If you choose a diet without meat or fish, you have to be aware of what you eat in order for you to get the necessary nutrients. A healthy vegetarian diet includes whole grain foods, legumes, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, vegetable oils, seeds and nuts. It's easier to make the vegetarian diet complete, if it also includes milk, cheese and eggs.


People that don't eat meat or fish are vegetarians. Usually, vegetarian diets are divided into three main groups.

  • Vegan diet: a diet that doesn't include any sort of animal products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian diet: milk and other dairy products are a part of this diet.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: in addition to milk, also eggs are a part of this diet.

Studies have shown that people following a vegan diet are at risk of not getting enough calcium, riboflavin (vitamin B), vitamin B12 and selenium, compared to those who eat a lacto-vegetarian diet, or meat and fish. If young people don't get enough calcium, it inhibits the bone development and increases the risk of osteoporosis. It's particularly important for women to get enough calcium. Vitamin B12 is, for example, important for the formation of blood cells. Vegans must also make sure they get enough protein, iodine, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. However, a well-balanced varied lacto-vegetarian diet is healthy, because it's rich in fibers, vitamins and minerals. The basic diet should include wholegrain products, milk/yoghurt and cheese, lots of vegetables and fruits, and preferably legumes (beans and lentils), and some nuts (almonds and other seeds).

It's important to make sure you get enough of these nutrients:


Vitamin D deficiency is a challenge in a vegetarian diet, but also in a normal diet. Vitamin D is particularly important for pregnant women and small children. The green milk, ”Ekstra Lett lettmelk”, is fortified with Vitamin D. Plant margarin and butter is also fortified with vitamin D, but not enough to cover the requirements. The alternative is vitamin D supplements.


Calcium is primarily found in milk and dairy products, but there's also calcium in green leafy vegetables, different sorts of cabbage, peas, beans, lentils, root vegetables, almonds, sesame seeds and dried fruit, and blackberries.


Milk and dairy products are the main sources of vitamin B12. Riboflavin (B2) is primarily found in milk and meat. Most regular multi-vitamin supplements contain the necessary amount of B12 and B2.


The best sources of selenium in a vegetarian diet are whole grain products, eggs, milk and nuts.


Children, young people and fertile women have an increased risk of low iron levels, regardless of the diet they follow. Meat, fish and eggs are good sources of iron in a regular norwegian diet. When these foods are not a part of your diet, it's very important to eat whole grain bread and müsli that are rich in iron. Also legumes and green leafy vegetables are good sources of iron.

Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron, while tea and coffee inhibit it. Therefore, orange juice with a slice of bread is good for the iron absorption, while it's best to avoid tea and coffee with your meals, if you suspect you are suffering from iron deficiency.


For the body to utilize the protein better it is good to eat peas, beans and lentils with pasta, bread or other whole grain products. In particular, soy products increase the protein content in the diet. A little milk or cheese with grains (put milk on porridge or serve cheese with risotto) also provides complete protein.


In a Norwegian diet milk and cheese are the most important sources of iodine. You can also choose salt with iodine, as well as get iodine through kelp or algae from the sea. A pinch of kelp covers the daily requirement of iodine.


Important sources of zinc are legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grain products, in addition to milk and dairy products.


The fatty acids EPA and DHA are not found in a vegan diet. However, the body can produce these fatty acids itself, as long as you have an adequate intake of alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid is found in flaxseed oil, flaxseed, rapeseed oil and soy oil, and in walnuts.