Vegetarian Diet


Deniz Taskin
Deniz Taskin
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Overview

The aim: Depends, but may include weight loss, heart health and diabetes prevention or control.

The claim: Going vegetarian could help fend off kilogram and chronic diseases.

The theory: You can cook up a perfectly healthy menu that supports weight loss and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Rankings

Vegetarian Diet ranked #10 in Best Diets. 40 diets were evaluated with input from a panel of health experts.

How does Vegetarian Diet work?

Well, which kind of vegetarian do you want to be? Most choose a lacto-ovo approach, turning their backs on meat, fish and poultry, but still eating dairy products and eggs. (Lacto-vegetarians, meanwhile, also nix eggs, whereas ovo-vegetarians also nix dairy; vegans exclude all animal products.) For the lacto-ovo camp, the government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines can help you develop a healthy plan. You can figure out how many meatless calories you should eat (Appendix 2, page 77) and (Appendix 5, page 86) to get all the nutrients you need.

A daily 2,000-calorie diet, for example, should include 2 cups of fruit, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, 3 cups of dairy, 6 “ounce-equivalents” of grains and 5 1/2 ounce-equivalents of protein. The fine print will tell you how much actual food is in an ounce-equivalent. For grains, one ounce-equivalent is a slice of bread or a 6-inch tortilla; for protein, it’s an egg or quarter-cup of cooked beans. As with any diet like incorporating different-colored veggies and sources of protein to get the nutrients you need.

If that sounds tedious, countless books offer structure with vegetarian meal plans and recipes. The internet is also full of good information.

You could start by preparing a couple meat-free dishes each week, and gradually make more substitutions – tofu in stir fry instead of chicken, say, or grilled veggie burgers instead of beef. If your aim is also weight loss, your exercise routine is important and eat fewer calories than your daily recommended max.

How easy is it to follow?

How much do you like omelets, ice cream? Be mindful that healthy vegetarianism requires planning, especially if you’re a first-time convert.

Convenience: When you want to cook, there’s a recipe somewhere that’ll suit your taste buds. When you don’t, virtually every restaurant serves up vegetarian fare. And while alcohol is technically permitted, that’s not license to binge drink.

Recipes: Limitless. Magazines, books and websites like this one abound, offering suggestions for every meal and cuisine.

Eating out: Easy. Restaurants typically have lots of vegetarian-friendly entrees. Careful, though: Vegetarian doesn’t always mean healthy and restaurants are known for their gargantuan portions.

Alcohol: Vegetarian-friendly, but too much can thwart weight loss and damage the liver, brain and heart. Moderation is your best bet – that’s one drink a day for women, two a day for men. (A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of liquor.)

Timesavers: None, unless you hire somebody to plan your meals, shop for them and prepare them.

Extras: None

Fullness: Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety. If you’ve built a healthful vegetarian diet around fiber-packed veggies, fruits and whole grains, you shouldn’t feel hungry between meals.

Taste: So if something doesn’t taste good, you know who to blame.

Health & Nutrition

A vegetarian menu isn’t automatically healthy or safe. But when the U.S. News experts analyzed a vegetarian menu adapted from U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, with meals like buckwheat pancakes, vegetable soup and tofu stir-fry, they found the approach nutritious and gave it ratings of safe.

What is the role of exercise?

No matter the diet, the more you move, the quicker you’ll see the pounds come off – and you’ll reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart problems and other chronic diseases. People are generally encouraged to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) each week, along with a couple days of muscle-strengthening activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips to get you started to exercise.

7-Day Vegetarian Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

Day 1

Breakfast (297 calories)

Oatmeal with Fruit & Nuts

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked in 1/2 cup skim milk and 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 medium apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • Top oatmeal with apple, walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon.

