A Diet Plan for Vegetarians
What we eat has some sort of an effect on our lives. Our diets highly contribute to our quality of life and our life span. Healthy food plans promote one’s health and reduce their chances of getting some diseases. With that in mind, it is important to be cautious with what you consume. It is for this reason that we can find different people adopting different diets, and this increases all the more as people are becoming more cautious and aware of what affects their health. One such diet that is known to be healthy and full of benefits is the vegetarian diet plan.
In our present time it is so easy to find a vegetarian. This type of meal plan has been spreading faster than hot gossip among friends. In retro times, it was hard to find a vegetarian menu in restaurants and hotels. That is definitely not the case these days. This just goes to show how the vegetarian diet has grown in popularity. So, what makes up the vegetarian diet? Does it deliver as many benefits as people claim it does? Does it really help with weight loss? All of this, as well as much more about this specialized diet is highlighted in this informative read. Come along for the download.
What Is The Vegetarian Diet?
This is a food plan that eliminates the consumption of meat, fish and poultry (8). There are so many reasons as to why people choose to become vegetarian. People become vegetarians due to the numerous benefits associated with plant-based diets. Some of these people join this lifestyle solely for ethical reasons. Others adopt it due to religious reasons. Still others join due to environmental reasons, while some just want a different way of life. Whatever your particular reason is, it is important to make sure to make your vegetarian diet as healthy as possible.
Vegetarians focus on getting all their nutrients from plant-based foods (2). The secret to a healthy vegetarian diet is to eat a variety of healthy plant-based foods every single day. Just like most specialized diets, different people are interpreting this food plan differently. You may want to include eggs in your meal plan while another person might not be so open to this. It is important to note that this diet only promotes better health if the food selected for the diet is healthy. French fries technically belong to this meal plan, but are they healthy? Just because you don’t eat animals does not automatically mean you are eating healthier when compared to other individuals.
Are Vegetarian Foods Tasty?
Food in this meal plan can be as equal to or even more delicious than food in a normal meal plan. This is because people are very innovative and there are surely substitute food choices in this meal plan for that food that you are not supposed to be eating. A good example of this is tofu, which qualifies in this diet as a substitute for most animal proteins.
Food in this diet is also quite satisfying. Hence, the notion that you will feel hungry while on this diet is nothing more than a misconception. Even more, the food in this diet is satisfying because the food in this meal plan is quite rich in fiber. Fiber, as you probably know, has a filling effect.
In this diet the food is mostly low in calories, low in saturated fat and low in refined sugars. This diet emphasizes food like grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits (2). Dairy products and eggs can be included, depending on the type of vegetarian diet you are on. Speaking of this, are there different types of the vegetarian diet?
Types Of Vegetarian Diets
There definitely are different types of the vegetarian meal plan. The different diets are composed of different foods that one includes in such diets. Here are the different variations of this diet.
This variation of the vegetarian food plan excludes meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as all the foods that contain them. It does not exclude dairy products as foods like yoghurt, milk, and cheese can be included in this diet.
This is yet another variation of the plant-based diet. In this diet, meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products are excluded. It differs from the lacto-vegetarian diet in that it allows eggs to be eaten.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian (7).
This variation excludes meat, poultry and fish from the diet. It however, allows one to include eggs and dairy products in the diet.
In this diet, meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs are not allowed. Specifically, fish is allowed in this diet.
Meat and fish are not allowed in the diet. However, chicken is allowed. Eggs and dairy products are allowed in some variations of this diet while others don’t allow.
Most people usually confuse being a vegan and being a vegetarian. All vegans are vegetarians, but all vegetarians are not vegans (12). Vegans are just a variation of vegetarians. As a vegan, you are not allowed to consume meat, poultry, fish, egg and dairy products.
This variation is also known as flexitarian diet. This diet primarily focuses on plant-based foods. It however, does include meat, dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry but only in small quantities or on occasions.
Those are the different variations of the vegetarian diet.
Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid When On A Vegetarian Diet
When you are on a restrictive diet such as this one, it is important to know the foods you are allowed to eat and those that should not be found on your plate. Depending on the variation of the vegetarian diet you are following, some foods may be on your list while others should be excluded from consideration.
Foods To Eat
You should eat: (11)
- Vegetables. Examples of vegetables include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, sweet potatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, and broccoli.
- Fruits. Examples of fruits include avocado, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, apples, grapes, bananas, grapefruit, and oranges.
- Whole grains. Examples of whole grain include quinoa, farro, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-wheat pasta.
- Nuts. Examples of nuts include walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashew nuts.
- Seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are included in this food plan.
- Beans and lentils
- Healthy fats and oils such as olive and avocado
- Tea, including green, lavender, chamomile, or ginger.
Foods To Avoid
You should avoid the following foods: (11)
- Dairy products unless you decide to allow them. This includes foods like milk and cheese
- Meat and poultry. This includes foods like chicken, beef, and pork.
- Processed animal meats, such as sausages and hot dogs.
- All animal products. This includes eggs, dairy, and meat if you’re following a vegan diet.
- Refined grains such as “white” foods, like white pasta, rice, and bread.
- Sweets like cookies, brownies, and cake (6).
- Sweetened beverages, such as soda, and fruit juice.
- Fried foods like french fries.
- Honey if you are a vegan.
It is important to remember that this is a generalized list. You can consume things that are not in the list of foods to eat if your variation of the vegetarian diet allows. You should not eat foods that you are allergic to even if they are included in the list of foods to eat. It is always advisable to consult an expert like a dietician when you want to join a new diet. They are the best people to advise you on whether the meal plan you want to follow is suitable for you and the healthiest way to follow it.
Daily Vegetarian Diet Amounts Based On A 2000 Calorie Diet
The average calories received by an individual in a day range somewhere between 1800 calories and 2200 calories, hence the reason for using a 2000 calorie measure. Knowing the amounts of each food group you should take according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will help you ensure that you get the required amounts of each necessary nutrient for your body (3).
Fruits are very important to a person. This is because they come packed with the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. If you are on a 2000 calorie vegetarian diet, you need 2 cups of fruits daily (3). 1 cup of fruit can counts as:
- A cup of either raw, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit.
- It can also count as ½ cup of dried fruit.
- It can also count as 1 cup of 100% fruit juice.
Vegetables are rich in so many nutrients that our bodies need. You need 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily if you are on this diet (3). 1 cup of vegetable counts as:
- A cup of either raw, cooked, or canned vegetables.
- It also counts as 2 cups of leafy salads.
- It can also count as 1 cup of 100% vegetable juice.
Grains are also an important component of any diet. A person on this diet needs 6 ounces of grains (3). An ounce of grains counts as:
- A slice of bread.
- It can also count as 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal.
- It can also count as ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal.
Proteins help in muscle growth and repairing tissues, among many other uses in the body. They are important in this diet and a person requires 5 ½ ounces of proteins if they are on this diet (3). An ounce of protein counts as:
- An ounce of either cooked or canned lean meats, poultry, or seafood.
- An ounce also counts as 1 egg.
- It also counts as 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
- It also counts as ¼ cup of cooked beans or peas.
- It also counts as ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.
Dairy is also important in a diet. In this, you need 3 cups of dairy in a day (3). A cup of dairy counts as:
- A cup of milk.
- It can also count as a cup of yogurt.
- A cup of fortified soy beverage.
- It can also count as 1 ½ ounce of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese.
You also need 26 grams of oil in a day (3).
Important Nutrients Vegetarians Should Make Sure They Get
We all know nutrients are important in our diets. When you are on a highly restrictive diet like this one. You should ensure you consume all the nutrients your body needs for you to be healthy. Here are some of those nutrients and some foods that are rich in those nutrients.
