Overview Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan

A well-planned vegetarian meal plan can be healthy and delicious. From hearty lentil soups to tasty vegetarian burgers, there are many interesting food choices. To be a healthy vegetarian, it is essential that you make sure you get all the nutrients you need. If you are a vegetarian or would like to become one, read on to find out how to build a healthy diet for you.

healthy vegetarian meal plans

The vegetarian diet is attracting more and more people: 4% of people are already vegetarians. However, this mode of eating is prey to heated debates between those who see it as the food of the future, and those who on the contrary consider it as a dangerous diet leading to deficiencies and to the questioning of our gastronomic traditions.

It is first necessary to understand what is behind this term. A vegetarian person does not consume animal flesh. He therefore does not eat meat or fish, but he can eat eggs or even dairy products. We must distinguish vegetarianism from veganism, which excludes any product from animals: it therefore bans eggs, dairy products (yogurts, cheese, etc.) or honey. This article is mainly about the vegetarian diet, not the vegan diet.

Types of Vegetarian Diets

There are different types of vegetarian diets. mostly people think about a vegetarian diet doesn’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude:

Lacto-vegetarian diets :- exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included.
Ovo-vegetarian diets :- exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.
Vegan diets :- exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.

Vegetarians who also eat fish and seafood are pescetarians or pesco-vegetarians.

A Vegetarian Diet Plan Can Suit Everyone

People of all ages and all stages of life, from babies to older adults, can follow a vegetarian diet plan. The important thing is to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. And if your child is a vegetarian, make sure they get all the nutrients they need to grow and develop well.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to include sources of vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consult your doctor, dietitian or health care provider about the possibility of taking a prenatal supplement.

If you are over 50, you will need a little more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. You may also want to consult your doctor, dietitian, or health care provider about supplements.

A well-planned vegetarian meal plan is a healthy choice

Vegetarian diets have many health benefits. A well-planned vegetarian diet for health is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and richer in fiber and vitamins like vitamins C and E than a meat diet.

Studies have also shown that a well-planned vegetarian diet can provide some protection against:

  • Cardiovascular illnesses
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Some cancers
  • Hypercholesterolemia.

Vegetarian Diet Meal Plan

A vegetarian diet meal plan can provide you with all the nutrients you need but some planning is necessary. Being a vegetarian does not guarantee good health. If you eat mostly breads, fried foods, cheese, white pasta and sweets and very little vegetables and protein, you may be missing some important nutrients. And as in any diet, the consumption of sweet, fatty or salty foods like crisps and baked goods should be limited.

Here is an example of a well-planned vegetarian diet:

  • Meal
  • Foods You Can Choose
  • Breakfast
  • Oatmeal, skim milk, banana, walnuts
  • Snack
  • Vegetables, hummus (chickpea spread)
  • Lunch
  • Tofu stir-fry with sweet chili sauce , quinoa , apple, water
  • Snack
  • Low-fat yogurt, fruit
  • Having dinner
  • Black bean burrito, salad, water
  • Snack
  • Dried fruits, unsalted almonds, skim milk

Before adopting a vegetarian diet for health, be sure to consult your doctor, health care provider, or registered dietitian.

Meet all your nutrient needs

Here are the nutrients you should pay special attention to if you are an ovo-lacto-vegetarian:

Proteins:

  • Proteins help keep your red blood cells and muscles working properly. Vegetarian sources of protein include dairy, legumes (beans, lentils, peas) , soy , nuts , seeds , eggs, and whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat.

Zinc:

  • Zinc helps heal wounds and boosts the immune system. You can find zinc in legumes , nuts , seeds and whole grains .

Iron :

Iron  participates in the transport of oxygen in the body. Vegetarians need about twice as much iron as non-vegetarians, because we do not absorb iron from plant foods as well as that from meat. Iron is found in:

  • Legumes
  • Fortified pasta and cereals
  • Prunes, raisins and apricots
  • Quinoa
  • Molasses
  • Dark green vegetables

Omega-3 fats:

  • Omega-3 fats promote heart health in adults and brain and eye development in babies. They are found mainly in fish and seafood. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats are fortified soy beverages and orange juice, omega-3 eggs, tofu,canolaoil, l oil, flax seeds and walnuts.

Vegetarian Diet Nutrient Deficiency

Vegetarian Diet Nutrient Deficiency

Another argument against the vegetarian diet for weight loss that often comes up is iron deficiency, which is mainly found in meat. However, you should know that there are two types of iron:

Read Here – How to Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet

heme iron : it is brought by products of animal origin (except the egg), in particular by red meat. It is easily absorbed by the body. However, it is harmful to the body in high quantities: the excess of heme iron leads to the development of free radicals, which are involved in the appearance of cancers.

non-heme iron : it is mainly provided by plants and eggs. The drawback of non-heme iron is that it is less easily assimilated than heme iron, that is to say that it is less easily absorbed by the body. Among the plants richest in non-heme iron are spirulina, legumes, tofu, quinoa, nuts, raisins, sesame/sunflower seeds, avocado.

Top Vegetarian Protein Sources – INFOGRAPHIC

vegetarian diet high protein

This is one of the arguments we hear most often:  vegetarians have protein deficiencies, because proteins are found in meat and fish (see our article on proteins ). Vegetarians can eat eggs and dairy products like yogurt or cheese, which are good sources of protein.

There are also many sources of vegetable protein likes,

  • Soy
  • Red beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Wholegrain rice
  • Quinoa, etc.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are sort of “mini-proteins” which play a fundamental role in the functioning of our organism: they do not only serve to make muscle, they also play an essential role in defense of our immune system or in the functioning of our nervous system. Some amino acids can be made by our body from our food, but others must be provided by food because our body does not know how to make them: these are the 8 essential amino acids (there are 9 in the child).

