Running the Numbers on a Veggie Diet

My favourite meal is veg pizza! Not mine - Creative Commons photo. See: http://patymsnutritionworld.blogspot.ca/2011_01_01_archive.html

My favourite meal is veg pizza! Not mine – Creative Commons photo. See: http://patymsnutritionworld.blogspot.ca/2011_01_01_archive.html

I have been mostly vegetarian for 9 months now and it is feeling like a permanent diet. I use a software program to analyze whether I eat nutritiously. Because, you know, I just would, being exacting and all. I ran some numbers on a couple of typical days and thought I would share them. I also compared the two days to what is recommended by the Canada Food Guide (similar to the US Food Pyramid).

If you are thinking about a vegetarian or vegan diet and can’t decide on nutritional grounds, see what you think.

You might have some advice for me, so here is my background info:

  • I had set a target weight, which I reached, and have now maintained for over a year. I was able to maintain this weight when I was eating meat regularly, too.
  • I work out for an hour 3-4 times a week (mostly cardio) but I am not, by any means, an athlete. I work in public service and I am on my feet/walking around about 1/3 of every work day.
  • For the past year, my software program shows I have averaged eating 2350 calories a day. That is a shocking amount, but true!
  • The nutrient ratio that seems to work for me is about 60% carbs, 25% fat and 15% protein. I know that others are “all over the map” on this ratio. But one thing is for sure, I will never go paleo!
  • In the past year I have had 2 colds but no illnesses.

So with that out of the way, here are a couple of days’ meals and snacks, and how they rate.

Day 1

Weekday breakfast: Large bowl of bran flakes with raisins and milk

Morning snack: Toasted whole wheat bagel with 4 tsp. peanut butter, and 1 orange

Lunch: Homemade pea and quinoa soup, 10 Triscuits crackers (lower-salt), 1 cup homemade yogurt with 1/2 cup (frozen) blueberries and 2 tsp. maple syrup

Afternoon snack: 1 apple and 2 mini chocolate bars (1/2 oz. each)

Dinner: Large serving of homemade vegetable pot pie made with broccoli, carrots, parsnips, green peppers and white kidney beans with a whole-wheat biscuit crust

Other: 3 large mugs of “half-caff” coffee with milk

Vegetable Pot Pie. Again not mine. Creative Commons photo. See: http://budgetbytes.blogspot.ca/2013/01/vegetable-pot-pie-650-recipe-072-serving.html

Vegetable Pot Pie. Not mine, sadly. Creative Commons photo. See: http://budgetbytes.blogspot.ca/2013/01/vegetable-pot-pie-650-recipe-072-serving.html

How it rates:

  • Calories: 2216
  • Carbs: 370 g (64% of calories)
  • Fats: 57 g (22% of calories)
  • Protein: 86 g (14% of calories)
  • Calcium: 1445 mg (145% of required)
  • Iron: 23 mg (127% of required)
  • Fibre: 51 g (204% of required)
  • Vitamins D and B12: off the charts because milk is heavily fortified

And here’s how it would look for the Canada Food Guide:

  • Grain Servings: 9, all whole grain today
  • Milk and Alternates: 2 (milk in cereal, coffee and biscuit crust; yogurt)
  • Meat and Alternates: Peanut butter, and beans in veg pie. Probably 1 serving total.
  • Fruit: 3 plus raisins
  • Vegetables: (3 in soup and 3 in veg pie)
  • Other: chocolate, maple syrup, coffee

Day 2

Weekend breakfast: Large bowl of oatmeal with ground flax, raisins, walnuts and milk; latte made with 6 oz milk

Morning snack: Apple

Lunch: 2 eggs scrambled with basil and olive oil; ½ cup lima beans; 2 whole wheat toast with jam

Afternoon snack: Homemade yogurt with ½ cup (frozen) strawberries and 2 tsp. maple syrup, and 1 orange

Dinner: Large serving of vegetable and chick pea curry over 1 cup of couscous; ¾ cup of ice cream for dessert

Snack: 1 oz milk chocolate

Other: 2 large mugs of “half-caff” coffee with milk

Not quite mine but similar. See: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodwise/recipes/beans/chickpea-and-spinach-curry

Veg and chick pea curry. Not mine but similar. Creative Commons photo. See: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodwise/recipes/beans/chickpea-and-spinach-curry

How it rates:

  • Calories: 2338
  • Carbs: 356 g (59% of calories)
  • Fats: 72 g (27% of calories)
  • Protein: 90 g (14% of calories)
  • Calcium: 1379 mg (138% of required)
  • Iron: 25 mg (141% of required)
  • Fibre: 34 g (134% of required)

And again in servings:

  • Grains: 6, of which 4 were whole grains (not the couscous)
  • Milk and Alternates: 3-1/2 including the ice cream
  • Meat and Alternates: 1 for the eggs, 1 for the lima beans and chick peas, plus an ounce of walnuts
  • Fruit: 3 plus the raisins again
  • Vegetables: 3 in the curry
  • Other: Jam, maple syrup, chocolate, coffee

If I were going to give myself advice, I would tell myself to drink water!

