It’s possible to get adequate nutrition if you follow a well-planned vegetarian diet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have a lower body mass index, eat fewer calories and have lower rates of obesity and cardiovascular diseases. A 1, 200-calorie meal plan is typically used for weight loss; therefore weight loss is usually successful when combined with a vegetarian meal plan. Consult a physician before you adopt any type of vegetarian diet.
Types of vegetarian diets include semi-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian and vegan. Semi-vegetarianism is the most liberal form of the diet and typically includes fish or chicken, eggs, dairy products and plant-based foods. Lacto-ovo vegetarians omit meat, chicken and fish but consume eggs, dairy products and plant-based foods. Lacto-vegetarians consume only dairy products and plant-based foods, while vegans only consume plant-based foods.
A 1, 200-calorie diet is a low-calorie plan that typically results in weight loss for most adults. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 1, 000- to 1, 200-calorie meal plans will help most adult women lose weight, and 1, 200- to 1, 600-calorie plans are effective for most active women and women over 164 Ibs. If you regularly feel hungry on a 1, 200-calorie vegetarian diet, the NHLBI recommends bumping up your daily calories slightly, by about 100 to 200 per day. If weight loss is your goal, the American Dietetic Association encourages a 1 to 2 Ib. per week rate of weight loss as an initial goal.
When consuming a low-calorie vegetarian diet, it’s important to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of nutrients commonly found in omitted foods, such as meat. The American Dietetic Association identifies important nutrients for vegetarians as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iodine, iron, zinc, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. If you’re not getting sufficient amounts of these key nutrients from your diet, or if you’re unsure you are, your doctor may recommend taking a multivitamin supplement to help prevent deficiencies.
Sample Meal Plans
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 provides sample lacto-ovo vegetarian and vegan meal plans for different calorie levels. For example, 1, 200-calorie lacto-ovo vegetarian meal plan consists of 1 cup of fruits; 1 1/2 cups of vegetables; 3 oz. of protein foods, such as eggs, soy products, legumes, nuts or seeds; 4 oz. of grains; 2 1/2 cups of dairy products; 13 g of oils; and 121 calories from solid fats and added sugars each day.