A vegetarian diet is a plant-based eating pattern that excludes meat and sometimes other animal-derived products. It’s a dietary choice that has gained popularity for its health benefits, ethical considerations, and environmental impact. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about what comes in a vegetarian meal plan delivery, including its various forms and the key nutrients to focus on.
Types of vegetarian diets
This is the most common type of vegetarian diet, which excludes meat but includes dairy products (Lacto) and eggs (ovo). Lacto-ovo vegetarians have a wide variety of food options, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and various plant-based foods.
Lacto-vegetarians exclude meat and eggs but consume dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. This diet provides a good source of calcium and protein from dairy.
Ovo-vegetarians exclude meat and dairy products but include eggs in their diet. Eggs are a versatile source of protein and essential nutrients for ovo-vegetarians.
Vegans follow the strictest form of vegetarianism, excluding all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and even honey. They rely entirely on plant-based foods for their nutrition.
Key nutrients in a vegetarian diet
Plant-based sources of protein include beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, and seeds. Combining different protein sources can ensure you get a complete range of essential amino acids.
While plant-based sources of iron (non-heme iron) are not as easily absorbed as heme iron found in meat, they can be enhanced by consuming vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron sources. Good plant-based iron sources include spinach, lentils, tofu, and fortified cereals.
Dairy products are a rich source of calcium for Lacto-vegetarians, but vegans can obtain calcium from fortified plant milk, leafy greens (like collard greens and kale), fortified orange juice, and tofu made with calcium sulfate.
Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, so vegans should consider taking B12 supplements or consuming B12-fortified foods like plant-based milk or cereals.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Include sources of omega-3s in your diet, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and hemp seeds. These can help support heart and brain health.
Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure, to fortified foods like plant-based milk, or supplements. It’s crucial for bone health.
Vegetarian diets tend to be high in fiber, thanks to the abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. This promotes digestive health and helps with weight management.