Cut back on meat for a week with this 7-day vegetarian meal plan recommended by a registered dietitian – Business Insider India


Posted: December 27, 2020 at 8:56 am

The vegetarian diet is a popular way of eating thanks to growing research on the health and environmental benefits of reducing meat, as well as concern for animal welfare.

Though the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras was an early proponent of going meatless, humans were probably eating more wild plants than animals for the majority of history, long before the advent of agriculture.

So if you're interested in giving vegetarianism a try, here's a 7-day vegetarian meal plan to try - as well as some additional insight into the benefits and potential drawbacks of this popular diet.

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If you're just starting a vegetarian diet, registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist Jenna Gorham recommends the following 7-day meal plan. Make sure to adjust portion sizes to your own caloric needs.

Snack: Fruit and veggie smoothie

Dinner: Black bean enchiladas

Lunch: Avocado toast on whole-wheat bread

Snack: Hummus and crudits

Breakfast: Yogurt parfait with berries and grain-free muesli

Snack: Fruit and nut trail mix

Lunch: Lentil soup

Snack: Crunchy roasted broad beans

Breakfast: Protein smoothie bowl with fruit and veggies, milled flaxseed, and plant-based protein powder, topped with chopped nuts

Lunch: Falafel platter with tahini sauce and salad

Breakfast: 2-ingredient banana pancakes made with mashed banana and eggs (add cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste)

Snack: Peanut butter oat-based energy bites with flaxseed and coconut

Lunch: Lentil stuffed peppers

Snack: Cashew yogurt

Research suggests that there are numerous advantages to going vegetarian.

"Vegetarians tend to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, and more Vitamins C and E, folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals," says Michelle Zive, a registered dietitian and NASM-certified nutrition coach.

Here are just some of the specific benefits that can come from going meatless.

Multiple studies have shown that going vegetarian may protect your heart by simultaneously lowering your LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, as well as your blood pressure.

Studies show that vegetarians have a lower BMI than meat-eaters and, when combined with a calorie-restricted plan, a vegetarian diet can lead to more weight loss than those which include meat.

One of the reasons why vegetarianism may result in weight loss is that vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, beans, and other staples of this diet are high in fiber, which can help keep you feeling full for longer. These staples are also usually lower in calories per serving than fatty meat and dairy products.

"Nuts, seeds, cheese, and dairy are all high in calories since they are high in fat," she says. "The key is to watch portion sizes, and in the case of eating dairy, look for low-fat and nonfat options. But watch out for low-fat options that are high in sugar."

Decreased inflammation

Reduced risk of certain diseases

Current research on the link between vegetarianism and cancer is limited to observational studies, so scientists have yet to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. Still, some research has indicated that vegetarian diets may be related to a lower risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer.

Zive also says that some vegetarians should particularly avoid depending on processed foods which can be high in fat, sodium, and sugar, and may be linked to a higher risk of cancer.

Nearly anyone can benefit from a vegetarian diet because the focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains means a higher intake of dietary fiber, and usually a reduced intake of saturated fat.

While a vegetarian diet is considered healthy for most people, it's important to eat a wide variety of produce, legumes, and grains to minimize your risk of any nutritional deficiencies - and opt for fortified foods when necessary, particularly if you're eliminating eggs or dairy products.

In order to reap the most rewards from this diet, experts caution against eating a lot of highly processed foods and advise choosing whole foods whenever possible.

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Cut back on meat for a week with this 7-day vegetarian meal plan recommended by a registered dietitian - Business Insider India

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