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Vegetarian Basics

Young people will understand the different types of vegetarian diets and the nutrients that are important to be aware of when following a vegetarian diet.

Ages

9-14 Years Old

Duration

30 Minutes

What You Need

Resources

Healthy Families Newsletter

English (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

To find out how this lesson fits Physical Education and Health Education standards click here.

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand healthful ways to follow vegetarian diets by researching the different types and how to get enough nutrients while following each one.

Introduction

Ask the youth:

  • Has anyone has heard of vegetarian diets?
  • Do you know of anyone or do you follow a vegetarian diet?
  • What do you think it means to be a vegetarian?

Explain that a vegetarian diet is one way of meeting an individual’s nutritional needs. A person may follow a vegetarian diet for cultural, ethical, environmental or health reasons.

Activity: All About Vegetarian Diets

Introduce young people to the different kinds of vegetarian diets in the Vegetarian Online Learning Activity. Young people may explore the lesson independently on computers or mobile devices, or it can be projected on the classroom’s SMART or Promethean Board.

Review the 4 types of vegetarian diets listed in the presentation.

  1. Strict Vegetarian or Vegan: This diet includes only plant-based foods. It doesn’t include any kind of animal food sources, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
  2. Lacto-vegetarian: This diet includes all plant-based foods and dairy products. It doesn’t include meat, fish or eggs.
  3. Lacto-ovo Vegetarian: This diet includes all plant-based foods, dairy products and eggs. It doesn’t include meat and fish.
  4. Flexitarian: This diet includes mostly plant-based foods and occasionally includes eggs, fish, dairy products and meats.

Conclude that there are many different types of vegetarian eating styles. One is not necessarily better than the other and all can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Explain that if a person chooses not to eat a certain type of food or food group, he or she may not get the right amount of some nutrients. Some of these nutrients include calories, protein, and calcium, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc and Vitamin B12.

Activity: Vegetarian Nutrition Research

Have the young people research one type of vegetarian diet and create a poster board and the nutrients that may be missing from that diet. Have them include what food sources may be included instead that would provide the nutrients they need. Each poster should include the following:

  • The name of the type of vegetarian diet
  • Nutrients that may be missing or hard to get from this diet
  • Pictures of allowed food sources to meet those nutrient needs.

Invite each young person or group to present their project to the class.

Conclusion

Remind young people that it is possible to be healthy while following a vegetarian diet if you know about healthful sources of protein, calcium, and Vitamins D and B12. Young people considering vegetarian diets should refer to MyPlate’s Information for Vegetarians to get more information.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, with information about vegetarian diets so that families can continue discussing balanced nutrition at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Vegetarian Lifestyles from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

 Vegetarian Nutrition

Tips for Vegetarians from ChooseMyPlate.gov

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