How can friends benefit your health

Recommendations of New Zealand

The New Zealand Ministry of Health publishes recommendations for vegetarians, some of which are also suitable for a vegan diet.




Most common motivations:


  • Health-promoting aspects;

  • Religious beliefs;

  • Commitment to animal rights;

  • Aversion to meat.


Vegans do not consume any products of animal origin (including meat, dairy products, eggs, gelatine and honey).


Healthy food choices

Take care. Your health is important. What you eat and drink has an impact on your health. The dietary recommendations below apply to everyone, not just vegetarians.


  • Maintain a healthy body weight by getting enough exercise every day and eating a balanced diet.

  • Try to have your meals with friends, family, or social circle as often as possible. When doing this, switch off the television and the mobile phone.

  • Set a good example by encouraging friends, family, and those around you to choose healthy foods.

  • Eat 3 meals a day (low in fat, salt, and sugar) and healthy snacks between meals. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.

  • If you want to drink alcohol, do so in a moderate manner.

  • Pay attention to hygiene safety when buying, preparing, cooking and preserving the food.

  • The household budget influences food choices. Good planning of your budget can help you choose healthy foods when shopping. This can also benefit your finances. Take enough time every day for a balanced breakfast that will give you the energy you need to start the day.


Pay attention to a wide variety when choosing your food

In order to be healthy, it is important to consume a wide variety of different foods. The four main food groups contain different mixtures of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. You need all of them to stay in good health.

Choose foods from each of the four groups on a daily basis:


  • Fruits and vegetables - see below;

  • Bread and grain - see below;

  • Milk substitutes and various alternatives to dairy products - see below;

  • Legumes, seeds and kernels - see below.


Important nutrients


Make sure the foods you consume meet your needs for protein, iron, vitamin B12, and calcium. You can find these essential nutrients in plant sources by making sure you have enough food variety: fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy products, whole grains, seeds and kernels.

The following selection explains the importance of the nutrients and shows examples of foods that contain the said nutrients.



Proteins are important for normal growth. You maintain the muscles, which are mainly composed of proteins, and also contribute to a well-functioning immune system, as well as to the health of the heart and lungs. [...]

Vegans find their proteins in legumes, seeds, kernels, breads and grains.



Iron is important for the blood and the brain. Vegetarians can meet their iron needs by consuming large amounts of green vegetables, whole grains, as well as beans, peas and nuts. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption in the blood. Oranges, kiwis, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and broccoli are high in vitamin C. Consume them with foods that contain iron.


Do not drink tea during meals as the tea inhibits iron absorption.



Calcium is necessary for bone strength and teeth. [...] If you do not consume cow's milk, choose a calcium-fortified alternative (certain soy drinks, for example). Other foods such as whole grain bread, peanuts, broccoli, spinach, boiled beans, and tofu also contain calcium, but in lower amounts than milk and dairy products.


Vitamin B12

The human body needs a small amount of vitamin B12. With the exception of vegans, vegetarians can find plenty of them in dairy products. Apart from animal products, there is no natural source of vitamin B12. Vegans can get this vitamin through nutritional supplements or intramuscular injections. Certain soy drinks are fortified with vitamin B12. This vitamin is processed very efficiently by the human body. It can therefore take a long time before a deficiency becomes manifest. A deficiency in vitamin B12 means a serious disorder that manifests itself in irreversible consequences, which are also very likely to manifest themselves during growth, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Vegans are therefore advised to have their vitamin B12 content checked by a doctor on a regular basis.



[…] There are numerous plant-based foods that are very voluminous. The baby's stomach is therefore often too tight to take in all of the essential foods necessary for their growth and physical activity.

Serve small meals to the children often. Offer them a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and kernels […]. Vegetarian children need iron-rich foods such as cereals and whole grain breads, legumes, dried fruits, and green leafy vegetables. To promote iron absorption in the blood, serve these foods with foods rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes or oranges.

If the child does not drink cow's milk, suggest other drinks such as soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamin B12.

If the child does not consume dairy products or eggs, ask their doctor or midwife if there is a need to consult a nutritionist for more information and advice.

The food portions defined in this brochure:


  • are not suitable for children under 2 years of age;

  • can be increased in growth for young people.

Choose different foods from the four groups every day.

fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide the body with carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They're also low in fat. They should be consumed with every meal. They are also very suitable as snacks.


  • Choose well-washed, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables (or from canned foods).

  • Consume a wide variety of colored fruits and vegetables, for example: tomatoes or strawberries, broccoli or kiwi, carrots or tangerines, aubergines or plums, potatoes or pears.


In what amount?

At least 3 servings of vegetables (including at least 1 green leafy vegetable) and 2 servings of fruit per day.


How much is a portion?


  • 1 medium-sized potato, sweet potato, ingname or taro (135 g);

  • ½ cup of cooked vegetables or lettuce (50-80 g);

  • 1 tomato (80 g);

  • ½ cup of leafy green vegetables (50-60 g);

  • 1 apple, pear, banana or orange (130 g);

  • 2 small apricots or plums (100 g);

  • ½ cup of fresh fruit salad (135 g);

  • ½ cup cooked fruit: homemade, frozen or canned (135 g).

Dried fruits and fruit juices are not recommended because they contain a lot of sugar. If you want to eat from it, make sure you don't eat more than one serving of dried fruit (about 2 tablespoons or 25 g) or 1 serving of fruit juice (250 ml) per day.


Bread and cereals

Bread and cereals provide you with carbohydrates. They are an important source of energy and dietary fiber. They also provide iron, protein, and folic acid. Bread and cereals must be consumed on a daily basis.


  • This food category includes breakfast cereals, breads, rice, noodles, and pasta.

