It’s National Vegetarian week this week so I thought I would write a post about being vegetarian following Slimming World as it can be a bit difficult with most recipes and books containing mostly meat and fish, especially the magazines, although it is great to see that this has massively improved recently. This has turned in to a bit of an essay/science lesson but I have really enjoyed writing it and looking up the bits I wasn’t sure on, so I hope it will be helpful and informative!! There was an article on the Slimming World website about being vegetarian so information below has been taken from that –
Veggie-friendly basic Free Foods
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, bulgur wheat
- Pulses including kidney beans, baked beans, edamame beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Quorn mince, pieces and fillets (plain)
- Tofu and soya protein
Branded veggie-friendly foods
There are loads of vegetarian ready-meals around. It’s an easy mistake to assume that because a meal is vegetarian, it’s naturally healthy. Pastry-encased, cheesy and breaded products tend to contain a lot of Syns. For example, a Quorn meat free chicken & mushroom pie is 25 Syns!
Branded Free Foods
- Linda McCartney Vegetarian Red Onion and Rosemary sausages
- Quorn Peppered Beef style slices
- Dee’s Wholefoods spicy bean burgers —– If anyone has ever actually found these please tell me where! I love bean burgers but most are high in syns – I have started making my own but it isn’t the same!
I find that meals aren’t a problem being vegetarian, maybe that is just because I have never eaten meat so vegetarian meals are just meals! But it is finding ‘grab and go’ options and puddings that can be tricky as all yummy stuff seems to have gelatine in, which really sucks! Slimming World seem to LOVE Mullerlight yogurts — do they have some sort of thing going on with them?! But Mullerlight have decided to put horrible gelatine in their yogurts. Just in case you don’t know – ‘Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs.’ pretty gross and unnecessary too as Aldi have managed to make their delicious syn free yogurts without any dead animal gunk – go Aldi! They are really yummy too!
Other veggie syn free yogurts are – Danone Light & Free Greek style yogurts and Activia fat free.
If you’re making a dessert that requires gelatine, agar agar is a vegetarian gelatine substitute and is widely available.
Being vegan on Slimming World
As I said earlier I have been vegetarian my whole life but as I have got older, read more and watched more documentaries I have realised that eating milk, cheese and eggs is also really horrible to animals and so I have tried to cut down my consumption of these. I now only drink vegan milk – my favourite is Alpro Unsweetened roasted Almond Milk – which you can have the whole litre carton on Slimming World as your healthy A choice – in comparison you only get 250ml of semi-skimmed milk. It is really low in calories and has good things in it too –
- 100% plant-based
- Sugar free
- Low in fat
- 13 kcal per 100 ml
- Source of calcium and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress*
There was also a Slimming World article about being vegan so the info below has been taken from that – plus the vegan society website.
The protein world seems to have exploded recently and everything seems to be marketing itself as being high in protein, there are protein chocolate bars, ready meals, cereals, powders and drinks, but I don’t really know why? As far as I am aware unless you are trying to build muscle and you go to the gym all the time then it isn’t too difficult to get enough protein in your diet and having loads extra doesn’t really help much – if I am wrong please do let me know! One of the most annoying things you hear as a vegetarian/vegan is ‘how do you get enough protein?’ It is actually really easy. I was reading an article about protein which says – ‘Protein makes up the structures of hair, nails, muscle and other tissues, enzymes, hormones and molecules that transport nutrients in the body. When we eat food, the protein is broken down into amino acids in the stomach and then absorbed in the small intestine. The liver sorts out which amino acids the body needs and breaks down those it does not need into urea and ammonia. Excess protein is not stored but excreted by the kidney in urine mainly as urea…There are many reasons why high-protein diets (more than 20 per cent of energy) are not healthy. They increase the rate of loss of calcium from bones, have adverse effects on pregnancy outcome, are toxic to people with renal or liver disease and are probably best avoided in people with diabetes. Large, long-term observational studies consistently find that people who eat a lot of meat, particularly red meat, sausages and burgers, are more likely to be overweight, develop type-2 diabetes, and die from cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.’
So how can you get enough protein following a vegan diet?
Protein – it’s filling and we need it to repair ourselves. The vegan society website says ‘Aim for no more than 1g of protein per kilogram of your body weight. I weigh 9 & ½ stone (133lbs or 60kg) so according to this I should eat 60g of protein a day. Getting enough protein isn’t something I have ever worried about before so I don’t actively try and get enough but looking back over my day today I would have got – 4g in my yogurt for breakfast, 5g in my oats, 2g in my chia seeds, 25g of protein in the Linda McCartney Vegemince in my leftover lasagne for lunch, 8g in half a tin of kidney beans in my bean burgers for dinner, probably up to 10g in the vegetables etc that I have eaten today, which takes me to about 55g and there is probably bits and bobs here and there that I’m not aware of so I think I am getting enough on a vegan diet without having to plan for it and this is also whilst also having a low carb diet – when I include pasta, bread etc then I have more than enough. I am not an expert on this at all though!
