Food & NutritionNewsletterPublic Health

A healthy vegetarian diet

Executive Summary

* This note was inspired by a query from someone with type 1 diabetes who works with other people with diabetes to help them to control their blood glucose levels. It looks at how easy (or difficult) it is for a vegetarian diet to meet recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals. It also examines how much carbohydrate recommended vegetarian diets comprise.

* The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) presented two dietary options for vegetarians – one for toddlers and one for those over two years old.

* I examined the US DGA recommended vegetarian diet for a female aged 31-50 (as an example) and found it to be deficient in several nutrients. The DGA report did say that nutrient supplementation would be required despite one of the overarching principles of the guidelines being “Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods.“

* The US DGA recommended vegetarian diet was also extremely high in carbohydrate (60% of total calorie intake).

* There is a way in which a vegetarian diet can meet most nutritional requirements and be below 100g carbohydrate each day. However, it involves consuming a diet vastly different to the government recommended one of whole grains, legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables.



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