Meet your protein and calcium needs as a lacto vegetarian
As a lacto-vegetarian, you have chosen to follow a plant-based diet that includes dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. While this diet can provide many nutritional benefits, it is important to make sure you meet your protein and calcium needs.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a critical role in building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and supporting the immune system. As a lacto-vegetarian, you can meet your protein needs by incorporating a variety of plant sources such as:
- Vegetables (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia seeds)
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats)
- Soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame)
It is important that you consume a combination of these plant proteins throughout the day to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. For example, combining beans with rice or peanut butter with whole-grain bread can create a complete source of protein.
Calcium is a vital mineral essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as supporting muscle function and nerve transmission. Since dairy products are a major source of calcium, including them in your vegetarian diet can help you meet your calcium needs.
Some calcium-rich dairy options include:
In addition to dairy products, there are also plenty of plant-based sources of calcium that you can incorporate into your diet, such as:
- Dark leafy greens (kohlrabi, collard greens, spinach)
- Fortified plant milk (soy milk, almond milk)
- Tofu made with calcium sulfate
- Fortified orange juice
It’s important to pay attention to the amount of calcium you consume and aim to meet the recommended daily intake, which is about 1,000 mg for adults. If you are unable to meet your calcium needs through diet alone, you may consider taking calcium supplements to ensure you get enough of this essential mineral.
Meal plan template
Here is a sample meal plan to help you meet your protein and calcium needs as a lacto-vegetarian:
Yogurt parfait with granola and mixed berries
Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing
Almond butter and whole grain crackers
Grilled tofu with steamed broccoli and brown rice
Cabbage chips with a side of hummus
By including a variety of protein- and calcium-rich foods in your meals and snacks, you can ensure you meet your nutritional needs as a vegan.
Meeting your protein and calcium needs as a lacto-vegetarian is entirely achievable with careful planning and a balanced diet. By incorporating a variety of plant sources of protein and calcium into your meals, you can ensure you get all the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive.
Remember to pay attention to your overall nutritional intake and consult a health care professional or registered dietitian if you have any concerns about meeting your nutritional needs on a vegan or vegetarian diet.