Vegetarian Diet

This article has been updated - The Vegetarian Diet (2018)

The vegetarian diet contains obviously vegetables, lots of fruit, dairy that can be replaced with soy for vegans.

It helps to vary the snack choices as much as possible so the diet doesn't become too boring. For many people, being a vegetarian/vegan isn't just about diet, but a way of life.

There is still an understanding amongst many people that a vegetarian diet lacks nutrients that can only be found in meat including protein. But a vegetarian diet isn't simply the food many of us would have minus the meat.

The Diet
A vegetarian diet must include foods that account for the nutrients that are necessary and found predominately in the meat of a conventional diet. Luckily for vegetarians and vegans there are a large choice of rich non-meat sources of protein such as bean curd, soy and lentils. Iron which is often associated with meat can also be found in peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grains, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit. Foods containing Vitamin C help your body to absorb this iron that hasn’t been sourced from meat. Calcium, required for strong teeth and bones can be found in low-fat dairy, dark green vegetables, fortified soymilk and enriched tofu. Zinc is found in whole grains, soy products, nuts and wheat germ.

Spice it Up
By being creative and thinking outside the square of a conventional diet, a vegetarian diet can consist of diverse, exciting and tasty menu options. One good way to start is to make a list of the types of meals and dishes you enjoy. Now look at the meat ingredient and think about the foods that you can replace the meat with. Take for example a basic spaghetti Bolognese, you could remove the beef mince and replace it with black beans or soy crumbles and add some chilli if you like it hot!

It's not easy to think of a vegetarian diet as tasty or exciting when you imagine taking a meat and 3 veg meal minus the meat. If this is the case, it is a good idea to seek and experiment with recipes and restaurants ranging in ethnicity.

There are many restaurants and food stores that specialise in vegetarian and vegan food with innovative choices like fake turkey, chicken, pork and other meats.

Will vegetarian diets help you lose weight?

In general, a vegetarian diet does result in people with a lower fat percentage if it is predominately made up of fruits and vegetables. However, if you go on a Vegetarian diet it is still very easy to have a high calorie intake. Particularly if you are used to the feeling of fullness one can get from meat, in its absence it is very easy to snack more on foods with empty calories.

Oils used in cooking, cheeses, peanut butter, creams, sugars and condiments can greatly increase the number of calories in your diet. So even if you cut out meat and eat more vegetables and fruit, you can still eat incorrectly and need to be somewhat mindful of this.

Take for example if you were to get some vegetarian Indian take away. As delicious and meat free as they may be the sauces can often be rich in oils and creams, hence high in calories.

Basically you must be sensible and realise that cutting meat out of your diet is not the be all and end all of a healthy weight loss regime.