Do most people ask if a balanced diet can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian? Of course, a vegetarian diet is a balanced diet that keeps you healthy and fit.
- Advantages and disadvantages
- Recommendations and precautions
- Go further
The vegetarian diet is a diet that removes proteins of animal origin from diet on ethical, environmental, or health grounds. Although vegetarianism is varied meat, fish, maritime, and eggs are not always prohibited in favor of vegetable protein like soy, legumes, or even cereal products.
Features of the vegetarian diet:
- Rich in fiber and micronutrients
- Importance of food combinations
- Protector against overweight and cardiovascular disease
- Different variants exist
- Rich in culinary discoveries and nutrients
The Main Principles of the Regime
The vegetarian diet has been practiced for millennia, it was first called the “vegetable diet” or “xerophagia”. Several ancient Greek philosophers were vegetarians. Many other prominent thinkers have followed vegetarianism over the centuries (such as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Einstein). More recently, it is Brigitte Bardot, Aymeric Caron, Moby, Yoko Ono, and Paul McCartney who publicly defend vegetarianism in their positions and events.
You can read the following blog also, the Plant-Based Diet/Vegan FAQs.
How does the vegetarian diet work?
Different reasons can lead to adopting the vegetarian diet, we find in particular:
- Preventing such diseases (cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, constipation, cancer)
- Interest in animal welfare
- The protection of the environment
- Respect for religious precepts, in certain cases
To lose weight, should you follow a vegetarian diet?
- It is proven that people following a vegetarian diet have a lower than average BMI, this is supported by the fact that adopting a restrictive diet such as vegetarianism leads to better balance in their food intake and to consume less food from the food industry.
- Also, the vegetarian diet, excluding meat, participates in the fight against cardiovascular diseases especially caused by saturated fatty acids found in meat.
- Owing to this shortage of fatty meat in their diet, vegetarians typically have lower levels of cholesterol than omnivorous people.
- The risk of prostate and colon cancer is also decreased by the excess of fruits and vegetables, the low consumption of fat, and the lack of smoked, charred, or nitrate-containing meat.
- Finally, the absence of meat would almost eliminate the risk of contracting infections related to bacteria or viruses present in it (H. pylori, Campylobacter, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, etc.).
How long does the vegetarian slimming diet last?
The vegetarian diet is one of the lifestyles that are often adopted throughout life. Whatever the reasons, it is, therefore, a diet that has no limited duration.
Authorized and prohibited foods
The vegetarian diet includes all food categories excluding meat and fish, so we find starches and cereals, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and eggs, fats, legumes, and sweet products.
Diet and menu schedule for a healthy vegetarian diet
- Wholemeal bread Vegetable margarine or butter Orange
- Jam Milk Coffee
- Coral lentil curry with coconut milk
- Basmati rice
- Some almonds
- 1/2 avocado with spices
- Omelet Roasted peppers Plain
Advantages and Disadvantages
The positive points of the vegetarian diet
- Prevention of cardiovascular pathologies
- Good fiber intake
- The significant feeling of fullness
- Great dietary diversity
- Maintain a healthy weight more easily
- Rich in culinary discoveries
The negatives of the vegetarian slimming diet
- Poor Omega-6 / Omega-3 ratio
- Requires cooking
Recommendations and precautions to be taken
Is this a diet for you?
- Vegetarianism can be a good solution for you if you want to adopt a lifestyle that respects the environment, animal welfare, and your health.
- Do not hesitate to be accompanied in the first months of your new diet to fully understand the challenges and food combinations to make for a balanced vegetarian diet.
What is the vegetarian Scarsdale diet?
The Scarsdale approach is a low-calorie and low-carbon diet, which can lose up to 9 kilos within 14 days. However, due to its very restrictive nature, it is not a recommendable weight loss method.
Balanced vegetarian diet in children and adults
A balanced and well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet is a nutritionally healthy option, as is a diet that includes meat and/or fish. But if they are not planned correctly, they can be detrimental to your health.
How to be vegetarian or vegan?
- Balanced vegetarian or vegan diets are based on consuming plant-based foods and eliminating animal-based foods.
- The only drawback of balanced vegetarian or vegan diets is that they require more training from the person when it comes to correctly combine food to avoid nutritional deficits, especially in childhood.
Types of balanced vegetarian or vegan diet
In general, a vegetarian person does not consume animal products, but they can consume some products derived from animals. There are several types of balanced vegetarian or vegan diet such as:
This diet does not consume meat, fish, or their derivatives (cold cuts, preserves …) but it does include milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarian is a diet in which you can use eggs, but you are not allowed to take any dairy products.
- People that consume an Ovo-vegetarian diet has known as Ovo-vegetarians.
- The word Ovo is a Latin word that means eggs.
There are several options, but they do not consume meat or derivatives and they do eat fish.
- People who follow this philosophy of life, reduce to the maximum the consumption of foods of animal origin, but sometimes they consume them.
- Plant-based diets follow this trend a bit.
It only includes foods of plant origin. Foods such as honey and even drugs that include excipients obtained from animals such as gelatin are avoided.
