Author Topic: Vegetarian Meal Planning  (Read 6861 times)

NumberCruncher

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 612
Vegetarian Meal Planning
« on: January 14, 2014, 11:46:53 AM »
I tested vitamin D deficient recently (started on some supplements already), but it got me to thinking about our diet and whether we're getting enough nutrients.

Main Question: For those of you who are vegetarians, or eat a mostly vegetarian diet, how do you plan meals and/or make sure you're getting all your daily recommended bits and bobs?

For vitamin D in particular, the highest sources are from fish products, it seems: http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-vitamin-D-foods.php 

We (husband and I) sometimes eat fish, but are really particular about the quality, meaning expensive...So most of the time we eat vegetarian. In addition, we don't have a ton of dairy products, partially because there's some research linking it to aggravating some symptoms of a health problem I have. I'm thinking the best bet might be to just take a calcium/vitamin D supplement, and maybe a multivitamin as my Dr. recommended. Any better ideas?

Our normal diet usually revolves around veggies, rice, beans, tofu, and eggs.  This week we got a big cartful of kale and broccoli, cucumbers, button mushrooms, a couple packs of tofu, a dozen eggs, bananas, pears, a couple apples, a few potatoes, onions, and basmati rice (still have a pantry full of beans such as chick peas and kidney beans). The rice has historically been white, but we're looking to switch it up to brown possibly -- mostly after finding a way to cook it faster recently (boiling it like pasta as opposed to just putting in the recommended amount of water). We might start cutting down on tofu as well, given its processed nature.



jfer_rose

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 455
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Urban Dweller
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 11:59:38 AM »
I've been vegetarian since around 1997 or so and I don't eat fish at all. I simply don't stress about vitamins and minerals-- I just try to eat a variety of foods. In general, I've been quite healthy on this diet.

Last winter, I did test deficient in Vitamin D but my understanding is that humans get the vast majority of their Vitamin D from the sun. Given that I'm largely stuck inside the office during daylight hours in winter, it's not a surprise that I was deficient. I just take vitamin D supplements during the winter months when I'm not getting as much sun. The majority of research I've read led me to the conclusion that multi-vitamins are not worth the money.

beanlady

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 12:05:01 PM »
I don't think most people need to worry about it if they are eating a diet with reasonable variety. Human bodies are pretty darn good at making do.

Davin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 112
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Eureka, California
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 12:11:56 PM »
I have been a vegetarian for about 25 years, and your shopping cart sounds a lot like mine. I get most of my Vitamin D from the sun (I work and recreate outdoors a lot). Milk substitutes like soymilk are commonly fortified with vitamin D too. If you like high quality fresh fish, my suggestion would be to take up fishing. It can be fun or relaxing, depending on your approach, and it puts you outdoors for some solar powered vitamin D.

TGod

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 125
  • Location: Vancouver Island
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 12:20:02 PM »
We're pescotarian, mainly all veggies, with the odd salmon dinner or locally farmed shellfish. We live on  Vancouver island so we can stock up on salmon at a reasonable price.
That said, as I am currently struggling with anaemia (always takes me 3 times to spell that word correctly), I'm fairly sure that my body would appreciate a steak a week.
While I think that as a generalization if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits, veggies and solid protein sources you should be able to meet all your requirements, it's not necessarily true on an individual basis. We all have different bodies, and while my husband eats the same things as I do he has much better vitamin/mineral levels than I do.
I'm currently focused on using supplements to get me back up to healthy levels. I will then see if I can maintain it through diet, get tested 6 months down the road and see how I am. If I'm slipping again it may be that I will need to continue with the vitamins in the long term to avoid having to eat a steak.
If you are fine on your other vitamins/minerals and it's just your vitamin D, consider just sticking with that as a supplement. If you don't need the extra on the other ones you are just throwing money away by taking a multivitamin.

Elaine

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 467
  • Age: 32
  • Location: NYC
    • Small Things Good
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 12:27:28 PM »
 If you shop around you can find apps that aren't just for calorie counting, but that also have full vitamin breakdowns and show your percentages in hundreds of vitamin/nutrient categories over the course of a day.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3518
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 12:32:38 PM »
I've been a vegan for 15 years now and never had any problems - vitamin D comes from fortified soy milk (or almond or rice milk if you prefer) and the sun. Everything else comes from just eating a good variety of nutritious foods.

Fortunately, in north america nutrition information is printed on virtually everything except fresh produce. Sometimes it's even printed on fresh produce - I've seen it on bags of carrots and radishes anyways. I would strongly recommend just reading the labels on absolutely everything you buy and making sure ingredients that are high in different nutrient groups are in regular rotation.

For the record, we don't do strict meal planning except for one week prior to international travel twice a year. We stock a wide variety of nutritious ingredients and make whatever we feel like from that.

BoulderTC

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 60
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 12:36:30 PM »
I'm a vegetarian. In general, I feel fantastic. I actively try to remain healthy by eating whole, natural foods and exercising regularly, but I have never thought about getting the proper amounts of any vitamin, mineral, or even the macro nutrients (carbs, protein, fats). I think eating a proper mix of foods and not too much processed junk maintains all the health I've ever needed.  I think it's kind of a myth that vegetarianism doesn't give you enough nutrients. You could probably take a multi vitamin and maybe some additional supplements... maybe add something to your smoothies or oatmeal if you want.

hoodedfalcon

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
  • Location: Deep and Dirty
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 12:45:32 PM »
I am just going to echo what a lot of other folks have already said. It sounds like you eat a pretty balanced diet. I have been vegan for 15 years and my Vit D levels have always been fine - but I spend a ton of time outside. My B-12 levels are another story - not solely because of diet, but because my body doesn't recognize B-12 when it's ingested (I have to give myself a shot every two weeks). Without knowing the cause of your deficiency, it will be hard to really pinpoint what you need to do to change it. It could be dietary, or it could be sun exposure, or it could be your body doesn't process Vitamin D very efficiently.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:27:34 PM by hoodedfalcon »

NumberCruncher

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 612
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 01:13:55 PM »
Thanks for all the replies!

