: forms red blood cells and maintains the central nervous system.
  • Zinc: keeps your mood up, provides mental clarity, repairs sleep and tissues.
  • Phosphorus: increases energy levels.

Keep in mind

  • Grain foods contain proteins, although in smaller quantities and with a lower absorption per serving compared to foods of animal origin. The quality of these proteins can improve when you combine cereals with legumes.


  • Legumes are a natural source of protein and B vitamins, and their calcium levels are comparable to those of dairy products.

The ideal lunch

  • Rice and beans (120g)
  • Mushrooms in white sauce (110g)
  • Lentil Cakes (130g)
  • Broccoli, sweet corn, peppers, cheese and nuts salad (100 g of vegetables, 30 g of cheese and 30 g of walnuts)
  • Guava juice