The vegetarian diet is a societal phenomenon that is on the rise. What benefits does this dietary pattern present? On the contrary, does it not cause deficiencies? Precautions, menu ideas, advantages, and disadvantages … We take stock.
Definition: What is a vegetarian diet?
The vegetarian diet is a dietary mode based on the exclusion of all foods rich in animal proteins (meat and poultry, fish) but admitting however the foods derived from animals such as eggs, milk, dairy products as well as honey. You have understood, this diet is based on the consumption of plants (fruits and vegetables), cereals, pulses (lentils, split peas, dried beans …). Another trend is flexitarians or semi-vegetarians, who reduce their meat consumption to the benefit of fish and vegetable protein.
Benefits of the vegetarian diet
Well designed, it is healthy, nutritionally adequate and beneficial for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, provided that milk, dairy products, and eggs are included. Exit then the nutritional deficiencies!
Menu idea: example of a typical day
Oatmeal drinkMuesli without added sugar + 1 small handful of almonds
Mashed salad with fresh herbs
Omelet with peppers and potatoes
Lentils with small vegetables
This diet is indicated to fight against constipation.
Who is it for?
For all those who must reduce the intake of protein with saturated fats such as chronic renal failure, it is particularly indicated. Given its high level of dietary fiber, it is ideal for helping to fight constipation, its low fat intake helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Also, it is indicated for all those who are concerned about their well-being to be food, whether by personal conviction or religious reason or for ecological and environmental reasons.
Attention, a study of 2017 puts forward that the syndrome of the irritable colon would be more present at the vegetarians and the vegans. To avoid then if you present an irritable bowel syndrome.
By what to replace the meat?
Meat or fish can be replaced with cereals and pulses at each meal to consume enough protein. For ovo-lacto-vegetarians, that is to say, those who authorize the consumption of eggs and dairy products, an iron supply is ensured. Moreover, since the latter provides more variety, it is much easier to follow in the long term.
Tips to avoid deficiencies
To avoid deficiencies, it is necessary that food diversification is sufficient for paying particular attention to the amount of protein consumed at each meal. The absence of animal protein must be compensated by a sufficient supply of protein from eggs, cereals (wheat, rice, barley, oats, corn …) present in particular in bread, pasta, flour …, legumes (soy, lentils, beans …) and oleaginous crops (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts …). It is also necessary during each meal to combine cereals with legumes to provide all the amino acids needed by the body.
To avoid iron deficiency, you must consume eggs, legumes, parsley, salad. It is recommended to eat at each meal fruits or vegetables rich in vitamin C that promote the absorption of iron and avoid coffee, tea or wine that decreases its absorption.
It should be noted that flexitarianism avoids certain errors by a better antioxidant profile and a diet based on foods with a low glycemic index.
Contraindications to a vegetarian diet
This diet is not recommended for children because of the deficiencies it could cause. Pregnant women should be cautious because their iron needs are greater. They will have to consume more eggs (cooked) whose proteins are of excellent biological quality with a good contribution to amino acids.
Disadvantages of a vegetarian diet
It is a difficult food mode to follow outside your home and the risk of iron, vitamin B12 and zinc deficiency due to the lack of meat products is inevitable. Hence the interest of supplementation. Similarly, the lack of fish on the menu may cause a deficiency of omega-3 if not offset by the consumption of vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil.
Council of the dietitian
The varied vegetarian meals are balanced. We should just be careful with the intake of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Well-conducted, this type of diet is not a problem in contrast to the vegan diet that inevitably exposes to nutritional deficiencies.
Vegan diet: what does vegan eat?
Between food scandals, environmental problems, animal conditions … The consumption of meat is more and more challenged in France. If some become vegetarians, flexitarians, others push the approach further by becoming vegans. What is it about? Which menu for example?