Vegan protein sources on Slimming World –
Pulses (beans, peas and lentils)
Nuts and seeds
Fortified wholemeal bread
Vitamin B12 – normal brain and nervous system functioning. It only naturally occurs in animal products so vegans need to get it from products with it added to them.
Meridian yeast extract
Fortified wholemeal bread
Fortified milk alternatives eg soya drink, almond drink, rice drink
The vegan society say – Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals. Aim for a daily intake of at least 3mcg (micrograms) Supplements: take either at least 10mcg daily or at least 2000mcg weekly. No upper limits have been set for vitamin B12 intakes because no toxic effects have been identified.
Calcium – bone health
You’ll spot Healthy Extra ‘a’ choices include non-dairy options like:
Calcium-enriched soya drink
Some non-dairy Free Foods are also sources of calcium:
Dark green vegetables (eg kale, watercress, okra and broccoli)
Tofu made with calcium sulphate
Calcium-rich Healthy Extra ‘b’ choices include:
Dried fruits (eg apricots and figs)
Iron – helps transport oxygen around the body In the UK, it is recommended that most adults have a dietary iron intake of 8.7mg (millgrams) per day
Vegan-friendly sources of iron include:
Pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils)
Dark green vegetables (eg spinach)
Nuts – cashews
Seeds – chia, linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds
Fortified soya drink
From the vegan society website – There are lots of factors that affect the amount of iron your body can absorb from your diet. The most important factor is your body’s need for iron: more is absorbed when your body is short of iron, and less is absorbed when your stores are full. Tea, coffee and some substances in plant foods may make it difficult for your body to absorb iron. On the other hand, vitamin C increases iron absorption. Good sources include pepper, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, grapefruit and orange juice.
Omega 3 – reducing cardiovascular disease risk and nervous system functioning.
Flaxmeal and flaxseed oil
Silk DHA Omega-3 soya drink
From the vegan society website – The essential omega-3 fat is called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). To meet the ALA recommendations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), you would need to eat about a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground linseed, two tablespoons of hemp seeds or six walnut halves daily.
Slimming World also gave a vegan 7 day plan which I have shared some of below – I have not followed this yet but it has lots of good ideas and I will be sharing my own vegetarian and vegan meals in other posts.
Vegan 7 day plan
Day 1 Breakfast: Two Weetabix served with soya drink from your hexa allowance and topped with lots of strawberries.
Lunch: RATATOUILLE JACKETS: Split a baked potato in two and fill with ratatouille mix and canned mixed bean salad, eg Napolina Five Bean Salad.
Dinner: STUFFED MUSHROOMS: Layer VBites Cheezly Mozzarella Style (3½ Syns for 25g), freshly chopped herbs, garlic and seasoning onto 2 large field mushrooms. Bake until cooked and tender then serve with curried butternut squash and chilli garlic greens.
Day 2 Breakfast: FRUIT SALAD: Tuck into a bowl of your favourite chopped fruits – strawberries, apples and melon – smothered in a 125g pot of Provamel vanilla & raspberry yogurt (1½ Syns). Enjoy a latte made with hazelnut milk from your allowance.
Lunch: TOFU SALAD: Enjoy a huge, colourful salad made with crumbled tofu, chopped celery, baby spinach, red onion and carrot, drizzled with fat-free vinaigrette. Follow with 60g dried apricots (hexb).
Dinner: SPEEDY CHINESE: Rustle up some Chinese delights by heating some low calorie cooking spray in a wok, adding some chopped spring onion, red chilli, finely chopped ginger and crushed garlic, fry for a couple of minutes, then throw in a pack of mixed stir-fry veg from the supermarket. If you’re feeling adventurous, add other oriental delights like water chestnuts or bamboo shoots. Add lots of Soy sauce to taste, cook for 3 or 4 minutes and serve on a mound of boiled rice noodles.
So there we have a brief outline of following Slimming World as a vegan and vegetarian and making sure you are getting all the good stuff you need! It really isn’t hard to achieve and you don’t need to shop in specialist supermarkets or wholefood shops as big supermarkets have a huge range of veggie and vegan stuff now which is great!
Please let me know any tips you have being veggie or vegan on Slimming World and any recipes and have a go at being vegetarian for the week!
Lots of love