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Hi my name is zac, i've decided to become a vegetarian after hearing peter singers arguments for animal rights, im 16, studying, growing still and try to stay active, i would appereciate knowing if their could be any disadvantages to be becommming a vegetarian such as an impact on my growth, oh and i would also like to ask what basic foods i should be eating, however i can not eat lentils so is their a way to get around that nutrition part of my diet by eating mostly fruits and basic vegetables, my parents suggested i should take iron tablets, is their any other types of tablets i need to take?

thanks, zac.
 

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Hi Zac, welcome to Veggieboards and congratulations on becoming a vegetarian!


Going vegetarian definitely won't stunt your growth (as long as you are eating fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods and not just living on cheese pizza and ice cream of course
) and there are a lot of other great places to get things like protein and iron besides lentils. A supplement like iron tablets wouldn't hurt, but if you're eating well you shouldn't have to worry about it too much.

Here's a nice overview on nutrition for teens by the Vegetarian Resource Group, they have lots of great info: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/teennutrition.htm

Quote:
Variety is the Key to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Probably the most frequent questions for teenage vegetarians are about the nutritional adequacy of their food choices. A vegetarian diet can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet is variety. Just as your parents should be concerned if you only eat hamburgers, they should also worry if you only eat potato chips and salad. A healthy, varied vegetarian diet includes fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds and legumes. Some vegetarians also choose to eat dairy products and/or eggs.
Teenage vegetarians have nutritional needs that are the same as any other teenager. The years between 13 and 19 are times of especially rapid growth and change. Nutritional needs are high during these years. The nutrients you will probably be asked about the most are protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.

What About Protein?


North American vegetarian teens eating varied diets rarely have any difficulty getting enough protein as long as their diet contains enough energy (calories) to support growth. Cow's milk and lowfat cheese are protein sources; however, beans, breads, cereals, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, and soy milk are also some foods that are especially good sources of protein. Only fruits, fats, and alcohol do not provide much protein, and so a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of being too low in protein.
It is not necessary to plan combinations of foods to obtain enough protein or amino acids (components of protein). A mixture of plant proteins eaten throughout the day will provide enough essential amino acids.

Other Important Nutrients for Vegetarian Teenagers


Especially during adolescence, calcium is used to build bones. Bone density is determined in adolescence and young adulthood; so it is important to include three or more good sources of calcium in your diet every day. Cow's milk and dairy products do contain calcium. However, there are other good sources of calcium such as tofu processed with calcium sulfate, green leafy vegetables including collard greens, mustard greens, and kale, and calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice.
Iron requirements of teenagers are relatively high. By eating a varied diet, a vegetarian can meet his or her iron needs, while avoiding the excess fat and cholesterol found in red meats such as beef or pork. To increase the amount of iron absorbed from a meal, eat a food containing vitamin C as part of the meal. Citrus fruits and juices (for example, orange juice), tomatoes, and broccoli are all good sources of vitamin C. Foods which are high in iron include broccoli, raisins, watermelon, spinach, black-eyed peas, blackstrap molasses, chickpeas, and pinto beans.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin which only vegans (vegetarians eating no dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and birds) need to add to their diet. Some cereals and fortified soy milks have vitamin B12 (check the label). Red Star T-6635 nutritional yeast flakes (Vegetarian Support Formula) also supply vitamin B12.
Hope that helps
 
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