Snack (47 calories)

  • 1/2 medium apple

Lunch (337 calories)

Green salad with Spiced Chickpea Nuts

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices
  • 1/4 cup Spiced Chickpea Nuts
  • 1 Tbsp. feta cheese
  • Combine ingredients and top with 1 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Snack (80 calories)

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Dinner (431 calories)

  • 1 serving Mozzarella, Basil & Zucchini Frittata
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • Top salad with 1/2 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 diagonal slices baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, toasted

Day 2

Breakfast (264 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup muesli
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

Snack (70 calories)

  • 2 clementines

Lunch (316 calories)

  • 2 Tomato-Cheddar Cheese Toasts
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • Combine ingredients and top salad with 1/2 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Snack (78 calories)

  • 6 walnut halves

Dinner (422 calories)

  • 2 Butternut Squash & Black Bean Tostadas

Evening Snack (50 calories)

  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate chips, preferably dark chocolate

Day 3

Breakfast (279 calories)

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 banana

Snack (78 calories)

  • 1 hard-boiled egg seasoned with a pinch each of salt and pepper

Lunch (337 calories)

Green salad with Spiced Chickpea Nuts

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices)
  • 1/4 cup Spiced Chickpea Nuts
  • 1 Tbsp. feta cheese
  • Combine ingredients and top salad with 1 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Snack (103 calories)

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. blueberries

Dinner (427 calories)

  • 1 3/4 cups Tomato & Artichoke Gnocchi

Day 4

Breakfast (264 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup muesli
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Top yogurt with blueberries and muesli.

Snack (105 calories)

  • 8 walnut halves

Lunch (332 calories)

  • 1 cup Tomato & Artichoke Gnocchi
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • Top greens with 1/2 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Snack (70 calories)

  • 2 clementines

Dinner (420 calories)

Bean & Veggie Rice Bowl

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 green bell pepper and 1/2 onion, sliced and sautéed in 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • Top rice with beans, vegetables, cheese and salsa. Garnish with cilantro, lime and hot sauce, if desired.

Day 5

Breakfast (266 calories)

Egg Toast

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1/4 medium avocado, mashed
  • 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray)
  • Top toast with avocado and egg.
  • 1 clementine

Snack (64 calories)

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. hummus

Lunch (351 calories)

Apple & Cheddar Pita Pocket

  • 1 whole-wheat pita round (6-1/2-inch)
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard
  • 1/2 medium apple, sliced
  • 1 oz. Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • Cut pita in half and spread mustard inside. Fill with apple slices and cheese. Toast until the cheese begins to melt. Add greens and serve.

Snack (100 calories)

  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 4 walnut halves

Dinner (438 calories)

  • 1 2/3 cups Vegetarian Tikka Masala
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups spinach, steamed
  • 1/2 whole-wheat pita round (6-1/2-inch)

Day 6

Breakfast (264 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup muesli
  • 1/2 cup blueberries or other berries
  • Top yogurt with berries and muesli.

Snack (60 calories)

  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices
  • 2 Tbsp. hummus

Lunch (329 calories)

  • 1 2/3 cups Vegetarian Tikka Masala
  • 1/2 whole-wheat pita round (6-1/2-inch)
  • 2 cups spinach, steamed

Snack (147 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 4 walnut halves

Dinner (394 calories)

Pita Pizzas

  • 1 whole-wheat pita round (6-1/2-inch)
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz. pearl mozzarella balls
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Brush pita with 1 tsp. olive oil and top with tomato and mozzarella. Toast until cheese begins to melt. Top with basil just before serving.
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • Top greens with 1/2 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Day 7

Breakfast (297 calories)

Oatmeal with Fruit & Nuts

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked in 1/2 cup skim milk and 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 medium apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • Top oatmeal with apple, walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon.

Snack (47 calories)

  • 1/2 medium apple

Lunch (316 calories)

  • 2 Tomato-Cheddar Cheese Toasts
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • Combine salad ingredients and top with 1/2 Tbsp. each olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Snack (109 calories)

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

Dinner (400 calories)

  • 1 1/2 cups Farmers’ Market Fried Rice

Evening Snack (50 calories)

  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate chips, preferably dark chocolate

Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, protein and sodium. If a particular nutrient is of concern, consider speaking with your health-care provider about supplementation or altering this meal plan to better suit your individual nutrition needs.

Bon Appétit!


Deniz Taskin, was born and raised in Istanbul. She graduated from Ankara University, studied American Culture and Literature. While still in the college, she stepped into the journalism and worked for Hurriyet Media Group’s BlueJean Music Magazine. Later on, in order she worked for Marie Claire Maison and Bridal Magazine. Sabah Media Group’s Women Magazine, FHM and ATV advertising. Vatan Newspaper and as a Foreign News Editor for Hurriyet Newspaper internet.

She continue to work on internet publishing with her design blogs. Since 2001 contributing for us, in our diet content team.

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