The vegan decision

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am

This week Sarah Primmer, 17

Sarah asks: I'm a vegetarian, but I'm thinking about becoming vegan. If I was to switch, what would I need to eat more of?

Wynnie says: The UK Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as being someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with or without the use of dairy products and eggs. So a vegetarian doesn't eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, crustacea, or slaughter by-products such as gelatin.

There are three different types of vegetarians:

1 Lacto-ovo-vegetarians are the most common. They eat vegetables, fruit, pulses (peas, lentils and beans) and grains (wheat, oat, rye, barley), and supplement their diet with dairy products (such as milk, cheese, cream and yoghurt) and eggs.

2 Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs.

3 Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs or any animal product, including honey.

Without any foods of animal origin, it can be hard to get enough calories and nutrients such as vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron and zinc to maintain a healthy weight for growing teens.

But it is possible. The most important rule is to eat as wide a variety of wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables as possible. To meet your vitamins B12, D and calcium requirements, look for fortified cereals, soy, rice or oat milk.

If you choose to take supplements, make sure that you don't take more than 100 per cent of the recommended daily value. Although seaweed, tempeh and miso are said to be good sources of B12, the vitamin isn't in a form the body can use.

Use this guide to plan meals:

Breakfast: Cereal/oatmeal with fruits and soy/oat/rice milk; or bagel with peanut butter and banana, soy yoghurt, pancakes and fruit smoothie

Lunch/dinner: Baked/mashed potatoes with chilli beans, tofu or tempeh; vegetable stir fry with mixed grain rice; soy burger with wholemeal bun; mushroom and nut loaf; spicy chick pea casserole; vegetable and bean biryani; lentil or beansprout salad; couscous with pine nuts and vegetables; quinoa and corn casserole

Snacks: nuts, seeds, fruits, dried fruits, raw vegetables, pretzels

Visit for information about veganism. For recipes, visit

recipes.html or invest in any of following books:

Everday Vegan: 300 Recipes for Healthful Eating by Jean Rose Aitchison

Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

La Dolce Vegan: Vegan Livin' Made Easy by Sarah Kramer

Vegan friendly shops:

Green Cottage, Lamma (Tel: 2982 6934)

Health Gate, 8/F, Hung Tak Building, 106 Des Voeux Road, Central (Tel: 2545 2286)

Sarah's food diary

Breakfast: Peanut butter sandwich, usually on whole-wheat bread.

Snack: Bag of mixed nuts, raisins and dried fruit; water

Lunch: Leftover stir-fried vegetables/cold salad with chickpeas/ beans

Dinner: Stir-fried vegetables with/without tofu; vegetable soup; vegetable curry; granola and soy milk, oatmeal

Snack: Chocolate chip cookies

Wynnie Chan is a British-trained nutritionist. If you've got a question for her or would like to be featured in this column, e-mail