Don’t miss out on essential nutrients by cutting out meat. Here’s what you need and how to get it

 

Iron

The main source of iron in the UK is red meat, so you need to plan your vegetarian diet properly to make sure you’re not missing out. The plant form of iron (non-haem) is more difficult for your body to absorb, but eating them with foods rich in vitamin C helps.

Good sources of iron:
• Eggs
• Dark green leafy veg
• Pulses
• Wholegrain bread
• Fortified cereals
• Dried fruit

Protein

The body requires eight essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) for growth and repair. If you continue to eat dairy and eggs, it’s easy to get enough good quality protein in your meat-free diet. But if you eat a vegan diet, avoiding all animal foods, you’ll need to combine a range of plant proteins to ensure you get all the essential amino acids you need for good health.

Good sources of protein:
• Eggs
• Low-fat dairy
• Soya
• Nuts and seeds
• Pulses
• Tofu
• Quorn
• Grains

Omega-3

A vegetarian diet can comfortably provide enough omega-6 fats (from seed and nut oils), but getting enough omega-3 essential fatty acids can be a challenge as oily fish is the main provider of long-chain omega-3 fats – the type linked to health benefits.

Good sources of omega-3:
• Eggs
• Soya
• Nuts (particularly walnuts)
• Seeds (particularly flaxseeds and their oil)

Zinc

This nutrient plays an important role in a range of metabolic processes – it’s an antioxidant and is essential for a healthy immune system. Zinc intake is closely linked to protein intake (it’s concentrated in meat, fish and chicken) so it needs to be carefully managed.

Good sources of zinc:
• Low-fat dairy
• Pulses
• Wholegrains
• Nuts and seeds

Vitamin B12

This nutrient is mainly found in animal products. Look for foods fortified with B12 and consider a daily supplement.

Good sources of vitamin B12:
• Low-fat dairy
• Eggs
• Fortified cereals
• Soya products

*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.