  • Prefer whole-grain cereals and whole-grain bread, as these contain more dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals (e.g. oatmeal, whole rice and whole-grain bread).


In what amount?

At least 6 servings per day.


How much is a portion?


  • 1 small wholemeal bread roll (50 g);

  • 1 medium slice of whole grain bread (26 g);

  • 1 cup cooked pasta or cooked rice (150 g);

  • 2 wheat crispbread (type Weetabix) for breakfast (34 g);

  • 1 cup of corn flakes (30 g);

  • ½ cup of muesli (55 g);

  • ½ cup of whole meal or cooked oatmeal (130 g);

  • 2 sweet biscuits (14 g);

  • 1 muffin (80 g).


[...] milk substitute products

These foods provide you with energy, proteins and numerous vitamins (including vitamin B12), as well as many minerals (including calcium).



In what amount?

At least 2-3 servings a day. Prefer low-fat or reduced-fat products.


How much is a portion?



  • 1 glass (250 ml) soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamin B12 for vegans.


Legumes, nuts and kernels / seeds

Legumes include cooked dry beans, peas, and lentils. All of these foods contain protein, fat, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron.


In what amount?

At least 2 servings a day.


How much is a portion?


  • ¾ cup of cooked dry beans, such as soybeans, Indian beans, or canned boiled beans (150 g);

  • ¾ cup of cooked chickpeas (150 g);

  • ¾ cup of cooked lentils, e.g. brown or red (150 g);

  • - Cup of nuts or kernels (50 g), such as peanuts, cashews, almonds or pumpkin seeds;

  • ¾ cup of tofu or tempeh (200 g).


High-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods

In general, it is important to eat healthily. It doesn't matter if foods with a higher fat, sugar or salt content are consumed occasionally (once a week, not daily).

Fats, salt and sugar are found in many foods such as cereal bars, candy, chips, chocolate, patisserie, sweet biscuits and most take-away dishes and sodas. Most of the salt you consume comes from processed products like chips, soy sauce, salted peanuts and cured products.


Reduction in fat, sugar and salt consumption


  • When shopping, pay attention to the ingredients described on the labels in order to be able to compare the fat, sugar and salt content of the various foods well. Sugar is sometimes called fructose or sucrose […]. Salt is usually listed under the name sodium.

  • Prefer preparations in the grill, in the oven, by cooking, by steaming or in the microwave instead of fried preparations.

  • Use oil and margarine sparingly, when cooking or as a spread.

  • Prefer reduced-fat salad dressings […].

  • If you want to decrease your fat intake, be careful not to increase your sugar levels in the process. When you are hungry, replace biscuits, cakes and sweets with bread or cereals. The latter will keep you full longer.

  • Don't add extra salt to your meals. Add little or no salt to the food you are cooking. Try them when they're done instead of salting them while they're cooking.

  • If you do salt in spite of everything, you should use iodized salt.


Eat outdoors

The majority of take-away foods are rich in fat and salt. Save these for special occasions. Don't eat it every day. Here are some take-away foods that are lower in fat:


  • Vegetable sushi;

  • Pasta with tomato sauce;

  • thick fries (instead of thin fries);

  • Pasta dishes (not fried) with lots of vegetables;

  • Baked potatoes with beans and lettuce.



Your body needs between 6 and 8 cups of water (or other beverages) every day to function properly. Tea and coffee can be an ingredient, but be sure to consume syrups, energy drinks and sodas in moderation.


  • Water is the best drink. It's easy to get hold of and inexpensive. Always keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator and take a bottle of water with you when you leave the house.

  • […] Plant-based milk is also a good choice as it is high in energy and contains many vitamins and minerals.

  • Increase your hydration levels when exercising or doing physical activity, or when the temperature is high.


Limit your alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to health problems and injuries. Alcohol is also high in calories. Limit alcohol consumption if you want to lose weight.

There is no mandatory amount of alcohol that can be recommended for everyone. The amount of alcohol you can consume depends on your age, gender, stature, your meals, and your general health.

If you want to drink alcohol, drink little and eat at the same time, do not take part in drinking parties or drive when you have been drinking.


Be active every day


For better health and to increase your well-being, be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.

Exercise as differently as possible physically. Go up stairs instead of taking the elevator. Get off the bus earlier and walk. Move more. Spend less time sitting. If possible, do some vigorous activity to improve your health and fitness. (see table below).

30 minutes a day will help you:

  • more energy;

  • Reducing stress;

  • Improving your posture and balance;

  • Maintaining your normal weight;

  • Maintaining strong bones and muscles and flexible joints;

  • increased feeling of relaxation and well-being;

  • a reduction in the risk of heart disease, obesity, cerebral vascular accidents, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, depression and falls.

  • longer lasting independence.


Try to do mostly moderate sports, occasionally intense ones.


Moderate activities

Intense activities

My breathing is faster and my heart rate is slightly increased.

I can still speak while doing this.

I'm out of breath and my heart is beating faster.

I can say a few more words between each breath.

  • Ride a bike in the plain;

  • Saloon dance and line dance;

  • Light gardening, chopping, cutting hedges;

  • Aquagym;

  • Golf (if you carry your bag), kapa haka (Maori dance).

  • Jogging;

  • Cycling at over 16 km / h;

  • Aerobics;

  • Gardening such as digging, cutting with a manual mower, chopping wood;

  • Swim lengths;

  • Sports like waka ama (canoeing), rowing, kilikiti (a type of cricket).



If you've been physically inactive for a long time, start gently. If you have any doubts about your health or if you have not done any physical activity for a long time, seek advice before you start.

If you experience pain, dizziness or if you find it easy to breathe out of breath during any activity, stop and consult your doctor.