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Can sport and vegetarianism mix?
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Find out how you can eat a healthy vegetarian diet
People are vegetarian for all sorts of reasons.

Some people avoid meat for religious or moral reasons, some for health reasons and others because they just don't like it!

Meat contains some important nutrients, but there are many healthy, and tasty, alternatives available.

So what are they, and how easy is it to eat a healthy vegetarian diet?

We asked Sally Jordan - a sports dietician nutritionist at the English Institute of Sport - for a meat-free morsel of vegetarian chat.

What nutrients does meat contain that a vegetarian would miss out on?

Red meat is a good source of iron. Meat, fish and poultry in general are good sources of vitamin B-12 and zinc.

The other thing that animal products are good for is high quality protein. The protein in meat is better quality than protein found in plant products.

What's so special about protein and what other foods is it found in?

Proteins are the body's building blocks. They help develop muscles and body growth.

Dairy foods and eggs are a good source of protein - you can get good quality proteins from them.

If you don't eat dairy foods either you can combine the plant sources. First, there are the pulses - things like baked beans, chick peas and lentils.

These could be eaten with grains - things like wholegrain bread or wholemeal pasta.

Nuts and seeds are other fab sources of protein, so something like peanut butter on wholegrain bread would be a good mix.

And where can vegetarians replace lost iron?

Green, leafy vegetables are a good source of iron, as are some fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin C helps increase absorption from plant sources, so a glass of orange juice with your meal is also a good idea.

What would be good meal on the day of a match or sporting event?

Whether you're vegetarian or not, the most important thing on a match day is to make sure your energy stores are topped up. That would involve preparation during the week, and especially the day before.

A nice big pasta meal the night before a match is always a good idea. On the day it's the carbohydrate rather than protein levels that are most important.

Vegetarian sport
Meat free meals

Vege-tastic facts
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as "a person who eats no fish, flesh or fowl"
There are over 3m vegetarians in the United Kingdom and many more millions worldwide
It's widely recognised that a vegetarian diet can be healthier

Tips for going vege
Set your own pace - it's up to you whether to go veggie overnight or take it more slowly
Get a vegetarian cookbook - it's a great source of food ideas
Adapt meat dishes into veggie ones
Mushrooms, pulses, and grains make good substitutes for the bulk and texture of meat
Use meat substitutes, such as Quorn, soya and veggie mince
Boost your iron intake, drink a glass of orange juice (packed with Vitamin C) with meals and help your body improve its iron absorption

:: The Vegetarian Society

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