Becoming a Vegetarian

Is going GREEN healthier?

According to Beck, a plant-based diet can lower incidents of heart disease, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. She recommends a daily vitamin supplement with calcium and iron for all teens because it’s hard to get the required daily nutrients through a vegetarian diet. Here are the Top 4 vitamins and minerals that will add balance to a vegetarian’s diet:

Teens need the most of any age category and should take in 1300 milligrams per day (that’s four cups of yogurt). Calcium-rich options include almonds, leafy green vegetables and tofu.

Iron Teen girls need to ensure their iron levels are good—you’ll need 27grams/day. Since plant based iron sources such as beans, spinach, whole grains, nuts or lentils aren’t as easily absorbed by the body as meat-based iron, vegetarians require a mineral supplement.

B12 This vitamin is very important as it’s naturally only found in animal food sources. Fortified soy or rice beverages, breakfast cereal, veggie burgers or hot dogs, and enriched dairy products are good suppliers. Teens need 5–10 micrograms per day.

Omega 3 Oily fish (like salmon) are one of the best sources of this fatty acid.
If eating fish is not an option,  teens should consume walnuts, ground flax, flax seed oil and canola oil to keep brain cells healthy. Ground flax and flax oil can be added to a yummy fruit/soy milk smoothie. Using flax or canola oils in salad dressings will help the body absorb nutrients.

Learn the right combinations and enjoy the variety of the plant world!
Whether you are a vegetarian or not, try this:

Hummus and veggie wrap

4 large pitas or whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 can 19 oz/540 ml chickpeas
1/2 cup cup lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini (sesame oil can be substituted)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt & pepper

• In a food processor, puree chickpeas. Add lemon juice, tahini, parsley, olive oil, garlic cumin, salt and pepper. Blend, adding water to thin if desired. Store in air-tight container in refrigerator.
• Spread 1/2 cup of hummus inside pita or on tortilla, sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and green onion. Makes four servings.

Hummus and veggie wrap recipe, courtesy of Healthy Eating for Preteens and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Diet Nutrition and Food by Leslie Beck, RD (Penguin Canada)