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The Vegetarian Diet: Lose Weight and Save Money
Published on June 29, 2022 and last updated for accuracy on July 8, 2022
Vegetarian diets have quite a following. They are more than just the latest fashion trend, but a lifestyle of choice. Roughly 22% of the global population is shifting to this diet. The desire to lose weight and raise awareness of environmental issues has made vegetarianism a practical choice for many. (1)
But, when it comes to eating healthy, there is one thing people are worried about – budget. Current spending habits, especially for those who buy organic produce, come at a steep price. The question is, how can you plan a nutritious and budget-friendly vegetarian diet and lose weight at the same time?
Are there any worthwhile ways to budget for a vegetarian diet? This guide will show you the ropes. We prepared a detailed overview of saving money and making the most out of a vegan diet. Here is all you need to know before shifting to this plant-based diet.
- Vegetarian diets can help curb the extra pounds. Mainly because they are packed with low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods.
- True vegetarians are spending less money on consumables compared to those who eat meat.
- Some of the lower expenditures come from the foods vegetarians eat.
Vegetarian Diet and Reduction of Body Fat
Around 35.6% of adults 20 years or older are obese. And over 1.4 billion are overweight. Having to deal with the extra pounds on a day-to-day basis can be quite a hurdle to overcome. That’s why a lot of people are looking to curb their pounds by removing meat from their daily diet.
Vegetarianism is popular around the globe. Asia is the continent with the biggest prevalence, with 19% of its population using a vegetarian or vegan diet. India is the single country with the largest portion (40% of the population) adopting this practice. In North America around 6% and in Central and South America about 8% of the population are vegetarians. (2)
There has been plenty of attention on plant foods when it comes to losing weight. That’s because foods like veggies, fruits, soy, and whole grains are low in calories, yet packed with all the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
So, can a vegetarian diet help you lose weight? Not necessarily. The vegetarian diet isn’t exactly the kind of fast weight loss diet you are looking for. It is more of a lifestyle choice. It’s true that some people get leaner just by following this diet. Especially if they ate plenty of meat before. Like in burgers, pizza, lasagna, and other foods.
2019 reports show that after 6 months of following a vegetarian diet, the greatest weight loss in subjects was 6.3% of their body weight. Although vegetarianism can provide moderate weight loss, it can still prove useful in the long run. (3)
Further research supports these results. Plant-based diets may offer beneficial properties on body weight and BMI in people with type 2 diabetes and overweight. The drop in weight can be attributed to the increased intake of plant proteins and polyunsaturated fats. (4)
But, also because you will be eating fewer animal proteins and saturated fats. Of course, the vegetarian weight loss results will vary from person to person. But, with the right nutrients and dietary changes, you can stay on the right track. For a quick outlook on this diet, take a look at the pros and cons of vegetarianism below.
- Great variety of foods
- Better weight control
- Provides complete nutrition
- Reduces food costs
- Ethical treatment of animals
- Not always healthy
- Less convenient
- Potential for nutrient deficiencies
Benefits of Going Vegetarian
The vegetarian diet isn’t a single option. It comes in a variety of diets, all of which follow different food habits. Overall, vegetarians are individuals who don’t eat seafood, poultry, and meat. However, those with diverse dietary patterns can have different ideas on what to eat and what not to eat.
For example, there are the total vegetarians, who don’t consume animal products like fish, poultry, or meat. They also refrain from eating products derived from animals. Such as gelatin, dairy products, and eggs. Then, there are the lacto-ovo vegetarians. They don’t consume fish, poultry, or meat. But, they do eat dairy and eggs.
You also have Lacto vegetarians, who do eat dairy foods and don’t consume eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Ovo vegetarians, for example, follow a different dietary pattern. They do consume eggs. However, they refrain from munching on dairy goods, fish, poultry, and meat.
Then, there are partial vegetarians, who consume fish, but avoid any other type of meat. And pollo-vegetarians who eat poultry explain Harvard Health. Now, the health benefits of going vegetarian can vary based on the dietary pattern selected. (5)
But, all in all, you can expect:
- Better heart health
- Reduced risk of having type 2 diabetes
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved bone health
People are choosing this lifestyle for a number of reasons. When you decide to make a change in your lifestyle, you should think about what suits you best and whether the foods you will be eating will be to your taste. So, if you ever considered vegetarianism, it is worth a try. All of its benefits make it a solid choice in promoting overall health.