What would you think of a diet like this?

Note: The software I use is DietPower, which I cannot recommend highly enough if you want to check your nutritional profile. This is not a paid endorsement!

23 comments

  1. Fiona

    How great does that pizza look! You’ve convinced me 🙂

    I’ve been trying hard to increase our family’s % of vegetarian meals for health reasons. However, DH is a reluctant subject – he’d go paleo if he could! I’m trying my utmost to sneak in regular vegetarian dishes, a couple a week, to increase vegetable/fibre/nutrient balance in our diet. We have just got to the point where the whole family now happily eats tofu (after DH refusing to eat it for years!)

    Would you have any great vegetarian recipe sites to recommend?

    • Hi Fiona, You’ll have to let me know which websites you like! I have been using cookbooks from the library: Vegetarian Family Cookbook/Nava Atlas; 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes/Judith Finlayson; and Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook; as well as lots of recipes from various soups and stews cookbooks.

      • EcoCatLady

        My very favorite cookbook is Laurel’s Kitchen. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s all vegetarian recipes, but the informational sections are what really makes it worthwhile. There are all sorts of charts with nutritional information on various ingredients… just the sort of thing an exacting personality would find enjoyable! 🙂

      • Thanks a bunch for the recommendation! I am always looking for new cookbooks, especially ones that feature “everyday” meals. I have put it on hold at the library!

  2. You diet sounds delicious. I can’t imagine myself eating that much in any one day, I usually have two meals. I do have to plan my meals or I will forget to eat so I currently have a 15 bean soup with onions and edamame in the slow cooker for tomorrow. I eat a fruit breakfast, one or two pieces of fruit, then until summer comes a bean or vegetable soup for my main meal. I could never do a paleo diet either, I’ve never liked the taste of meat and can’t stand the smell of it as it cooks.

    Btw, I wouldn’t expect any thing less exacting from you.

  3. I just downloaded Diet Power, I can see why you like it. It is very different from other programs out there.

  4. EcoCatLady

    I used to eat a diet that looked very much like that, but these days I seem to do better with more fruits and veggies, less grains and legumes, less dairy, and a small serving of either fish or poultry. I miss all of the cereals and breads, but I feel much better with less of them. Oh, but a big bowl of raisin bran with milk… I haven’t had cereal in years. If only it didn’t leave me bloated and cause my blood sugar to spike. Sigh…

    • It’s great when you take the time to figure out what makes you feel best. So many people are reluctant to change the way they eat even when they continually don’t feel well.

  5. Tina Lemna

    I am a new reader and love your blog! I eat a 90% vegan diet to control my diabetes. I never liked meat anyway so the transition wasn’t hard for me. If only I could give up the sugar I could get off my meds! I think your diet sounds perfect to me. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Tina, and welcome here! My diet works for me because I like cooking and I like eating copious amounts of food 🙂

    • Tina, I gave up sugar for lent – it’s definately hard, especially the first week or two, but over time I’ve found myself wanting fruit as a sweet treat – which would have been unheard of for me previously! It’s all about working out when you eat sugar, and finding an alternative that you like. The hardest thing for me is ‘on the go’ snacks – every cafe is full of muffins etc, and not many savoury things.

  6. I love how you are so exacting about everything! As usual, great data! Im glad you have found an eating plan that works well for you. I try to lean more towards paleo but junk food still calls out to me…like daily :I

  7. After 14 years of being vegetarian, now my diet seems to be leaning more towards paleo 🙂 I have cut down grains and dairy and am feeling a lot better because of it, but I think so much is just learning what your body needs. And I love the number-crunching, stats are awesome 🙂

  8. Hello there
    Diet plan sounds good – light but nourishing, definitely not stodgy
    Just wondering if you’d like to share your Pea and Quinoa soup recipe?
    Also would you eat more fruit in the summer time?
    Take care
    Cathy

  9. It looks like a very healthy diet to me. I do a couple of vegetarian dishes a week which my boys hate because they say it doesn’t have enough protein. It possibly doesn’t for them because they pick around the beans and don’t eat them. If I didn’t have to cater for them I’d be very happy on your diet. It looks delicious!

  10. I am still trying to figure out what my body really needs. It seems that when I eat what the USDA says I should eat, I feel awful (not to mention that I can’t eat dairy at all, so out goes that category). This week I was reading up on the Western diet and how we have this preoccupation with eating “enough” protein. So, for the week, I am trying to listen to what I am hungry for, if I don’t want beans or an animal source, then I’m allowing for that. Tonight’s family dinner is lentil curry over rice. But I plan on serving the lentils on the side, so that I can skip them, if I want.

    When I serve too many vegan meals, my husband and son make it known that they’d appreciate some meat or cheese. But my daughters seem fine with vegan meals, and so am I. I just wonder if this is cultural or biological, that a lot of men I know seem to feel they need meat. How does your husband feel about being vegetarian?

    • Funny, being vegetarian was Rom’s idea, because he had been vegetarian before and was fine with it. But I am finding he misses meat more than I do. I am debating if he was healthier as a meat eater.

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