Vegetarians. Cheese.Go to Foods and Those to Avoid.
Some people avoid pulses through fear that they’ll make them bloated or gassy. The types of carbohydrate in pulses can certainly have this effect when you start eating more of them, but as your gut bacteria gradually adapt to a veggie style of eating, your body will usually start to cope better with them and these side-effects are generally short-lived.
Nuts can be great providers of a range of nutrients, with almonds being particularly noteworthy for vitamin E and calcium, cashews being especially helpful for iron and brazil nuts for selenium. When it comes to omega-3s, walnuts are among the best, but, as with all plant sources of this essential fatty acid, it’s in the so-called ‘short-chain’ form called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. The problem with ALA is that it needs to be converted in our bodies into the ‘long chain’ form known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for the most health benefits – and this conversion happens slowly and only in small amounts. To optimise omega-3 from plant sources, limit foods high in sugar and saturated fat, alcohol, and caffeine, as these limit absorption. You may want to take a supplement if you feel your intakes are low.
QUORN and TOFU
These two are a great source of protein and come in many guises. Tofu is made from soya beans and provides 8g protein per 100g. Buy it either in its firm version (used in stir-fries and curries) or silken (used for sauces). It has a bland taste that takes on the flavors of your dish, or you can buy smoked pieces flavored with herbs or chili – but check these don’t have high levels of salt or sugars. It’s also made into a long list of products, from sushi to sausages. Quorn is derived from a fungus and has 14g protein per 100g. It now carries the Vegan Society trademark and can be bought in many forms, including burgers, nuggets, fillets, mince and even ‘fish’ fingers.
We tend to be aware that cheese can be high in both total and saturated fats and therefore calories. However, it’s worth remembering it can also be high in salt. A 30g (matchbox-size) portion of cheddar has 0.5g salt, while 30g stilton and 100g cottage cheese both provide 0.6g, making them all qualify for a red traffic light symbol. Ricotta is a lower-salt choice, with 0.3g per 100g, which gives it a green traffic light for salt. But there’s no need to fear cheese, which adds valuable protein and calcium to a vegetarian diet. Just keep portion sizes in check and include other protein sources in your diet, too.