Something for Everyone

by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT Young or old, Olympic athlete or couch potato, a well-planned vegetarian diet will give your body the fuel it needs to thrive.


A veg diet is appropriate for all populations across the lifespan, including pregnant women. A pregnant woman needs to be mindful of healthy weight gain (a total average of 25–35 pounds), as well as of her nutrient intake, since nutrient needs increase at this time. Ensure adequate consumption of a wide variety of whole plant foods: protein via beans, lentils, peas, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and leafy greens; omega-3 fats for brain development from flax/hemp/chia seeds, walnuts, soy products, and leafy greens; and iron from iron-rich foods (beans, leafy greens, sea vegetables, lentils, and tahini) together with vitamin C-rich foods (fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and kale).

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One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is a varied, whole foods, plant-based diet from the start. Encourage kids to eat a diverse selection of whole fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds (and a vitamin B12 supplement) through role modeling, consistently providing healthy options, and maintaining many tasty choices in the home. The greatest challenge is dealing with social situations—school, parties, sporting events, etc.—so be sure to prepare in advance for these occasions.

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Because of the high oxygen and recovery demands of training and performance, athletes place themselves at an advantage by emphasizing a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. With sufficient calories to maintain energy needs and lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, a veg diet is ideal for athletes.

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