Vegetarian and vegan diets

Lacto-ovo vegetarians

Avoid: Meat, poultry, fish and meat derived products (e.g. gelatine)

Eat: Dairy products  (milk, cheese etc.) and eggs

Lacto-vegetarians

Avoid: Meat, poultry, fish, meat derived products (e.g. gelatine) and eggs

Eat: Dairy products (milk, cheese etc.)

Ovo-vegetarians

Avoid: Meat, poultry, fish, meat derived products (e.g. gelatine) and dairy products (milk, cheese etc.)

Eat: Eggs

Vegans

Avoid: Meat, poultry, fish, meat derived products (e.g. gelatine), dairy products (milk, cheese etc.) and eggs

Healthy eating

Both vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy and well balanced. As some food groups are excluded, you need to make sure you pay special attention to nutrients you might be missing out on

When meat, poultry and fish are excluded, you need to make sure you are getting the following nutrients from other sources

  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Omega-3 fats (from oily fish)

When dairy and eggs are also excluded in a vegan diet, you need to focus on:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B12

Protein for vegetarians and vegans

Proteins are made up of “building blocks” called amino acids. Animal products contain a balance of amino acids, forming a complete protein, whereas plant products tend to be deficient in some of these, forming incomplete proteins.

When plant products are the main source of protein, it is important to eat a variety to make sure you are getting the essential amino acids. For example, baked beans on wholemeal toast provide all of the amino acids to make up a complete protein.

Vegetarian and vegan protein sources

  • Pulses such as lentils, beans and chick peas
  • Soya products such as tofu, soya milk and yogurts
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Grains such as wheat, barley, oats, rice and quinoa
  • Mycoprotein such as QuornTM products

Additional vegetarian sources of protein

  • Dairy products such as, milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Eggs

Omega 3 fats

Omega 3 fats are mainly found in oily fish, so if this isn’t included in your vegetarian or vegan diet, there are alternative sources you can include in order to meet your body’s needs:

  • Oils such as linseed, rapeseed and soya oil
  • Walnuts and pumpkin seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and spring greens.
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Cod liver and fish oil supplements

Tip box:

Your body cannot use the omega 3 from plants as efficiently as that from fish sources. So, to meet your body’s needs, include plant sources daily in your diet.

Calcium

In a vegetarian diet, sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. In a vegan diet, where these products are excluded, there are alternative sources you can use to meet your body's needs:

  • Soya products such as tofu, soya milk and yogurts
  • Dried figs
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts (especially almonds) and seeds

Tip box:

To help our body absorb calcium, we also need vitamin D, which is not found in plant foods. Most vitamin D is made in the body, but there are also food sources that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans:

  • Eggs
  • Fortified breakfast cereals (usually also suitable for vegans)

Iron

Iron is important to keep our blood healthy and also to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Vegan and vegetarian sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Wholemeal bread and fortified breakfast cereals
  • Dried fruit (especially apricots)
  • Pulses such as lentils, beans and chick peas

Did you know…?

Iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed as that from animal sources, but vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron.

So, aim to consume foods containing vitamin C with those that contain iron. For example, drink fruit juice with breakfast cereal, or squeeze fresh lemon juice over leafy green vegetables and salads.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is primarily found in red meat, but it can still be incorporated into vegetarian and vegan diets by including:

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Yeast extract, for example MarmiteTM
  • Fortified cereals

How can Waitrose help?

At Waitrose, we aim to offer our customers a wide a choice of food to suit their dietary requirements. We are broadening our range of vegetarian and vegan products, as well as labelling foods that are not obviously vegetarian with a vegetarian logo.

We provide product lists free-from particular allergens and suitable for special diets, such as vegan and vegetarian. These are updated regularly to help you with your shopping. Click here to download your copy.

For more information

The Waitrose Nutrition team offers guidance on diet and healthy eating. Visit our Ask the Nutritionist page to view previously answered questions, or to submit your own. 

Alternatively, you can write to us at: Nutrition, Waitrose Limited, Doncastle Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YA
Tel: 0800 188884
Email: customersupport@waitrose.co.uk

NHS Choices
To find out more about healthy eating for vegetarians and vegans, you can visit the NHS Choices website.

The Vegetarian Society
www.vegsoc.org (This link will open a new window)

The Vegan Society
www.vegansociety.com (This link will open a new window)