Have you recently thought about your food preferences or how many vegetarian meals you include regularly in your week?
Whether you want to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your repertoire or already follow a vegetarian diet, here are some insights into following a vegetarian meal plan.
Exploring Types of Vegetarian Diets: Which one is right for you?
This may come as a surprise to you, there are a number of types of vegetarian diets.
First things first, the traditional vegetarian diet excludes all meat, poultry, fish and seafood and focuses on fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, often dairy foods, sometimes eggs, as well as nuts and seeds. Specific variations of the vegetarian diet include:
- Lacto-vegetarian: Includes dairy and excludes eggs, meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Includes eggs and excludes dairy, meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Includes eggs and dairy foods and excludes meat, poultry, fish and other seafood.
- Pollo-vegetarian or pollotarian: Includes poultry, some may also include eggs and dairy, but excludes meat, fish and seafood.
- Pescatarian: Includes dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, and excludes meat and poultry.
- Pesce-pollotarian or pollo-pescatarian: Only excludes meat.
Recently, you may have also heard of the increasingly popular flexitarian diet. As the name implies, it is a flexible vegetarian diet, which includes some animal products in moderation but is mostly based on plant-based foods.
The Role of Protein in Vegetarian Meal Plans
Protein is responsible for cell growth and repair. It’s important for immune and nerve function, and for maintaining healthy muscles. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, animal sources of protein contain all nine amino acids which your body can’t make on its own.
When including vegetarian meals into your diet, it is important to remember to include a variety of sources of protein as only a few plant proteins contain all these amino acids.
Jenny Craig’s Vegetarian Meal Plans are designed by Accredited Practising Dietitians in accordance with national dietary guidelines, and on our meal plans, protein contributes 15-25% of daily energy intake.
Foods suitable for a vegetarian diet which are good sources of protein include:
- Legumes – such as kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, 4-bean mix, lentils, split peas
- Nuts and seeds, as well as nut and seed pastes and butters (go for unsalted)
- Soy products – such as, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk
- Dairy foods – such as, milk, cheese, yoghurt
Key Nutrients to Consider in a Vegetarian Diet
When following a vegetarian diet, it is recommended that you consume a wide variety of foods to provide your body with adequate vitamins and minerals to help meet your nutritional requirements.
Key nutrients to be mindful of when following a vegetarian menu are:
- Plant sources of iron such as soy products, beans and legumes, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables contain non-haem iron. This form of iron is not as easily absorbed in the body compared to haem iron from animal meat.
- To enhance the absorption of plant sources of iron, combine these foods with a Vitamin C rich food such as fruit (especially citrus fruit), tomatoes and capsicums.
- Vitamin B12 is most readily available in animal foods, such as meat, eggs and dairy foods. Vegetarian sources include, B12 fortified breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, soy milk and meat alternatives such as tofu.
- Dairy foods are a good source of calcium, where plant-based alternatives often have smaller amounts of calcium. When choosing dairy alternatives, aim to select products with added calcium, aiming for around 300mg calcium per serve.
- While sunlight and eggs are a source of Vitamin D, many dairy foods are often fortified with Vitamin D too. However, if you follow a type of vegetarian diet which excludes dairy foods and eggs, or you do not have regular exposure to sunlight, enhance your intake of Vitamin D by exposing your mushrooms to sunlight. You can also consider taking a supplement.
Top 3 Tips for Success on a Vegetarian Meal Plan
1. Keep portion sizes in check
Whether you follow a vegetarian or non-vegetarian diet, the same principles apply for weight loss success – eat less and move more. While you may be enjoying a healthy vegetarian meal, you still need to watch your portion sizes.
2. Balance your meals
Remember the healthy plate – aim to have ¼ of your plate filled with a protein source, ¼ with a source of carbohydrates and the remaining ½ of your plate filled with non-starchy vegetables. Having a healthy balanced plate each meal will help to keep you feeling satisfied.
3. Watch out for high-fat foods
Despite many vegetarian foods being healthy, you still need to be cautious of high-fat plant-based foods. These may include, higher-fat dairy foods, fried foods, cookies, chips and even coconut foods.
Remember to check the nutrition information panel and enjoy high-fat foods in moderation.
Vegetarian Weight Loss Plan on Jenny Craig
Losing weight while following a vegetarian diet can present unique challenges. At Jenny Craig, we understand these challenges and have designed a complete vegetarian weight loss plan. Our plan consists of over 50 nutritious and tasty meals and snacks suitable for Vegetarians. Backed by scientific principles, our program has proven to be effective in supporting weight loss.
Each menu in our vegetarian weight loss plan is meticulously crafted by Accredited Practising Dietitians. They ensure that the meals offer nutritional balance and a wide variety of options, promoting long-term success in your weight loss journey.
At Jenny Craig, we believe in providing personalised support to our vegetarian clients. Our personal coaches are here to help you create a menu plan that suits your specific needs and lifestyle. With their guidance, many vegetarian clients have successfully reached their weight loss goals.
If you’re a vegetarian looking to lose weight, Jenny Craig is here for you. Our vegetarian weight loss plan, along with the support of our personal coaches, can help you achieve your goals effectively.
Speak with one of our Personal Coaches to find out more information about our vegetarian menu plan. Or try out one of our healthy vegetarian recipes to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet!