Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of all meat and animal derived products . Some vegetarians will eat eat eggs or dairy products.
There are many reasons why people decide to become vegetarians. Some make the decision based on personal beliefs such as the belief in not doing harm to animals , others choose not to eat meat in an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle and to reduce their intake of fatty foods. Some avoid animal products as they have a medical problem and believe a vegetarian diet can help them whatever the reason a vegetarian diet can be healthy and meet all of the basic nutrient needs. But it has to be well balanced and included a wide variety of different foods.
Vegetarians need to eat a balanced diet which includes fruit, whole grain foods, fresh vegetables including leafy green plants to get adequate vitamins and minerals. They also need to eat a variety of nuts, legumes and different types of seeds to ensure they get enough protein and amino acids which are essential for good health. A source of good healthy fats is also essential for good physical and mental health and these can be found by eating things like olives, avocados and some types of nuts and seeds.
I Have put a basic list below of different foods and the nutrients and benifiacial protiens and minerals they provide.
Protien: Foods such as nuts, seeds, tofu, peas, lentils, beans, whole grain breads, whole potatoes and corn can provide a source of protein.
Iron: Baked potatoes, cashews, dried beans, spinach, dried fruit, oats, tofu and iron fortified breakfast cereals are some of the basic sources of iron for vegetarians. It is also recommended that they should also consume these foods in combination with foods containing vitamin c like citrus fruits, tomatoes and other fruits high in this vitamin to help absorb the iron needed.
Calcium: This mineral is found in foods such as kale, mustard seeds, fortified soy milk and products, fortified orange juice, collard and some other leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin B12: This is an essential nutrient that is mostly found in meat products but can be found in some plant sources such as fortified cereals and breads, yeast, fortified soy milks. For those who do not consume eggs or any type of dairy products then you should possibly think about using a non- animal derived source of supplement for this vitamin and some other essential vitamins.
Omega-3: These fatty acids are commonly found in fish and our bodies also produce them for other foods we eat. We need to eat food that is high in alpha-linolenic acid. This can be found in foods such as flaxseeds, tofu, soybeans, walnuts, and supplements that have been fortified from microalgae.
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol: Most vegetables do not have much of these types of fats but some foods such as coconuts and palm oil are high in these and if consumed in large quantities can cause higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.