It has been well known for a long time that meat, especially red one, is not one of the healthiest components of our diet. Packed with hormones and fat, meat has a negative impact on the cardiovascular system and heart function.
On the other hand, a vegetarian diet is recommended to most people regardless of age, gender or habits. However, it must be a well-balanced diet! And today we will tell you how to start your adventure with vegetarianism at an advanced age. Because there are plenty of benefits of a vegetarian diet for ageing seniors!
What is a vegetarian diet?
Wondering what is a vegetarian diet? Vegetarianism is the deliberate exclusion of meat, fish and seafood from the daily diet. This way of eating may be based on health motives, because a diet that excludes meat has considerable health advantages, on ecological motives, since meat production is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions, or on moral motives, due to the fact that animals intended for slaughter live and die in dramatic conditions. However, whatever the reasons, it is important to prepare for these dietary changes before giving up such an important component of the usual diet.
What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
You probably do not even expect that a vegetarian diet is not just a fad, but has huge health benefits, especially for older people. Following a vegetarian diet is recommended for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases or certain cancers, such as colon cancer.
A well-balanced vegetarian diet reduces the concentration of cholesterol in blood serum, lowers blood pressure, and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and the development of cancer. Vegetarians are less likely to become overweight and obese, and to have intestinal problems.
The principles of a healthy vegetarian diet for seniors
Opponents of vegetarianism include the opinion that this diet is unable to provide adequate amounts of protein, iron or vitamin B12. What is the reality? In the case of a classic vegetarian diet, it is easy to balance it so that it provides an adequate amount of complete protein. It is important that a vegetarian diet contains various sources of protein: eggs, dairy products, legumes, oats or nuts. It is perfectly manageable, and on the contrary, vegetarian protein is better absorbed than the animal one.
Another controversial product in the vegetarian diet is iron. The best sources of iron are animal products – red meat, liver. There are also plant sources of iron, but these are less easily absorbed by the body. In order to provide oneself with the appropriate dose of iron, one should reach for green vegetables and pulses, in which this mineral occurs in significant amounts.
Moreover, they have to be properly cooked, adding sources of vitamin C to meals, e.g. lemon juice, red pepper, or pickles. A vegetarian diet is also very often associated with a deficiency of vitamin B12, which is only found in products of animal origin. Hence it is necessary to supplement it from time to time.
Where to find the vegetarian diet recipes?
Vegetarian diet recipes can be found online. Although it may be hard to imagine at first for those used to a meat-based diet, there are plenty of them. On top of this, there are thousands of meat substitutes available in shops in the UK in the form of various sausages, beyond meat, meatballs, or chicken substitutes, which make the transition to a vegetarian diet easier as they don’t require a complete change in eating habits, just a swap of the meat part.
How to create a sample meal plan for a 70-year old woman?
A vegetarian diet for seniors should consist of 4-5 meals that total about 1400-1700 kcal. Older people are advised to avoid meat anyway, so there won’t be much change here. The vegetarian diet for seniors should limit the intake of salt and spices, which can be replaced by natural herbs.
It is also a good idea to base your vegetarian diet on the preferences of the elderly person and create meals for them. Consider what vegetables, fruits, groats and bread the elderly person likes and create a vegan menu based on that.
Sample meal plan for 70-year old woman:
- tofu scramble with sun-dried tomatoes and sunflower seeds + a slice of your favourite bread
- 1 fried egg + vege sausage + grilled tomato + bread of your choice
- Tortilla + guacamole + tomatoes + lettuce + beans
- Yogurt + homemade granola + fruit of your choice
- Handful of nuts of your choice + berries
- Oatmeal cookies with sugar substitute such as xylitol
- Shepperd’s pie with tomato, bean, onion, and pepper base
- Roasted root veggies + pepitas
Vegetarian diet for seniors
A vegetarian diet has a significant beneficial effect on the health of older people. It reduces the risk of heart disease and obesity and is environmentally friendly. On top of that, meat is not recommended for seniors anyway, so transition should not be too difficult! Good luck!
And if you’re interested in the topic of nutrition for the elderly, you can find a complete article on the topic on our blog.