Sample Health Plans for Vegetarian Men and Women

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A vegetarian diet is one that does not include meat. Some people adopt this type of diet for religious or ethical reasons, while others do so for health reasons. There are many different ways to follow a vegetarian diet, and there are also many different benefits that come with doing so, however, there are also some drawbacks.

One of the main benefits of following a vegetarian diet is that it can help to improve your overall health. This is because a vegetarian diet typically includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are all packed with essential nutrients. Additionally, following a vegetarian diet is that it can help you to lose weight. This is because a vegetarian diet tends to be lower in calories than one that includes meat.

However, not all vegetarian diets are healthy. Some vegetarians may not get enough protein, iron, or other nutrients if they do not eat the right foods. It is important to plan your meals carefully to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. The aim of this article is to provide you with a simple and healthy vegetarian diet plan you can follow without the risk of missing out on important nutrients. Carry on reading to find out how to be a healthy vegetarian.

Vegetarian diet plan for men

The following plan is going to aim to provide adequate reference intake of calories and macronutrients for a vegetarian male and give advice on how to structure meals according to the Eatwell Plate principles.

Reference intakes for a typical male(1):

  • 2500 kcal
  • 55g protein
  • 300g carbohydrates (including sugars)
  • 120g sugars
  • 95g of fat
  • 30g of saturated fats
  • 6g of salt

General advice(2):

  • Be aware that your body requires not only macro but also micronutrients in adequate amounts to function properly and that inability to provide them in sufficient quantities may lead to malnutrition
  • Try to provide roughly the amount of macronutrients and micronutrients listed in the reference intakes
  • Try to note down what you eat, if you struggle, you can use smartphone apps such as MyFitnessPal or Fitatu or use Cronometer, which lists all the micronutrients content alongside the macronutrients that you record
  • Try to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables (frozen, canned, dried or fruit juices allowed) as they contain minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients (antioxidants, polyphenols, anthocyanins) which support bodily functions
  • Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates to provide steady fuel for your body throughout the day, have some dairy or daily alternatives and some protein sources such as beans, tofu, dairy again (e.g. kefir, yoghurt), pulses or eggs as protein provides your body with amino acids, which are building blocks for bodily tissues
  • Have some dairy (including eggs) or alternatives (such as soy, almond and rice drinks, but make sure they are calcium and vitamin B12 fortified)
  • Include some seeds and nuts because of their calcium, magnesium and healthy fat content
  • Reduce the intake of saturated fats and swap them with unsaturated fats
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to ensure proper hydration
  • Limit the intake of foods high in fat, salt and sugar
  • Include eggs, pulses, dried fruits and raisins, dark green vegetables (spinach, okra, cabbage, broccoli, spring greens, watercress), whole grains and iron-fortified cereals to provide iron as iron is an important mineral that is required by the body in the processes of development and growth, it is used to make haemoglobin and required to produce some hormones
  • Consume linseed (or linseed oil), rapeseed oil, soya oil and soya-based products to provide omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Provide zinc by eating wholegrains (e.g. buckwheat), legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Make sure you regularly expose yourself to the sun and include some mushrooms (especially shiitake) within your diet to provide vitamin D3, because it supports the immune system
  • Try to exercise regularly to stay healthy

This plan aims to give general advice on the nutritional guidelines that comply with Eatwell Plate principles for a vegetarian male. Mentioned products are listed as implementing them within a vegetarian diet increases the chance of meeting daily nutritional requirements for a typical, healthy man. The list mentions vegetarian calcium products, such as leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds for their calcium content and also legumes (such as beans, lentils, peas etc.), nuts, dried fruits and raisins, dark leafy greens, whole grains and fortified cereals for their iron content. Sources of vitamin B12 are also mentioned (fortified soy products, fortified cereals, drinks, etc. and dairy products such as yoghurt, milk, and kefir, which also contains healthy gut bacteria and eggs) along with instructing one to ensure that they provide their bodies with adequate water amount. The importance of iron has also been mentioned. Advice given aims to ensure that other micronutrients are also supplied within the diet, therefore products like chia seeds or linseed oil have also been mentioned to highlight the need for omega-3 fatty acids. Similar circumstances apply to the vegetarian protein sources – the advice given above also mentions such products and highlights the importance of protein. Reference intakes are given as a guideline and smartphone applications along with other websites are listed to help one track down what they eat, sources of vitamin D3 are also mentioned as well as regular physical activity is proposed.