Calcium helps create strong bones and strong teeth in individuals (10). It also helps with nerve functioning. Milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium. If you are taking on a variation of the vegetarian diet that does not allow for milk and other dairy products, you can get calcium from: almonds, legumes, kales, spinach etc. Some plant-based milk alternatives may also be fortified with calcium.
Vitamin D is also another important nutrient in one’s diet. Vitamin D helps one absorb calcium (10). Spending time in the sun is a great way to boost your vitamin D.
Iron is important to our diets. Iron helps your body form haemoglobin and some important enzymes (10). Most people get iron from meat, poultry, and fish. Since most vegetarians don’t eat most of these foods, they can instead get iron from leafy vegetables, legumes, and dried fruits among others.
This is yet another mineral that is mostly gotten from meats. Zinc helps the body with healing and growth (10). Since most people on this meal plan cannot eat meats, they can get zinc from legumes, peanuts, brown rice and other sources.
Vitamin B12 is also mostly found in animal products. If your vegetarian diet allows for dairy products or eggs, you may be able to get the basic required amount of this nutrient. If not, you might not have any good option except to take vitamin B12 supplements (10).
These are some of the nutrients people on a vegetarian meal plan should be on the lookout for. This is due to the fact that people usually get these nutrients from animal products. It’s clear to see that vegetarians do not get these nutrients easily. If it is a challenge for you to get some of these nutrients, it is important for you to consult a dietician. As professionals, they are in the best position to advise you on what you should eat and whether or not you should add supplements for those nutrients in your diet.
Vegetarian Diet Plan And Weight Loss
Many people are really worried about their weight and they wonder if the diets they are on are actually effective when it comes to weight loss. Is the vegetarian meal plan the solution for erasing those extra pounds you are carrying? Here are various studies on whether vegetarian diets really do promote weight loss or not.
A meta analysis on vegetarian diets and weight loss was done (9). The researchers included 12 randomized controlled trials with an average duration of18 weeks and had a total of 1151 participants. The results showed that the individuals assigned vegetarian diets lost considerably more weight than those individuals who had non-vegetarian diets. People on the vegan diet lost more weight than people on the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. More weight loss was also experienced on individuals who were on vegetarian diets that followed energy restriction as compared to those on vegetarian diets that do not follow energy restrictions.
Another study was done on type of vegetarian diet, body weight and type 2 diabetes (5). This study analyzed data from a 2002-2006 survey of Seventh Day Adventist church members across North America. The population included 22434 men and 38469 women.The analysis showed that vegans had the lowest body mass index. Their results were followed by lacto-ovo-vegetarians, pescatarians, semi-vegetarians and finally non-vegetarians. Non-vegetarians had the highest body mass index. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was lowest in vegans and highest in non-vegetarians.
Vegetarian diets are very important when it comes to weight loss and promoting better health (7). There are many different types of vegetarian diets as highlighted above. The BMI of a person increases when a wider spectrum of animal products are eaten. Thus meat lovers have the highest BMI compared to vegetarians. When dealing with vegetarians only, you will notice vegans have a lower BMI as compared to vegetarian diets that allow animal products.
Vegetarian diets help promote weight loss by the fact that most of the food choices in this diet are low calorie foods. This helps ensure the calories you consume are lower than the calories you burn in a particular day.
This diet also helps promote weight loss in that most foods in this diet are high in fiber. Fiber helps promote a feeling of fullness. This prevents an individual from eating as much as they otherwise would, and so promoting weight loss.
Vegetarian Meal Plan
Since there are many different variations of the vegetarian diet, Here is a simple meal plan you could follow (4). It does not have any calorie restrictions. If you want a more specialized meal plan, you should consult a dietician as they will help you create one that fits with your weight goals.
- Egg White Spinach Feta Wrap
Contains: 2 oz tortillas, ½ cup sliced mushrooms, ½ tsp of pepper, 4 cups of spinach, 200g of egg white, ¼ cup of crumbled feta cheese and 2 tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes.
