Friday, April 16, 2010

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are becoming increasingly popular as evidenced by the number of vegetable-focused entrées at restaurants and “meatless Mondays,” as recently implemented in San Francisco.

The most common styles of vegetarianism include:

  • Flexitarians: consume mostly vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: consume dairy foods and eggs but no meat, poultry, or fish
  • Lacto-vegetarians: consume dairy foods only
  • Vegans: consume only plant-based foods and exclude any products coming from animals

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. View the position paper on vegetarian diets at the American Dietetic Association’s website.

Important nutrients for vegetarians and vegans include:

Calcium: Bone health; plant sources such as spinach or soybeans contain oxalates, which make calcium absorption from these foods minimal; if you’re not consuming adequate dietary calcium, you may need to take a supplement (calcium citrate w/o meals, calcium carbonate w/ meals) to meet your requirements.

Iron: Primarily functions as a carrier of oxygen in the blood; iron from plant sources is not absorbed as well as iron from meat sources; always consume iron containing foods with vitamin C, which helps convert the iron into a form more usable by the body.

Zinc: Affects metabolic rate; supports immune function; found in soy products, legumes, grains, cheese, and nuts.

Vitamin D: Bone health; fortified foods such as cow’s milk, some brands of soy milk, rice milk, and orange juice, some breakfast cereals and margarines; sun exposure.

Vitamin B12: Synthesis of red blood cells, maintenance of the nervous system; found in dairy foods, eggs, vitamin B-12-fortified foods (soy and rice beverages, some breakfast cereals and meat analogs, or Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast); otherwise a daily vitamin B-12 supplement is needed.

According to the ADA, it is important to choose a variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, regardless of the style of vegetarianism practiced.

Following a vegetarian diet might take some planning, but it is possible to consume all the nutrients that are important to health. View the guidelines and tip sheet at

Vegetarian/Vegan eating at WU: Many vegetarian and vegan options are available on campus. Try some of these options at WU Dining locations.

S40 Dining

· Vegan Soups: Pinto Bean & Cilantro, Chunky Tomato & Basil, Tortilla, Italian Vegetable with Fresh Herbs, Black Bean & Tomato

· Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara

· Salad bar with a variety of toppings

Bear Grill

· Curried Zucchini Soup

Dains Dining Hall - 1853 Diner, Delicioso, Trattoria Verde & Wash U Wok

· Black Bean Burger

· Vegetarian Miso Soup

· Vegetarian Lasagna

· Hunan Vegetable Delight

· Fajita Roasted Vegetable Salad

Ursa's, Holmes & The Village Café & Grill

· Mediterranean Quesadilla

· Eggplant, Mozzarella & Tomato Panini

· Baked Potato

· Chipotle Black Bean Burger

· Broccoli w/Peanut Vinaigrette

Menus at WU Dining Services: Check the weekly online menus for these symbols:

(LOV) = Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

(LV) = Lacto Vegetarian

(VGN) = Vegan

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