Vegetarian diet plan for women

The following plan is going to aim to provide adequate reference intake of calories and macronutrients for a vegetarian female and give advice on how to structure meals according to the Eatwell Plate principles.

Reference intakes for a typical female(1):

  • 2000 kcal
  • 50g protein
  • 260g carbohydrates
  • 90g sugar
  • 70g fat
  • 20g of saturated fats
  • 6g of salt

General advice(2):

  • During 19-50 years of age, additional iron in the diet will be required due to menstruation (women lose iron with their blood during their periods) compared to men, elder women (after their menopause) or young girls. It is important because iron is a mineral required by the body to support the processes for development and growth and to create haemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to other body parts. It is also required to produce certain hormones.
  • Make sure that you provide enough micronutrients if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, pay additional attention to folic acid (which can be found in legumes, asparagus, eggs, leafy greens, beets, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds, papaya and bananas and also avocados and fortified grains) and vitamin B12 as you will need more vitamin B12 (can be found in yeast extracts such as Marmite which is fortified in vitamin B12, fortified cereals and drinks such as soy or rice drinks and also in dairy and eggs) during such periods
  • If pregnant or breastfeeding it is also recommended to eat a varied diet to ensure adequate micronutrient intake, pay more attention to fruits and vegetables and consult a nutritionist or dietitian to ensure that all necessary nutrients are provided within the diet
  • Consume more calories during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods, recommended caloric intake can be consulted with a nutritionist or dietitian
  • Try to exercise regularly to stay healthy, but consult a doctor if you’re pregnant to get their permission for physical activity as vigorous exercise might be contraindicated during the late stages of pregnancy
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Be aware that your body requires not only macro but also micronutrients in adequate amounts to function properly and that inability to provide it with them in correct quantities may lead to malnutrition
  • Try to provide roughly the amount of macronutrients and micronutrients listed in the reference intakes
  • Try to note down what you eat, if you struggle, you can use smartphone apps such as MyFitnessPal or Fitatu or alternatively use Cronometer, which lists all the micronutrients content alongside the macronutrients that you record
  • Try to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables (frozen, canned, dried or fruit juices allowed) as they contain minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients (antioxidants, polyphenols, anthocyanins) which support bodily functions
  • Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates to provide steady fuel for your body throughout the day, have some dairy or daily alternatives, some protein sources such as beans, tofu, dairy again (yoghurt, kefir, skyr), pulses or eggs as protein provides your body with amino acids, which are building blocks for bodily tissues
  • Have some dairy (including eggs) or alternatives (such as soy, almond and rice drinks, but make sure they are calcium and vitamin B12 fortified)
  • Include some seeds and nuts because of their calcium, magnesium and healthy fat content
  • Reduce the intake of saturated fats and swap them with unsaturated fats
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to ensure proper hydration
  • Limit the intake of foods high in fat, salt and sugar
  • Include eggs, pulses, dried fruits and raisins, dark green vegetables, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals to provide iron
  • Consume linseed (or linseed oil), rapeseed oil, soya oil and soya-based products to provide omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Provide zinc by eating wholegrains (e.g. buckwheat), legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Make sure you regularly expose yourself to the sun and include some mushrooms (especially shiitake) within your diet to provide vitamin D3, which supports the immune system

Similarly to the health plan for a vegetarian male, this plan (which is intended for a female) aims to provide a typical woman with her reference intake guidelines, general healthy eating advice that complies with the Eatwell Plate principles and provide additional advice for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women as during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods women will typically require a bit more calories and more micronutrients. Different reference intakes are given for women as they typically require fewer calories and less protein. Women 19-50 years old will also require more iron within the diet as they lose blood during menstruation. This fact along with suggestions of iron sources have been mentioned in the plan. Sources of certain micronutrients are mentioned and a consultation with a doctor and/or dietitian is proposed if pregnant to make sure that there are no contraindications to exercise during pregnancy and sufficient nutrients are provided within the diet. The plan also mentions the importance of vitamin D3 as it supports the immune system (similarly to zinc). Another important piece of information that is mentioned is to avoid cigarettes and alcohol if pregnant or breastfeeding for the sake of the baby’s health. This health plan is originally designed for healthy women, so if the woman is suffering from any chronic illnesses a consultation with a doctor is recommended.

References:

  1. BBC Good Food, A balanced diet for vegetarians, accessed on 26/06/21, available at: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/balanced-diet-vegetarian
  2. NHS, The vegetarian diet, accessed on 26/06/21, available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegetarian-diet/

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