everything about vegetarianism

A vegetarian diet is a diet that excludes animal protein from the diet for moral, environmental or health reasons. Although there are many variations of vegetarianism, meat, fish, seafood and eggs are often banned in favor of plant proteins such as soy, legumes or cereals.

Features of the vegetarian diet:

  • Rich in fiber and nutrients

  • Importance of food combinations

  • Protective against overweight and cardiovascular disease

  • There are different variations

  • Rich in culinary discoveries and nutrients

The main principles of nutrition

The vegetarian diet has been practiced for millennia, originally called “vegetarian diet” or “dry eating”. Many philosophers of Greek antiquity were vegetarians. Due to his writings on the subject, Pythagoras is considered the father of vegetarianism. For a long time, people who exclude meat from their diet have been called “Pythagoreans”. Over the years, many other famous thinkers (such as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Einstein) have adopted vegetarianism. Most recently, Brigitte Bardot, Aymeric Caron, Moby, Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney have been publicly advocating vegetarianism at their venues and events.

How does a vegetarian diet work?

There are various reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet, such as:

  • Prevention of certain diseases (cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, osteoporosis, infections, constipation, cancer)

  • Interest in the good treatment of animals

  • Environmental Protection

  • Respect for religious orders, in some cases

In all cases, a vegetarian diet consists of eliminating animal meat in favor of plant proteins.

Vegetarian dairy diet, vegetarian, pessary-vegetarian: what are the differences?

There are diets close to the vegetarian diet that have their own characteristics:

  • The dairy-vegetarian diet, which consists of consuming dairy products but not eggs

  • The dairy-egg-vegetarian diet that allows you to consume dairy products and eggs, but not meat or fish

  • The peso-vegetarian diet, which consists of eating fish, dairy products and eggs but not meat

  • Flexibility diet, which consists in reducing meat consumption most of the time

  • The vegetarian diet, which excludes all foods of animal origin (including dairy products, eggs and honey)

Should we follow a vegetarian diet to lose weight?

It has been proven that people who follow a vegetarian diet have a lower BMI than the average, this is supported by the fact that adopting a restrictive diet, such as vegetarianism, promotes a better balance of food intake and consumption of less food by the food industry. .

In addition, a vegetarian diet, excluding meat, is involved in the fight against cardiovascular disease caused mainly by saturated fatty acids found in meat. Vegetarians generally have lower cholesterol levels than the omnivorous population due to this lack of fatty meat in their diet. If well-implemented, a vegetarian diet is high in fiber, especially vegetables and whole grains, making it possible to fight constipation, diabetes and transient disorders.

It will also reduce the risk of prostate and colon cancer, thanks to the abundance of fruits and vegetables, low fat intake and the absence of smokers, roasted or nitrated meats. Finally, the absence of meat will almost completely eliminate the risk of infections associated with bacteria or viruses present in it (H. pylori, Campylobacter, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, etc.). Salmonellosis, on the other hand, could even be infected by eating eggs.

How long does a vegetarian diet last?

A vegetarian diet is one of the lifestyles that is often adopted throughout life. Whatever the reasons (ecological, moral, health, etc.), it is therefore a diet that does not have a limited duration.

Food is allowed and prohibited

Vegetarian foods include all categories of foods except meat and fish, so there are starchy foods and grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and eggs, fats, legumes and sweets.

Diet and menu program for a balanced vegetarian diet


Wholemeal bread
Vegetable margarine or butter


Coral lentil curry with coconut milk
Basmati rice


Some almonds


1/2 avocado with spices
Potato omelette
Roasted peppers
Simple yogurt

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of a vegetarian diet

  • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases

  • Good fiber intake

  • Significant feeling of satiety

  • Great nutritional variety

  • Maintaining a healthy weight more easily

  • Rich in gastronomic discoveries

The downsides of a vegetarian diet for weight loss

  • Bad Omega-6 / Omega-3 ratio

  • Risk of iron deficiency if the diet is wrong

  • You have to cook

Recommendations and precautions

Are there any risks of malnutrition in the vegetarian diet?

It is sometimes wrongly believed that vegetarians do not have protein. A balanced vegetarian diet meets all needs. Vegetarians get protein from milk and dairy products, eggs, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, diet yeast and cereal products. Plant proteins are not complete on their own, but they become complete by making certain food combinations. We can, for example, accompany rice lentils. You do not need to supplement your protein with every meal. Cereals can be eaten for breakfast and legumes for dinner to help the body replenish complete protein.

On the other hand, in a vegetarian diet, it is not uncommon to find nuts, seeds and vegetable oils: the intake of omega-6 fatty acids can therefore be very high compared to omega-3 fatty acids. In this case, it’s best to cut down on omega-6-rich oils – sunflower, soybeans, wheat germ, corn, grape seeds – and favor omega-3 sources: flaxseed and oilseeds, rapeseed, hemp seeds and oil. chia seeds, marine microalgae.

Finally, with frequent consumption of legumes and green vegetables, vegetarianism does not involve the risk of iron deficiency. On the other hand, if these foods are forgotten on the menus, this can lead to an anemia that leads to drug overdose.

Is it a diet for you?

Vegetarianism can be a good solution for you if you want to adopt a lifestyle that respects the environment, the good living of the animals and your own health. Do not hesitate to accompany the first months of your new diet to fully understand the challenges and food combinations to make a balanced vegetarian diet.

Can a vegetarian diet be followed by bodybuilding?

Absolutely, as we have just seen, a balanced vegetarian diet provides several proteins and micronutrients in the body. Therefore, it is perfectly compatible with regular physical activity of varying intensity.

How not to gain weight?

Even if the average BMI of vegetarians is lower than that of other people, this diet is not meant to make you lose weight. There is therefore no reason to gain weight afterwards. In addition, vegetarianism is one way of life that is generally adopted in the long run, it does not have a limited duration.

What is a vegetarian scarsdale diet?

The scarsdale method consists of a very low calorie and hypoglycemic diet that will allow you to lose up to 9 pounds in 14 days. There is a variation compatible with the vegetarian diet. However, due to its very restrictive nature, weight loss method is not recommended.

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In France, more than 30% of individuals are defined as flexitarians. This trend is even more evident in the wealthy in the 1950s. However, among people under the age of 35, the reduction in meat consumption is becoming more widespread. Similarly, 50% of people would like to increase their consumption of plant products.

Less than 3% of French people are strict vegetarians and less than 2% are vegan.

The dietitian’s opinion on vegetarianism

Vegetarian foods are becoming increasingly popular due to the health benefits and growing interest in preserving our environment. It is a balanced diet and adapts perfectly to any age of life, provided that you compose your dish in a logical way by providing protein at every meal (legumes, dairy products or eggs) and vegetable fats rich in omega-3 (olive oil, flaxseed, hemp …).

Writing: Léa Zubiria, Dietitian-Nutritionist,
June 2018

Based on the project: Camille Lefebvre, Dietitian-Nutritionist,
April 2017

everything about vegetarianism
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