[An exploratory study of vegetarianism in catering establishment].Nutr Hosp 2019; 36(3):681-690NH
Introduction: interest in vegetarian diets is rising, however, it remains a very controversial topic, and with many reservations regarding it. Questions like their conceivable nutritional deficiencies, or if they are adequate or healthy, might be widely unknown. Objectives: exploring vegetarian diets, examining the current level of knowledge about them, and analyzing and improving, from a nutritional standpoint, the vegetarian menus of a restaurant with vegetarian options. Methods: this study was designed as an exploratory, crossover, descriptive study. Surveys with 17 items and a food frequency questionnaire were given among the customers of the restaurant. A total of 155 people, aged between 18 and 62, took part in it. A total of 30 menus were analyzed, and some suggestions were made in order to improve them. Results: out of the total sample, 138 people were omnivores, 12 people were vegetarians and two were vegans. More than half of the vegetarians did not know vitamin B12 is the only required supplement by default, and almost 60% of them stated never taking B12 supplements. The vegetarian menus which were analyzed provided a mean of 1,195 kcal, and covered 89% of the requirements of fiber, 212% of vitamin C, ≈30% of both calcium and zinc, 86% of iron, and 38% of B12. Conclusion: a great lack of knowledge regarding several aspects of vegetarian diets was found, even among vegetarian themselves. Informing the general public is essential for both avoiding dangerous nutritional deficiencies (like B12), and attracting more people towards this kind of diets, with all the benefits this would provide. In the vegetarian menus of Foodtopía, adequate levels of nutrients were observed. The main suggestions to improve the menus were: reducing the total calories and the amount of sunflower oil, and increasing the amount of legumes, nuts and seeds.