I do tend to avoid the sun as a rule...I burn super easily and have a 9-5 in an office (bye-bye daylight in the winter!).

I was "low-normal" in vitamin B too (can't remember if the test broke it out further), but everything else seemed fine.

At least for the winter, I think I'll just remember to take vitamin D supplements for now, and I'll look into tracking nutrients with an app or something to look for any potential problems.

Didn't mean to perpetuate the stereotype that vegetarians/vegans don't get enough nutrients - given the amount of veggies we eat, I'm sure we're way better off nutritiously than most carnivores I know ;)

tariskat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 307
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 01:20:33 PM »
My cart also looks similar - loads of beans and brown rice and frozen bags of mixed vegetables, and throw all 3 together for dinner in the rice cooker and then have a few days of leftovers.  I get dried beans, cook them, and freeze them in friendly portions to add to supper and breakfast.

I also tested low last summer on B12 and D, started vitamins for both, tested again in a month (my levels were back up then), and the doc told me to stay on D as long as I lived in the north and B12 as long as I wasn't eating (red) meat. 

I use MyFitnessPal and it will give you a list of nutrients and where you're at (e.g., Vitamin A, I've had 204% today of 100%) and also will give you a pie chart of Carb v Fat v Protein for every day after you enter your chow.

mollyjade

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 91
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 01:34:42 PM »
I've been vegan for 8 years. I don't track my nutrients, but I do make sure that I eat a cup of beans or similar (tofu, seitan) for at least one meal a day and either drink a glass of fortified plant milk or take a calcium supplement (both also have vitamin d). I've found if I do those two things, I tend to hit all the nutritional goal posts if I'm otherwise eating relatively healthy.

Vegetarians don't have any higher rates of vitamin D deficiency than omnivores. It's just one of those things that a lot of people tend to be deficient in due to our modern indoor and sunscreen-covered lives.

LibrarIan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 01:42:57 PM »
I've been a vegetarian for three years and I've never felt better. However, I work inside all day and I am not outside very often, so I take a supplement for my vitamin D. Soy milk is just nasty in my opinion, although I do mix it into fruit smoothies. Other than that, I have no real issues that I am aware of.

the fixer

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2014, 02:32:29 PM »
Don't forget that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. A deficiency can be due to not eating enough fat in your diet, not just from a lack of the mineral itself. So a supplement or multivitamin isn't always the whole answer. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10736

I think this is the reason why the best natural sources of vitamin D come from animal products. Animals produce or ingest it and it gets stored in their fatty tissues. My recommendation is cod liver oil, but I know it's expensive. Ultimately, the most frugal method to get vitamin D is sunlight exposure, but the effectiveness depends on your skin color, latitude, and the time of year.

More info on vitamin D: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/vitamin-d/ This reminds me, I need to resume taking my vitamin D supplements now that it's wintertime.

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1883
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2014, 03:38:49 PM »
I'm an omnivore and was severely vitamin D deficient (to the point of affecting my joints).  My doctor said I was "scraping the bottom of the barrel".  I take 50,000 IU of D3 once a month, as prescribed.

A neighbor, who walks and bikes outside all the time (and I doubt he slathers on sunscreen), is also deficient.

Diet, I'm sure, plays a part, but sometimes it's just genetics.  My doctor said that they're just now starting to test people for it and it's more prevalent than they thought it would be.

moestache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
  • Location: Australia
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 04:29:43 PM »
I've been a vegetarian since I was a toddler and never had any issues even while as a kid. I don't eat fish, I just make sure I eat a range of whole foods, eat enough protein and enough good fats. I get blood tested every year, there was one year I was deficient in Vit D but the test was done during winter and was told to just take Vit D supplements in winter time. I got tested again about 3 months later and my Vit D levels were back to normal.

mollyjade

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 91
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 12:00:04 PM »
Don't forget that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. A deficiency can be due to not eating enough fat in your diet, not just from a lack of the mineral itself. So a supplement or multivitamin isn't always the whole answer. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10736
You can easily get around this by taking your supplement with a meal that includes a fat source.

beanlady

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 05:03:31 PM »
Also, regarding Vitamin D supplementation: http://feedly.com/k/1iHfCAJ

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1883
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 05:19:49 PM »
I'll take the recommendations of my endocrinologist over that of a journalist, TYVM.

VexedCoffee

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 08:20:31 PM »
Vegan here, I drink fortified soy/almond/rice milk with my coffee every morning and also make protein smoothies on workout days. Seems to keep me covered on the vitamin d and b12

blackjack

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 166
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 06:58:24 PM by blackjack »

Empire Business

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Vegetarian Meal Planning
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2014, 07:59:53 PM »
I have had great success and minimum hassle by using a slow cooker to make huge batches of soups/stews with vegetables and either beans or lentils and then freezing portions.  Take them for lunch, eat them for dinner, if you don't eat it all in a week do a differently seasoned one and then you have options to choose from.  It helps to not get sick of doing it if you highly season them, each in a different way.  And supplement in between with other stuff like salads.