Teenage is a period of life where one is on their way to adulthood and notices various changes in their body. Planning the diet of teens is very important as they have to get all essential nutrients in the important phase of growth.
Vegetarian teens do not depend on any animal foods for nutrients, indicating that different types of vegetables rich in diverse nutrients have to be included in their diet.
What Are The Nutrients Important For Teenagers?
Vegetarians have to ensure that avoiding animal products does not cause nutrient deficiencies. Eating the right vegetarian foods can make up for the nutrients that you do not get as you avoid non-vegetarian foods. Their diet should contain iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc, all mostly present in animal foods in adequate levels. Eating a variety of peas, lentils, beans, nuts, soy products and milk help vegans meet their protein requirements.
The sources of some key nutrients and minerals are given below.
Major plant sources of iron include:
- Whole grains
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dried fruits
Eating vitamin C rich foods is important to increase the absorption of iron in our body. Citrus fruits, tomato, green and red peppers, broccoli, sweet and white potatoes are rich sources of vitamin C.
Calcium And Vitamin D
Drinking at least two cups of milk or soy beverages every day can ensure that you get enough calcium. Calcium can also be obtained from non-dairy sources like tofu, broccoli, almonds, almond butter, kale, and more. Vegetarians who avoid milk and soy beverages might eat vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Vitamin B12 is found in most animal foods like eggs and milk. If you are on a vegetarian diet, you should eat vitamin B12 fortified foods like fortified soy milk, fortified cereals and fortified vegan meats. You can also take vitamin B12 supplements.
Beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, milk, yogurt and cheese are sources of zinc for vegetarians.
Planning The Vegetarian Meals For Teens Between 14 And 18
The only difference between the eating patterns of vegetarian teenagers and non-vegetarian teenagers is the types of foods they eat. Here is a food guide for vegetarian teens.
- Fruits and vegetables: Males will require 8 servings per day while 7 servings per day will be enough for females.
- Milk and alternatives: 3 to 4 servings every day for males and females
- Grain products: Males will require 7 servings per day while females require 6 servings per day
Appropriate meal planning is important to satisfy the hunger associated with growth spurts and high activity levels during teenage.