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Teenagers

Teenagers

What can you eat as a vegetarian? Well, how’s this for starters…

Vege burgers, sausages, rice, pasta, noodles with veges and tofu, spuds, chips, hummus, dips and crackers, pancakes, pita pockets or wraps with salads and falafel, popcorn, curries, nuts, vege pies and savouries, pizza, soups, salads, bean or tofu casserole, mezze, vege kebabs, sushi, nachos…

Vegetarian food is yum! Sometimes new foods take some getting used to, but have a little of something new everyday for 13 days and your taste buds will start to love it. True! Give it a go!

Protein

Easy! Vegetarian sources of protein include foods such as baked beans, peanut butter, hummus, falafel, soya or dairy cheese, yoghurt, milk, nuts, cereals/grains, beans, lentils, seeds (try sunflower or pumpkin), etc. Many foods contain protein. In fact, the only foods that are notably low in protein are sugar, fruit, fats and oils.

To provide the right balance of protein, eat a variety of foods to get the best mixture of amino acids. Try these delicious protein packed combos: beans on toast, refried beans and nacho chips, satay peanut sauce and rice, nut or bean burgers, falafel in pita bread. Yum!

Calcium

Bone density is determined in adolescence. So ensure at least three sources of calcium in your diet everyday. Good sources include calcium enriched soya or rice milks/yogurt/ice cream, tofu, broccoli, dark, leafy green vegetables, baked beans, hummus, figs and refried beans.

Nutrition

Eat a rainbow: make sure your meal plate has all the colours, especially green. Rainbow eating ensures variety and taste.

The iron and vitamin C connection

The best way to absorb iron on a vegetarian diet is to eat fruit with every meal. The vitamin C in fruit helps non-haem iron absorption. Excellent vegetarian sources of iron include all wholegrain cereals and breads, all dried beans and peas, broccoli, dried fruit, iron fortified soya milks and marmite. Avoid tea, coffee and cola with food as the caffeine reduces absorption.

Eat three meals a day

Teens bodies are growing at a rapid rate. It is important that as you grow you eat well and exercise regularly. Eat at least three proper meals a day to keep energy levels high and to provide the nutrients you need. Snack on fruit, hummus, crackers, wholemeal toast and marmite, nuts, popcorn, seeds, etc rather than empty junk snacks and sugary drinks.

Going vegan?

Ensure a daily B12 intake by eating marmite and B12 enriched soya and rice milks (such as ‘So Good Essential’ and ‘Rice Dream Enriched’).

Help your vitamin D levels with 20 minutes sun exposure everyday (do it before 10.00am and after 4.00pm to avoid the risk of burning).

People who don’t know much about vegetarian nutrition may tell you it’s hard to get enough nutrients on a vegetarian diet. Well, it’s hard to get enough nutrients on any diet (vegetarian or non vegetarian) if it is poorly planned. Ensure you keep to the advice above. Take responsibility for your health and show by example how well you can live on a vegetarian diet.

Being hassled about being a vegetarian? Hang in there!

Remember why you went vegetarian. You’re not trying to be difficult but sometimes living by your principles means being different from the mainstream. Non-vegetarians have blocked their natural compassion for other creatures. You might be the first person who has made them think about why they eat meat, and that can be uncomfortable.

Dining out?

Almost all restaurants offer a vegetarian choice, or you can ask for a dish to be made without the fish or meat. A good restaurant will want to accommodate you. Phoning beforehand can help, especially for a vegan meal.

Invited for dinner?

It can be frustrating to cook a meal for a guest and find out once it is made that they cannot eat it. Give dinner hosts prior notice that you are vegetarian and you could also offer to bring a dish to be extra helpful.

Remember you’re in good company

Some of the world’s best thinkers, artists and sports people are vegetarian or vegan: Betty White, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Silverman, Anna Paquin, Woody Harrelson, Milo Ventimiglia, Melanie Lynskey, Olivia Wilde, Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Shania Twain, Stella McCartney, Carl Lewis, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Socrates, Plato, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, St Francis of Assisi, Ghandi and… you!

Stay positive

There are many advantages in going veg including longer life expectancy, better health, fewer animal deaths, less wastage of water, land and the earth’s other precious resources, lower grocery bills and membership of a community of vegetarians from all around the world. We are everywhere!

Vegetarian teenagers (PDF)