More and more people eat vegetarian: for health reasons, care for the environment or animal welfare, to lose weight, … Do you want healthy vegetarian food? Substitutionally replace meat and fish with vegetable substitutes (nuts, legumes, soy-based products such as tofu, …). Combine them with each other or with milk products or eggs. Also eat enough iron-rich products such as whole grains, legumes, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, …
In the food triangle, the vegetarian finds a hold and plenty of vegetable alternatives. If you want to eat healthy vegetarian, you can build in alternatives for the essential nutrients that he or she will get from fish and meat. Because these high-quality proteins, vitamins (B12) and minerals (iron) ensure growth, building, and repair of tissue. Without these substances, you run the risk of shortages.
Are you an unconditional vegetarian? Then it is important that you replace meat in a full-fledged way. You can extract proteins from other foods: dairy products, cheese and eggs, and plant sources such as grains, legumes (including soya), nuts and seeds. Because vegetable proteins in general (soya excluded) have a lower quality than animal proteins, the need of vegetarians and vegans is somewhat higher. The Superior Health Council states that the protein requirement of vegetarians is 1.2 times higher and that of vegans 1.3 times higher than that of people with a mixed diet.
In a vegetarian diet, ensure sufficient iron-rich products. Good vegetable sources are wholegrain cereals, legumes, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, … Animal foods contain heme iron (Fe 2+ ), vegetable food mainly non-heme iron (Fe 3+ ). The latter takes your body less well: you have to eat more of it.
Vitamin C helps your body to absorb non-heme iron from plant foods. That is why we recommend eating vitamin C-rich products with your meal, for example, a kiwi or citrus fruit for dessert. Certain foods inhibit the absorption of iron: coffee, tea, red wine, oxalic acid-rich vegetables (such as spinach and rhubarb) and phytic acid-rich foods (in seeds, vegetables, nuts, and legumes). As a vegetarian, it is better not to combine it with iron-rich vegetable foods.
Vitamin B12 only occurs in animal products. That is why it is important that you eat enough milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs to get enough of it.
In a vegetarian diet without fish, you get relatively few omega-3 fatty acids.That is why we advise you to eat walnuts, soy products, oils such as linseed, nut and rapeseed oil, green leafy vegetables (such as purslane, lamb’s lettuce and spinach) and sea vegetables (such as nori and sea lavender). Another alternative is eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids (from chickens that have enriched food).
Replace meat and fish in your hot meal? You can do that with eggs and:
Legumes such as split and chickpeas, brown, red and white beans and lentils. Legumes are often confused with vegetables, but they can – in contrast to vegetables – replace meat if you combine them with another protein source, such as eggs. Princess and string beans and young peas are vegetables.
Seitan is a meat substitute based on wheat proteins. It is low in calories, contains little fat and no cholesterol.
Tempé and tofu (or bean curd) are substitute products based on soybeans. They are rich in calcium, vitamins, and iron.
Mycoprotein (fungi) such as Quorn and mushrooms contains little iron. Always put enough fresh vegetables on your menu when you eat mycoprotein. Quorn has a low energy content but quickly gives a saturated feeling. Mushrooms contain relatively little protein and no vitamin B12. Alternate with other substitute products.
Do you buy vegetable burgers and other ready-to-eat meat substitutes pre-packaged and pre-baked in the store? The nutritional value of these products is generally less good than that of other meat substitutes. They are also often breaded, so they absorb a lot of fat during baking. So they do not replace meat or vegetables.
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Not every vegetarian follows the same diet. Which type you are often is related to the reason why you opt for a vegetarian diet:
The pescotarian does not eat meat, but fish, crustaceans and shellfish, dairy products and eggs.
The lacto-ovo-vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, crustaceans or shellfish, but does not eat dairy products and eggs.
The lactose vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, crustaceans and shellfish, and eggs, but dairy products.
The flexitarian or semi-vegetarian does not eat meat several days a week but does not completely delete it.
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