Raw vegan diet
- These vegans reject the consumption of cooked foods, base their diet on natural vegetables, without additives, and are not exposed to a temperature higher than that produced by the sun, that is, around 40 ° C. Some raw eaters are fruitarians or frugivores, that is, they eat only fruits.
- Cooking destroys the enzymes, to enhance the nutritional value the seeds and nuts are soaked to start the germination process.
The vegetarian diet food pyramid
A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet should include the following foods:
At the base of the pyramid because they provide energy, low-glycemic carbohydrates, fiber, iron, B vitamins, zinc, and other trace elements.
Read also, Health Benefits of Whole Grains.
Vegetables and Fruits
- Consume more vegetables than fruits so as not to decompensate the hormone insulin.
- They provide phytonutrients, antioxidants that delay premature aging.
- Eat fruits with vitamin C to increase iron fixation (citrus, strawberries, kiwis, …).
Legumes, soybeans, and derivatives (textured soybeans, tofu, tempeh), nuts, seeds, seitan, and if you consume them, eggs and dairy.
Olive oil, nuts, seeds (sesame, flax, pipes …), and avocado.
Green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fortified foods.
They mainly provide minerals and also proteins, vitamins, and fibers.
In a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet, you should include vegetable protein with every meal:
- Chickpeas, broad beans, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, peanuts,…
- Walnut, hazelnut, almond, cashews, pine nuts, …
- Flax, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, …
- The most common are mung bean (wrongly called green soybean) and alfalfa.
- To obtain the sprouts of lentil, chickpea, wheat, onion, watercress, radish, mustard, onion or fenugreek, etc.
- You must buy the seeds and germinate them at home.
- Fermented skinless soybeans.
- Derived from wheat, it is not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
- Its protein value is lower than that derived from soybeans.
- Textured soy protein.
- They mainly provide minerals and also proteins, vitamins, and fibers.
- Quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, or buckwheat.
- Almond, hazelnut, soy, chia
- There are many sources of plant iron (non-heme iron).
- Although its assimilation is less than animal iron (heme), to improve its assimilation you should consume iron-rich vegetables together with fruit rich in vitamin C or dress the salad with vinegar as the acidic medium increases the absorption of iron.
- It is also important that you avoid the joint intake of foods rich in calcium (fortified vegetable drinks or supplements) to improve the absorption of iron.
- If you are vegan, you can obtain calcium from green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cabbage…), oranges, nuts, and legumes (chickpeas, beans, soybeans…).
- Consume vegetable drinks enriched in calcium and vitamin D and homemade vegetarian pates.
- This vitamin regulates the passage of calcium to the bone.
- Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so it is found in fats. In a vegetarian diet, its main intake is in fortified drinks.
- To activate its production in the skin, sunbathe, outside the central hours of the day, for 30 minutes.
- As the most common source of EPA and DHA fatty acids is oily fish and algae, in vegan diets you can obtain them from its precursor, ALA (linolenic) present in nuts, seeds, and flax oil.
- Sometimes a supplement is necessary for a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet since the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA depends on the presence of enzyme cofactors in the blood, which are not always found in sufficient quantity.
- Both vegetarian and vegan diets must be supplemented with vitamin B12.
The most comfortable way to do this is through a weekly supplement of vitamin B12 with a contribution of 2000 micrograms.
Vegetarian nutrition in pregnancy and lactation
- As we have already said before, a vegetarian diet is valid at all stages of life.
- In pregnancy and lactation, we must adjust the ratio because the needs increase.
Vegetarian nutrition in children
- A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet for children is healthy and perfectly feasible.
- Children, up to 8 years old, should consume a smaller portion.
- In adolescence, we must adjust the ratio because the needs increase.
- It has been shown that in children who follow a well-planned vegetarian diet, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia is the same as in omnivorous children. It is believed that the body adapts to food intake, producing metabolic adaptations to improve iron assimilation in these children.
Complementary feeding of a vegan baby
- A vegan child’s supplementary feeding is very close to that of omnivorous infants.
- Breast milk is recommended for up to 6 months, and you can start with complementary feeding just like omnivores.
- When you need to incorporate animal products, instead of incorporating meat or fish, we will give you legumes (first peeled), tofu, seitan, textured soybeans, unsweetened vegetable yogurt, creamy nuts, or crushed seeds (tahine).
- It is important to introduce foods one by one, in small quantities, assessing tolerance.
Some figures to go further
- In France, more than 30% of individuals define themselves as being flexitarians. This trend is even more visible among wealthy people over the age of 50.
- However, among those under 35, reducing meat consumption is increasingly common. Similarly, 50% of individuals would like to increase their consumption of plant products.
- Less than 3% of French people are strict vegetarians, and less than 2% are vegan.
The opinion of the dietician on vegetarianism
- Vegetarian diets are becoming more famous due to their various health benefits and a rising interest in protecting our environment.
- It is a healthy diet that suits perfectly every age of life and is subject to fair use of plates by serving protein (legumes, milk products, or eggs).