Vegetarian and vegan diets have proven health benefits for people of all ages and circumstances. However, it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods and remember that each type of food has different vitamins and minerals. The more you restrict what you eat, the greater your risk of missing out on essential nutrients.
Well-balanced vegetarian and vegan diets based on a wide range of acceptable food types can support good health and help to protect against disease. Vegetables – especially the dark green, leafy varieties – and brightly coloured fruits provide plenty of vitamins and minerals, vital to maintain good health. Beans and peas, lentils, nuts and seeds, wholegrain foods and vegetable oils all have an important role to play.
Treatment for bowel cancer can sometimes change your ability to digest very high fibre foods – especially vegetables, beans and nuts. If this is the case for you, you should discuss your individual dietary needs with a dietitian to make sure you are getting all the vital nutrients, using supplements if needed.
Alternative sources of protein are important for vegetarians and vegans, who exclude all meat and fish from their diet. Vegetarian foods which contain protein are:
Vegans can sometimes lack vitamin B12, which the body uses (along with folate) to produce normal red blood cells and keep the nervous system healthy. Vitamin B12 can be taken as a supplement or in fortified foods such as cereals and soya milk.
Further information is available from: