How to be a healthy vegetarian or vegan

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If you build your meals around a variety of foods, including fruit and vegetables, grains and products made from them (e.g. rice, bread, pasta), dried beans and lentils, nuts and/or seeds, a little healthy oil, with or without dairy produce, you will be healthy and you will get all the nutrients you need.

Here’s how this might work out over a day. You don’t need to keep to this plan rigidly; if your diet generally follows these guidelines, you’ll be doing fine.

Note that ‘a portion’ is, for example, a slice of bread, an apple, a glass of milk or two tablespoons of cooked beans or grains. A typical serving at a meal might well consist of more than one portion.

Fruit and vegetables

5 portions daily at least, even 7 or 10 – the more the better.

  • East fresh, frozen, juiced, canned or dried fruit and vegetables for fibre, vitamins and minerals. Try and have a good serving of dark green leafy vegetables as often as possible – they’re so full of rich nutrients.

Alternatives to meat and fish

2–3 portions daily.

  • Include a wide variety of beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, soya or wheat protein ‘meats’ and tofu for protein, minerals and vitamins.

Milk and soya milk products

2–3 portions daily.

  • These can be cows' milk and products, or soya milk and yogurt or other non-dairy milks such as oat milk, rice milk or almonds milk.

Bread, cereals, potatoes

5 portions daily.

  • Try to use the wholegrain versions as often as possible and try some of the more unusual and nutritious grains such as millet, buckwheat and quinoa: see the Recipes section for a delicious millet recipe: Avocado, Millet and Peppery Leaves.

Essential fat

  • Try to include 1 heaped tablespoonful of finely ground linseeds (flaxseed) or 1–2 tablespoons flaxseed oil every day, plus a few walnuts and walnut oil often.

Foods containing sugar

  • Try to eat these sparingly as exceptional treats and not as part of your everyday diet.

For some delicious and healthy meal ideas, visit the Recipes pages.
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