Eating Right as a Vegetarian College Student

Photo by Jason Briscoe from Unsplash.

Being a vegetarian can be quite difficult, especially as a college student. Vegetarians can sometimes lack a lot of important vitamins that they would otherwise get if they were on a meat diet. However, these issues can be heightened when they are trying to stay on a budget while also eating all their nutrients.

One important nutrient a lot of vegetarians lack is B12. Lacking this vitamin can cause muscle and nerve problems. People who are struggling to get their B12 intake can reach it by simply eating some dairy. Any type of dairy product has enough B12 to suffice a vegetarian’s needs when consumed daily.

Another nutrient they might be missing is calcium. Calcium is often overlooked because it is so common, but in reality, a lot of vegetarians do not consume their daily need of calcium. Just like B12, calcium can also be acquired through dairy, as well as green vegetables. Some examples include milk, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, spinach, lettuce and kale.

However, one of the more important nutrients that can be missing is zinc. Zinc is important for a healthy immune system. To acquire zinc as a vegetarian, some options may be mushrooms, lentils, split peas, wheat germs and legumes. 

Another essential nutrient often missing in a vegetarian’s diet is protein. Protein is especially hard because it is found mostly in meat, and is not as easily found in high quantities in vegetables. However, some amazing vegetarian sources of protein include tofu, lentils, beans, green peas, soy milk and quinoa. 

Another nutrient is omega-3. Omega-3 is most commonly found in fish and other meat options and is harder to find in plants. However, even though vegetarians won’t be able to get the most omega-3 in one serving, some options for plant-based omega-3 sources include walnuts, chia or flax seeds, canola oil and cereals.

And finally, one of the more important nutrients that might be missing is iron. Women are often found to be lacking iron, but it can happen to men too, especially if they are vegetarian. As a vegetarian, doctors will often recommend iron supplements as a way to get in your iron intake for the time period, but there are actually some great plant-based sources as well. Some good sources of iron include nuts, dried fruits, beans, lentils and spinach.

Now all these options separated may not sound delicious at all. But some options for vegetarian meals that have all the nutrients you need are:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, low-fat yogurt (Greek yogurt), scrambled eggs, breakfast sandwich with eggs, cottage cheese breakfast bowls, and yogurt parfaits.
  • Lunch: vegetable sandwich, chickpea spinach salad, quinoa salad, kale cesar salad, mango curry and Thai green curry. 
  • Dinner: Vegetarian enchiladas, veggie lasagna, red pepper and tomato soup, Egyptian egg salad, Indian chickpeas with poached eggs and roasted vegetables and lentils. 

Hopefully some of these food options will help out a busy college student to get their nutrients and stay on top of not only their food game but also their school one!

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