Vegetarian Diet :- There’s loads of great nutritional value in lots of animal products, especially unprocessed meat. It’s a good source of iron and vitamin B, excellent source of protein, and products like oily fish and steak marbled with fat are full of omega-3s and other essential fatty acids.
However, we are seeing lots of evidence that vegetarian diets are just as good for you. In fact, one study has suggested a vegetarian diet isn’t only better for your health – it’s also cheaper. Even if you’re not going to fully commit to a plant-based diet, the pennies saved and health benefits should have you cracking out the best vegan cookbooks a few nights a week.
One study, published by the European Association for the Study of Obesity, looked at a healthy US diets that contained meats versus the Mediterranean diet plan and entirely vegetarian diets, for both nutritional quality and cost. The authors looked at a typical two weeks on each diet.
Results showed that the average nutritional quality scores of all three dietary patterns were similar, with the vegetarian diet scoring 85.3 out of a possible 100. The healthy US diet scored 84.3, while the Mediterranean diet plan scored 82.4.
However, the vegetarian diet was found to be significantly more affordable than the Mediterranean menu plan, costing around two dollars less than the other plans every day.
Vegan Meal Plan
Less meat and poultry products were (obviously) included in the vegan meal plan, although milk and eggs were still on the table. However, the study authors found the lack of animal products “did not affect nutritional quality and may have contributed to making this the most affordable menu plan.”
The vegetarian diet can be very expensive. However, vegan YouTube channel hosts BOSH! place the blame on pre-packaged vegan products, not whole produce.
BOSH’s Henry Firth said: “A lot of the time when people think it’s expensive. When they are going down the supermarket isle picking up packets that say vegan on them. So might be vegan sausages or vegan burgers, or vegan, fresh pasta, or any of the crazy things that have been launched. If you’re looking to save money, I think avoiding those products is a really good idea and just sticking to whole foods.”
It’s still possible to get your protein elsewhere: dairy products, eggs, soya and tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes all have a very high protein content. In addition, the vegetarian diet permits the use of whey-based protein powders, which are some of the best protein powders for weight loss, while plenty of vegan options are also available.
The end result? If you’re thinking of going vegetarian but still want to maintain a healthy diet, don’t panic: you won’t be deficient in proteins, vitamins or minerals as long as you plan your diet correctly.
If you’re a vegan, even more careful planning is required to ensure you’re fulfilling all your nutritional needs. However, it’s definitely doable – check out our guide to the health benefits and pitfalls of going vegan to make sure you’ve got all the right pieces in place.
Specifically, Gaffen says vegetarians and vegans should pay special attention to the following nutrients
“Beans, nuts, nut butters, tofu and the right complement of fruits and vegetables can contribute to a well-rounded diet,” says Dr. Cooper. “However, vegetarians and vegans should pay attention to vitamin B12 and iron, which are found in abundance in animal foods, and in lesser quantities in plant foods. Plant eaters should also learn some tricks for absorbing iron more efficiently, such as eating oranges or drinking orange juice when eating iron-rich leafy greens.”
Vegetarians who consume no dairy products (typically vegans) may have lower calcium intakes. So it’s important to try to get it from any source you can or consider a supplement.
Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in iron than omnivorous diets. But if the consumption of plant-based iron sources are consumed with large amounts of vitamin C, iron absorption can be increased. For that reason, vegetarians do not have a greater risk of iron-deficiency than those who aren’t vegetarians. And statistically, iron deficiency rates are similar between vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Vitamin B12 is not usually a concern for vegetarians who regularly consume eggs or dairy products (lacto-ovo-vegetarians). As vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products. Long-term vegans, however, may develop B12 deficiency anemia because they are not eating animal food sources. Therefore, vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B12.
While zinc is found in many foods. There are plant-based foods that can be included in the vegetarian diet to increase zinc intake like mushrooms, asparagus, corn, and broccoli.
While humans absorb omega-3s best from seafood, vegetarians and vegans will be relieved to know that alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Is a source of a small amount of omega-3s that you can get from plant-based sources.
A person’s vitamin D status depends mostly on sunlight exposure. As our skin has the incredible ability to transform the sun’s UV rays into vitamin D. But humans can also obtain vitamin D from eating foods that contain it. For vegetarians, those foods include egg yolks and fortified milk, while vegans may obtain vitamin D from some mushrooms. Supplementation may be warranted if a vegetarian or vegan is not able to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or food.
Related: 10 Nutrients to Make Sure You Get If You’re Following a Vegan Diet
Vegetarian vs vegan: What’s the difference from a health standpoint?
Both plant-based diets are healthy. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need.
“Plenty of research supports the health benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets, like reduced cholesterol and improved digestive regularity. Because animal proteins are included in a vegetarian diet which reduces the likelihood of deficiencies. It may be considered a healthier and more well-rounded diet,” Rifkin states. “A vegan diet can be very healthful as well. It would just require an individual to eat a varied and balanced diet, and likely include some supplementation to limit the incidence of nutrient deficiency.”
As with any diet, it’s crucial to follow proper nutritional guidelines to ensure optimal health.
“While both vegan and vegetarian diets can be healthy. They can also be dangerous or lead to poor nutrition if not properly implemented,” Jaramillo explains. “Generally, these diets are lower in fat, saturated fat, and total caloric intake than non-plant-based diets. There is not one diet that is ‘better’—it’s all about how balanced the nutrition is through the day.”
Dr. Cooper agrees. There is a great deal of evidence to support the benefits of eliminating red meat and adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
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“Either of these diets can be healthful if one is diligent about eating. A wide variety of foods to provide the body the valuable nutrients it needs to repair tissue. Fight disease and sustain important body functions,” says Dr. Cooper. “Some of the healthiest populations on earth eat plant foods almost exclusively. The bulk of scientific studies to date suggest that limiting red meat intake and increasing intake of fruits. Vegetables and whole grains can help people stay healthier and live longer.”