Nutritious meals and low budget are usually not two phrases that go together too well, but it’s possible nonetheless! All one needs is a bit of careful planning and knowledge. Read on as we discuss a few essential tips for creating, eating and maintaining highly nutritious vegetarian diets, without breaking the bank.

Educate Yourself about Nutrition Values

Maintaining a healthy diet is actually quite similar to mathematics, because you have to know the nutritional and caloric values of food, add them, subtract them and even consider external factors such as your own body weight, height, existing medical conditions, exercise regimens, etc. before you are able to figure out the perfect diet for yourself.

Although it sounds like a lot of work, it will become quite easy to manage once you understand the basics (calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc.) associated with each food item on your menu.  The idea is to ensure that your daily nutrient intake meets your dietary needs, but doesn’t exceed or go under the recommended intake guidelines by too much. Besides, it’s a lot cheaper than having to pay dieticians for the same!

Start by introducing plant-based proteins into your diet. Recipes for vegetarians often feature beans, lentils, quinoa, and tofu. It becomes easier to enjoy nutritious food as you learn and experiment.

Make Your Own Diet Chart

The total calorie intake recommended for adult males and females between the ages of 19-30 are 2,400-3,000 and 2,000 respectively. The total intake must be spread proportionately between the various essential nutrients. Below you will find a chart of the essential nutrients, along with easily available and cheap vegetarian sources to get them from.

  • Protein: Seitan, tofu, lentils, chickpeas and beans
  • Vitamins (All): Vitamin fortified cereals, marmite and soya drinks, nuts, sesame seeds, leafy greens, carrots, fruits
  • Sugars: fruits & fruit juice
  • Carbohydrates: All veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Dietary fiber: banana, apple, beans, oatmeal, barley
  • Fats: flaxseed, olive oil, walnuts, chia seeds, fatty yogurt, coconuts
  • Calcium: broccoli, okra, cabbage, rice, oat, raisins, figs and calcium-fortified tofu
  • Sodium: Chili, salt (no extra effort is required for the most part)
  • Zinc: Legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains
  • Iron: bread, pulses, watercress, broccoli, dark leafy greens, nuts, apricots
  • Copper: Nuts, sesame seeds, mushrooms, leafy greens
  • Selenium: Seitan, brazil nuts, prunes, brown rice, baked beans
  • Manganese: Beans, legumes, brown rice, leafy greens, bran seeds, pineapple, almonds
  • Phosphorous: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, oats, rice
  • Potassium: Banana, cantaloupe, peas, cucumber, potatoes & sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc.

For a more detailed guideline in regard to how much of which nutrient you should be taking in accordance with your age and gender, visit the official government page for 2015 – 2020.

The original problem with fully vegan and some vegetarian diets was that they lacked certain essential nutrients, which mostly come from animal derived products, be it milk, meat, or egg. That is no longer a problem fortunately, because now we have dietary supplements. Protein, calcium, iron, or whatever else might be lacking in your diet, can be easily made up for by using appropriate supplementation.

Combined with the tips, a bit of reading, supplements and a few healthy meals at your favorite vegetarian restaurants, maintaining a nutritional, cruelty-free diet should not be too hard, too boring, or too costly at all.

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