[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
Vegetarianism is a dietary practice that excludes the consumption of all animal flesh. This practice is therefore opposed to the carnivorous diet. Don’t confuse Vegetarism and vegetalism (exclusion of all food from animals)
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
But how to manage when eating practices are different around a dinner?
The basics of nutrition: three thirds
The basics of a balanced diet involve the principle of three thirds : REGARDLESS OF THE FOOD MODE.
On your plate at each meal, it is recommended to have ⅓ thirds of starchy foods, ⅓ of fruits and/or vegetables, ⅓ of proteins. In the fruit and vegetable third, we recommend half raw, half sour. The big difference that must be taken into account is that of proteins : animal and/or plant. You will also need to pay attention to the intake of certain nutrients detailed in this article.
Proteins are used to maintain our muscle mass, but also to renew our hair, nails, skin and are present in the form of hormones, enzymes, receptors…
Animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids (=AAI) to be easily assimilated by the body. Conversely, plant proteins must be assembled together to be more easily assimilated because they do not all contain the same AAI.
Plant proteins are found in starchy foods: rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, wheat, bread and legumes. The group of legumes is made up of vegetables and nuts (beans, peas, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
It is interesting to combine starchy foods with legumes if the meal does not contain animal proteins.
Note: A vegetarian consumes eggs and dairy products which are very good sources of animal protein.
A vegetarian person must compensate for the loss of nutrients that can be found in meat and fish.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12
B group vitamins play an essential role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, responsible for communication between neurons. They prevent intellectual fatigue.
Starchy foods and dried vegetables will provide vitamins B1, B3 and B6. Dairy products provide vitamin B12 (especially milk)
The roles of iron are numerous:
- it serves as an oxygen reserve for our cells;
- it is involved in the synthesis of DNA;
- It is also used for the production of dopamine (regulation of moods).
For this nutrient, we will find non-heme iron (which is more difficult to bind) in vegetables and fruits. The vitamin C contained in this food group will facilitate the assimilation of iron in the body. It is consumed in its entirety when the fruits and vegetables have not undergone any culinary treatment (example: fruits eaten raw with the skin).
Be careful, if the fruit or vegetable undergoes culinary processing, we lose 50% of its vitamin C content, hence the importance of consuming this group of foods, ideally both raw and cooked.
Non-heme iron is contained in meat products and is easily fixed in the body.
Its roles are:
- Intervention in protein and fat metabolism;
- Stabilization of various hormones such as insulin;
- Essential for immune defenses, taste and smell;
- Contribution to the good condition of the skin and hair.
Selenium fights against oxidative stress by regulating heart rate and strengthening our immune system, among other things.
Whole grains can be a good source of selenium when produced in regions rich in this mineral (especially the United States). It is found in Brazil nuts or shiitake mushrooms which are increasingly sold in specialized stores.
Some notions of equivalences
100g of meat = 20g of protein
Either in animal proteins:
- 2 eggs
- 250g of white cheese
- 80g of cheese
- 4 yogurts
- ½ L of milk
- 3 slices of white ham
Either in vegetable proteins:
- 300g cooked lentils
- 120g almonds
- 300g cooked white beans
- 250g of bread
- 200g wheat or corn flour
Be careful, a single food will not provide all the necessary proteins, which is why it is preferable to combine dried vegetables and starchy foods.
- 200g cooked pasta + 40g gruyere
- 200g cooked semolina + 100g chickpeas
- 250mL of milk + 100g of oatmeal
- 200g cooked rice + 100g red beans
To assimilate all the proteins necessary for the proper functioning of the body, you must combine foods:
¾ starchy foods for ¼ dried vegetables to replace meat (or dried fruits such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
Examples of Carnivorous VS Vegetarian dishes
Salmon / Rice / green beans
Bread and cheese
Chickpeas / rice / green beans
Bread and cheese
Fresh fruit salad
Fresh fruit salad
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts (about 10)
Compote with added sugar
| Rice salad
Compote with added sugar
Crumble of candied carrots with parmesan and ground beef
Potato gratin with Camembert and ham
|Apple and Walnut Risotto
Parmesan candied carrot crumble
Potato Gratin with Camembert
- Think three thirds!
- Alternate animal and plant proteins
- Consume as many RAW vegetables and fruits as COOKED
- If there are only plant proteins: combine starchy foods and legumes
- If you feel like you’re not eating enough legumes: don’t hesitate to make snacks based on dried fruits: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.
- Pay attention to your feelings of hunger and fullness.
Note: hunger is a physical sensation: gurgling, hollowness in the stomach, slight pain… If you doubt the origin or the awareness of its sensations, it would be interesting to consult a dietician.
Eating should be and remain a pleasure. You have to know how to stay flexible (just because you eat a pizza during the week does not mean you will unbalance your diet).
Bon appetit to all eaters!