The historical reference in terms of amino acids is the egg : it contains all 8 essential amino acids in ideal proportions. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Apart from the egg, no animal or vegetable protein alone has an optimal supply of essential amino acids. They all have a limited content of certain essential amino acids: it is the complementarity of these proteins which ensures an essential amino acid supply in the ideal proportions. Among vegetable proteins, cereals for example have a limited content of lysine, and legumes lack methionine.

In a vegetarian diet recipe, it is entirely possible to combine vegetable protein sources in order to ensure an optimal supply of essential amino acids.  This combination can be done within the day and not necessarily within the same meal. Thus, the combination of cereals and legumes generally ensures a complete supply (example: semolina and chickpeas, rice and lentils, corn and red beans, etc.).

7 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan

7 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan

Probably, research shows that vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index than their counterparts who eat meat. If you do it right, that is, by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you will probably feel full with fewer calories than you are entitled to each day. With this calorie deficit and a little physical activity, you will surely lose weight.

Some vegetarians go hungry and put on weight. Why? This is because they choose industrialized preparations or foods that in their chemical composition have components that stimulate the appetite (for example, refined flours and visible and hidden sugars ) or are not appropriate to maintain a healthy weight.

Therefore, if you choose to be a vegetarian, it will be a matter of choosing recipes and preparations that facilitate good health, avoid weight gain and provide you with the necessary satiety so that you are not aware of snacking on food and/or improper preparations because you stayed hungry.

Vegetarian Meal Plan for Weight Loss

Here is a balanced and healthy vegetarian weekly meal plan to lose weight without sacrifices. To facilitate the monitoring of the plan, you can find the recipes for each of the dishes in the links to my website.

MealFoods you may choose
Breakfasts and snacks
  • 1 glass of skim milk.
  • 2 slices of whole-grain bread 3 bowls of cereal (unroasted).
Meals :(choose two options)
  • 1 hard-boiled egg.
  • 1 handful of dried fruits (when included in any preparation, do not include them).
  • 15 raisins of grapes (when included in any preparation, do not include them).
  • 8 olives.
  • 1 unripe banana (medium).
  • 10 large grapes.
  • 1 small portion of lean compact cheese (30 g): twice a week.
  • 1 fresh fruit.
Lunches and dinners: amounts of food by item
  • Raw and/or steamed vegetables: 1 soup plate.
  • Potato, sweet potato, corn (raw, 1 cup of tea), burgoo, quinoa or buckwheat, millet, brown rice, other whole grains, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, soybeans): 1 cover of tea (already cooked).
  • Thick rolled noodles and pasta, dry noodles cooked al dente: 1 medium plate (already cooked).
  • Condiments: all necessary to enhance the flavor: pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, cumin, cloves, basil, minced garlic, etc.
  • Miso: ½ teaspoon of tea per meal, to add to the preparations.
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon of tea (per meal).
  • Avoid or decrease salt.
  • Fresh fruit: 1 unit after each meal of which 1 citrus or 1 kiwi (due to its contribution of vitamin C, which favors the absorption of non-heme: non-animal iron).

Day Wise Vegetarian Meal Plan

Day 1

  • Lunch: risotto with mushrooms, you can add some vegetables. Salad of all raw and steamed colors.
  • Dinner: salad of all colors raw and/or steamed, add green leaves. 2 corn empanadas with light white sauce.

Day 2

  • Lunch: buckwheat paella and vegetables. Incorporate green vegetables.
  • Dinner: millet with dried fruit. Salad of all raw and steamed colors.

Day 3

  • Lunch: broccoli omelet. Salad of all raw and/or steamed colors. Incorporate legumes.
  • Dinner: meatballs curry with cheese. Salad of all raw and/or steamed colors.

Day 4

  • Lunch: macaroni with bolognese. Salad of all raw and steamed colors.
  • Dinner: avocado and walnut salad. Add whole grains or sweet potato and soy.

Day 5

  • Lunch: potato and spinach omelet. Salad of all raw and steamed colors.
  • Dinner: salad of all colors raw and steamed. 2 servings of basic pizza filled with vegetables, soy, corn, peas, eggs, cheese, and olives.

Day 6

  • Lunch: mushrooms stuffed with burgoo wheat. Salad of all raw and / or steamed colors.
  • Dinner: salad of all colors raw and/or steamed. Add chickpea salad.

Day 7

  • Lunch: green salad. 2 spinach and ricotta patties.
  • Dinner: pickled aubergines. Salad of all colors raw and steamed with quinoa.

How to become a vegetarian when you are addicted to meat?

If on paper, we can be convinced, in practice it is often much less simple and difficult to put on a daily basis. This is why something called flexitarianism, or semi-vegetarianism , which is a more flexible version of the vegetarian diet, was born quite recently .

A flexitarian consumes meat and fish but much more occasionally and favors quality over quantity. The flexitarian regime makes it possible to limit or even exclude processed meat, which is the most problematic, and to favor quality cuts of meat (local breeding, animals raised in the open air, no use of GMOs, etc.) .

As for pescetarism , it excludes meat but preserves fish and seafood. It thus allows to benefit from the benefits of fish and other seafood rich in Omega-3, very beneficial fatty acids that we do not consume enough today.

Today, these alternatives are attracting more and more people who are concerned about their health and the environment, but for whom vegetarianism is still too restrictive. These alternatives are a good first step to move towards a more vegetable diet. Because reducing your consumption of meat is not just a fad today: it is a real health and environmental necessity.

In summary:

A well-planned vegetarian diet benefits can be healthy for people of all ages and can provide you with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. But planning is essential!


Further Reading