3. Replacing Meat With Cheese
One of the easiest ways to make nearly any dish vegetarian is to take out the meat and replace it with cheese. When it comes to flavor, the swap works well for sandwiches, salads, pasta and many other dishes.
However, while cheese does contain a good amount of protein, vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t replace the wide assortment of nutrients found in meat.
One ounce (28 grams) of beef, for example, contains four times the amount of iron and double the zinc found in one ounce of cheddar cheese (14, 15).
Cheese also contains less protein and more calories than meat.
In fact, ounce-for-ounce, cheese contains only about 80% of the protein found in chicken, but nearly 2.5 times the calories (15, 16).
Instead of simply replacing meat with cheese, you should include a variety of plant foods in your diet to meet your nutrient needs.
Chickpeas, quinoa, tempeh, lentils, beans and nuts are all excellent options to help round out a vegetarian diet.
SUMMARY:Instead of just replacing meat with cheese, make sure to also include a diverse range of plant foods in your diet to provide important nutrients.
4. Eating Too Few Calories
Many foods and food groups are off-limits for vegans and vegetarians, which can make it challenging for them to meet their calorie needs.
In fact, vegans and vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories than people who eat both meat and plants.
One study compared the nutritional quality of 1,475 people’s diets, including vegans, vegetarians, vegetarians who ate fish, people who ate both meat and plants and people who ate meat only once a week.
Vegans had the lowest calorie intake across all the groups, consuming 600 fewer calories than people who ate both meat and plants.
Vegetarians had a slightly higher calorie intake than vegans, but still consumed 263 fewer calories than people who ate both meat and plants (17).
Calories are the main source of energy for the body, and your body needs a certain amount to function. Restricting calories too much can lead to several negative side effects, such as nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and a slower metabolism (18, 19, 20).
SUMMARY:Vegans and vegetarians tend to have a lower calorie intake than people who eat meat and plants. If you’re following either of these diets, make sure you’re meeting your calorie needs.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
Drinking enough water is important for everyone, but may be especially important for those who eat a lot of fiber, including vegetarians and vegans.
Vegetarians tend to have a higher fiber intake, since fiber-rich legumes, vegetables and whole grains are staples in a healthy vegetarian diet.
One study found that people who eat both meat and plants eat about 27 grams of fiber per day, while vegans and vegetarians eat about 41 grams and 34 grams, respectively (17).
Drinking water with fiber is important because it can help fiber move through the digestive tract and prevent issues like gas, bloating and constipation.
Fiber consumption is incredibly important for health, and has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity (21).
Current guidelines recommend women consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day, and men consume at least 38 grams (22).
To make sure you’re drinking enough water, drink when you feel thirsty, and spread your water intake throughout the day to stay hydrated.
SUMMARY:Vegans and vegetarians usually eat a lot of fiber. Drinking enough water can help prevent digestive problems associated with increased fiber intake, such as gas, bloating and constipation.