Healthier food habits when you’re a vegetarian or a vegan

A lot of diets, particularly those aimed at weight loss, tend to include lean meats which are an awesome way to get loads of protein into your diet, but what do you do if you are a vegetarian or vegan?

Is it possible to get all the protein and nutrients you need when you choose not to have animal products on your menu?

The answer is, absolutely! 

To be honest, I think humans should actually eat a mainly plant-based diet, because it’s better for us. Just remember though, that when you’re eating lots of fruit and veggies and you want to lose weight, you still need to be aware of which ones are high carbs.

It’s super important to find plant-based foods that are full of things like protein and good quality fats. Some good examples would be adding things like chickpeas to your diet. Legumes are a great option and so is hummus (which is made from chickpeas).

Tempe, which is a fermented form of soybeans, is a really good choice. I probably would steer clear of the cheaper soy products which can contain Phyto-estrogen (hormones from plants) which can impact your own hormonal balance.

If you are having hormonal disruptions due to the change of life, eating all of these extra hormones found in some of these soy products, then it could actually be disrupting other stuff going on in your body, so make sure you’re conscious of that.

Tempe is super easy to prepare; I slice it up and make little crunchy chips which are delicious, or I fry it in a good quality oil like you would with haloumi and it’s delicious. You can add marinades and sauces because it doesn’t have a lot of flavour on its own but, be mindful of adding pre-made sauces because they tend to have lots of salt and sugar added. Again, check the ingredients so you know exactly what’s in it and consider using things like herbs, fresh ginger or low-sodium soy sauce to add flavour instead:

Tips for losing weight and feeling great when meat’s not on the menu:

  • Swap soy products for Tempe which is less processed.
  • Lentils can be a reasonably good option but they’re not as low carb as chickpeas.
  • Nuts are a great choice but be careful to eat them in moderation.
  • If you love fruit and veggies, do your homework and find the ones that are lower in carbs and high in nutritional value. Choose leafy greens and colourful vegetables like capsicum over starchy options like potatoes.
  • Know what you’re eating! If you’re eating foods with lots of numbers and long words in the ingredient list, then you know it’s made in a lab and contains chemicals. Download an app like Chemical Maze, which will tell you what each of those numbers and chemicals are used for and how it can impact your health. The app uses a smiley face rating system to show you quickly which ingredients are good, and which are bad for you and it’s a great tool for grocery shopping.
  • Compare products when you’re shopping. Companies will often make claims about things on their packaging to make it look healthier than it is which we call ‘green washing’ or adding a health halo, but the reality is, all ingredients have to be listed on the packaging, so that will tell you the truth about what’s really in a product.
  • Consider whether you need the low-fat versions of things, particularly if you want that product to be a good source of fat.