Vegetarian Diet: What is it, how to make it, and menu
Whether for health, religion, or personal values, many people have adopted the vegetarian diet, which eliminates meat (from any animal) from the menu.
The food strategy is also an alternative for those looking to lose weight because it comprises low-calorie foods (primarily fruits, vegetables, and greens) and abolishing animal foods, contributing to lower fat levels—saturated and deficient cholesterol on the menu.
Studies showing a low prevalence of overweight and obesity among vegetarians also helped reinforce the concept of possible effects of diet in the pursuit of weight loss.
Popular, the act of abolishing meat from everyday life has already won many followers in Brazil: according to a 2018 Ibope survey commissioned by the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, 14% of the Brazilian population is vegetarian (about 30 million people). Moreover, according to data from the sector, the market for products in this segment has increased around 40% in the last two years.
There is not just one type of vegetarian diet The most common is ovolactovegetarian, which usually includes some foods of animal origin, such as eggs and milk and dairy products, honey, and other bee products. All types of meat, however, are banned. And that includes fish and seafood.
Advantages of Vegetarian Diet
A diet based on plant foods has a low caloric density and a reduced amount of total fat, saturated, and cholesterol, which can favour weight loss and keep fat blood levels down, thus preventing cardiovascular diseases. With a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fibre, vitamins, and minerals are within the recommended levels. With the high consumption of fibre, proper functioning of the intestine and the feeling of satiety are also favoured.
Science has shown that excluding (or at least reducing) in consuming foods of animal origin yields health benefits. For example, a study at the University of Oxford, England, found that those who do not eat meat have a lower risk of developing some types of cancer.
Another research from the same institution concluded that following a 100% vegetarian menu drops by 32% the probability of having a blockage in the heart’s arteries, which leads to a heart attack.
How to make a vegetarian diet rich in protein?
Protein is usually used in 15% to 35% of the total caloric volume of a healthy diet. The vegetarian diet must meet this need from vegetable proteins, such as pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy), seeds (sunflower, sesame, flaxseed), oilseeds (chestnuts, walnuts, almonds), tofu, quinoa, and spirulina (found in capsules). In the case of non-vegans (restricted vegetarians or ovolactovegetarians), dairy and egg products can be added.
By restricting the consumption of some foods, we stop ingesting essential nutrients for our bodies. For example, in vegetarianism, by excluding those of animal origin, we are not consuming nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc.
Calcium is a mineral that participates in the formation and maintenance of teeth and bones, a drastic restriction in its long-term consumption can favour the development of osteoporosis. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is a micronutrient found exclusively in animal products and used in the synthesis of red blood cells, acting in the prevention of anaemia.
Iron is one of the biggest concerns when evaluating those following the diet. Like vitamin B12, this mineral is a fundamental component of red blood cells, as, together with haemoglobin, it transports oxygen in the bloodstream. Again, steaks are the primary source of this nutrient. They are also found in dark green vegetables and legumes, but in this case, it is necessary to be absorbed into the association with vitamin C.
Zinc, also found in meat, is essential for synthesizing many enzymes and plays a critical role in protein formation and cell division. Therefore, doctors or nutritionists must monitor eating style followers. These professionals can guide them by indicating possible alternatives to supply these nutrients, usually achieved through supplementation.
Vegetarian menu suggestion
OPTION 1 • tapioca (2 tablespoons/hydrated gum soup) filled with scrambled eggs (1 egg + 1 white) • 1 mashed banana with one tablespoon. (dessert) of cashew nut paste without sugar and one col. ( coffee) of cinnamon
OPTION 2 • Protein smoothie 1: 1 pot of natural low-fat Greek yoghurt shaken with 1 cup. (coffee) of water, 1 cup. (tea) of chopped mango 1/2 passion fruit pulp, one col. (coffee) of turmeric and one col. (dessert) of honey (or molasses) • 3 small brown rice crackers with one col. (dessert) of tahini and one strand of love (or molasses)
OPTION 3 • Protein smoothie 2: 1 small glass (150 ml) of vegetable drink (cashew or almond) mixed with one col. (soup) of pea rice protein supplement, one medium frozen banana, and one col. (dessert) cocoa powder • 1 whole-grain toast with one col. (soup) mashed avacado salt, and lemon
OPTION 1 • 1 jar of natural low-fat Greek yoghurt with one col. granula (soup)
OPTION 2 • 3 small brown rice crackers with mashed tofu, turmeric, and salt
OPTION 3 • 2 col. (Soup) of a mix of fruits, nuts, and seeds (raisins, cranberries , Brazil nuts, shelled pumpkin seeds )
OPTION 1 • Salad with tofu sauce: 1 dish (shallow) with mixed leaves ( lettuce , arugula, watercress), two cols. (soup) of grated carrot and two cols. (soup) of chopped hearts of palm with two cols. (soup) of tofu sauce (in a processor, beat 40 g of firm tofu with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, three tablespoons of water, 1/2 garlic clove and salt) • 2 tablespoons. (soup) of manioc puree • 1 medium scoop of beans with little broth • 2 col. (soup) of diced beets, braised and sprinkled with chopped chives
OPTION 2 • pasta with grains and vegetables: 2 cols. (to serve) of whole penne cooked al dente, three cols. (soup) of cooked chickpeas, 1/2 cup. (tea) of toato cherry , 1/2 cup. (tea) Japanese pumpkin in cubes with the skin and 1 cup. (high tea) of roasted broccoli with salt and one col. (dessert) of extra virgin olive oil
OPTION 3 • Salad with leaves and walnuts: 1 dish (shallow) of red lettuce and cabbage in strips, five cherry tomatoes, one col. (soup) of toasted walnuts, one col. (chowder ) Extra virgin olive oil, the vinegar of apple and salt • 2 col. (broth ) of brown rice • 4 col. (bisque ) of lentils • 3 col. (soup) of sauteed mushrooms • 3 grilled zucchini slices with one drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
OPTION 1 • 3 col. (soup) of boiled cassava with two cols. cottage cheese (soup)
OPTION 2 • 4 slices of bakedsweet potato with tofupiry
OPTION 3 • Coconut and chia tapioca
OPTION 1 • 1 medium bowl of lentil soup • 1 (flat) dish of zucchini and eggplant in grilled slices, one drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and herbs (thyme, oregano)
OPTION 2 • Mixed salad: 1 plate (shallow) of coloured leaves (lettuce, arugula, radicchio), fennel strips, two cols. (soup) of grated carrots, two cols. (soup) of chickpeas cooked with one col. (dessert) of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, saline, in addition to herbs • Omelet: 2 eggs, 1/2 chopped tomato, and fresh basil leaves
OPTION 3 • 1 serving of zucchini and tofu lasagna
OPTION 1 • 1 small glass (150 ml) of cashew nut drink with one col. (tea) cinnamon powder
OPTION 2 • 2 col. (soup) of avocado with one col. (coffee) of honey (or molasses) and one col. (tea) cocoa powder
OPTION 3 • 1 col. (soup) of a mix of nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds without the husk).