Calories:388.5, Proteins :36.4g, Fat:10.8g, Carbs: 39.7
- 2 ounces of Pecans
Calories: 391.8, Protein: 5.2g, Fat:40.8g , Carbs: 7.9g
- 1 serving of Basic Scrambled Eggs
Contains: 3 large eggs, ½ tbsp of butter, ½ tbsp of chopped chives, ½ tbsp of ground tarragon, ½ dash of salt, ½ dash of pepper
Calories: 273.1 Protein:19.4g, Fat: 20.2g, Carbs: 2.4g
- Fruit Salad
Contains: 1 cup of halves strawberries and 1 cup of blueberries.
Calories: 133, Carbs: 33.1g, Fat 0.9g, Protein 2.1g
- 1 serving of Egyptian Feta Cheese Omelet Roll
Contains: 2 large eggs, ¼ tsp of pepper, ½ oz of feta cheese, ½ tsp of reduced fat milk, ½ tbsp of vegetable oil.
Calories: 244.9, Protein: 14.7g, Fat: 19.6g, Carbs: 1.8g
- 1 serving of Vegan Breakfast Potatoes
Contains: 1 small potato, ½ tbsp vegetable oil, ¼ tbs salt, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ⅛ tsp pepper.
Calories: 182.8, Carbs: 27.5g, Fat: 7.2g, Proteins: 3.3g
- Fried Plantains with Sour Cream
Contains: 1 medium plantain, 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of sour cream.
Calories: 384, Carbs: 57.8g, Fat: 18.9g, Protein, 2.8g
Total calories for the day: 1988, Protein: 84 g, Fat: 118 g , Carbs: 170 g
- Tropical Vegan Smoothie
Contains: 1 ½ cup of orange juice, 1 medium banana, ½ cup of halved strawberries, 6 ice cubes, 3 tsp of sweetener, syrup, agave.
Calories: 388.5, Protein: 4.4g, Fat: 1.3g, Carbs: 94.5g
- 2 oranges
Calories: 123.1, Carbs: 30.8g, Fat: 0.3g, Protein: 2.5g
- Blueberry Parfait
Contains: ⅓ cup of blueberries, ¾ cup of plain yogurt, ⅓ cup of granola
Calories: 339.1, Carbs: 37.4g, Fat: 15.9g, Protein: 12.8g
- 1 slice of buttered toast
Contain: 1 slice whole-wheat bread and ½ tbsp of butter
Calories: 121.5, Carbs: 12g, Fat: 6.7g, Protein: 3.5g
- Egg white frittata
Contains: 1 tbsp of olive oil, ½ medium red bell pepper, ½ medium green bell pepper, ⅛ onion, ½ tsp of salt, ½ tsp of pepper, 4 large egg whites, ⅓ cup of crumbled feta cheese, 1 cup of spinach.
Calories: 340.1, Protein: 22.2g, Fat 22.2g, Carbs: 13.8g
- 1 slice of Cinnamon Toast
Contains: 1 slice of whole-wheat bread, 1 tsp of butter, ½ tbsp of sugar, ½ tsp of cinnamon.
Calories: 132.1, Carbs: 19.3g, Fat: 4.8g, 3.6g
- 6 Healthy Banana Oat Pancakes
Contain: 1 cup of sliced bananas, 1 cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of egg white, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 2 tsp coconut oil.
Calories: 553.5, Protein: 25.1g, Fat:12g, Carbs: 97.4
Total calories for the day: 1998, Protein: 74 g, Fat: 63 g , Carbs: 305 g
That is an example of a two day vegetarian food plan. It contains different vegetarian foods with different calorie amounts.
The Bottom Line
The vegetarian diet plan is quite restrictive. If you are a meat lover, this is not the meal plan for you. The best thing about this diet is that it is quite effective when it comes to weight loss. This is among the reasons it is gaining popularity at such a high level.
Sticking to a healthy diet based on your health needs, allergies and preferences is a great idea, however when combined with a workout plan that meets your goals, it might bring you significant benefits. Better mood, stronger muscles and endurance are just some.