How Do Vegetarians Lose Weight Fast?
The weight loss results might not just come down solely to the food you are eating. But, also the energy content and nutrient composition of various plant-based diets. If you are looking to lose weight while eating vegetarian meals, there are a couple of tactics you can use to promote your weight loss journey.
You can: (6)
- Curb the intake of processed goodies. Many people choose processed foods out of convenience. It is true that it is saving you time and effort. But, when you supply the body with too much sugar, salt, and unhealthy additives on a regular basis, it’s easy to jeopardize your weight loss results.
- Fill ½ your plate with non-starchy veggies. Opt for high-fiber foods. Particularly leafy greens, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms. They keep you feeling full for longer and help you reduce your calorie intake.
- Enjoy high-protein vegetarian foods. There are plenty of vegetarian-friendly foods that are packed with protein. Dietary protein amplifies energy expenditure, increases satiety, and helps with weight loss. Options like lentils, soy foods, nuts, beans, and seeds can give you that necessary boost. (7)
- Don’t go overboard with the portion size. Vegetarian meals can be super healthy. But, when you don’t watch your portion, you can overindulge in high-calorie foods and pack on a few extra pounds. So, stop eating when you are full.
- Focus on unprocessed whole foods. There is a reason whole foods are better than processed ones. First, they are packed with nutrients. Secondly, they can keep you feeling fuller for an extended period of time. Therefore, you can use them to avoid gaining weight.
How Much Can You Save by Going Vegetarian?
Is it cheaper to be vegetarian? This is a question that often pops up whenever someone is considering this eating lifestyle. That’s because a healthy diet is considered quite the handful when it comes to managing your budget. Buying fresh fruits, veggies, and plant-based oils means more expenses.
But, if you eat what’s in season, rather than purchasing gourmet foods, then vegetarianism can be a cost-effective solution. One study showed that Americans can save $746.46 a year on a vegetarian diet. Further data supports these results. (8)
The cost of a vegetarian diet vs meat diet is heavily influenced by your shopping habits. For example, purchasing gluten-free and organic products can add up the price. A full organic diet is a lot more expensive than a regular one. Mainly because the products come at a heftier price.
Experts analyzed how much the diet is costing Americans. They assessed the average weekly bill for grocery shopping between 19- to 71-year-olds. Regular diet amounted to an average weekly grocery bill of $61.85. A regular diet consists of many food groups, such as proteins, grains, dairy, etc. People are eating meat alongside vegetables and fruits.
An organic diet, however, amounted to $97.14 on average. This means people are spending more to get the desired result. A gluten-free diet is cheaper than a completely organic diet. However, it is still more expensive than a regular one, amounting to $76.65.
Whereas vegan diets have an average weekly grocery bill of $66.17. In other words, it is only slightly more expensive than a regular diet, and a lot cheaper than an organic one. For those looking to become budget-friendly vegetarians, there is ample opportunity for you to save some cash. (9)
Why Is Vegetarian Cheaper?
According to a 2016 survey, true vegetarians spend less cash on consumables compared to meat-eaters. These expenditures are somewhat due to the foods they eat. But, in some cases, the cheaper price has something to do with the different demographics than meat-eaters. (10)
This lifestyle is promoted for being cheaper and more ethical. You can make your dollars stretch since you will be spending less on meat. What you may not be aware of is that animal proteins tend to be the most expensive products on the plate. So, eating beans is a lot cheaper than eating meat.
But, when you think about it, there are other ways that you can still spend cash. Vegetarian options come from different food sources. Such as vegetables, eggs, legumes, and beans. These are food options that you can find at the supermarket at an affordable price.
However, if you are looking to purchase meat substitutes that taste like meat, the price will add up. People tend to avoid these products due to their high chemical content and price. If you decide to stick to whole foods, then there are many ways you can save some cash. It is just a matter of what you are eating and your money-saving strategies.
Vegetarian Money Saving Tips
How can vegetarians save money? For any vegetarian on a budget, it makes sense to have a couple of money-saving tips to manage your spending. Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of bucks just on food. Here are a couple of tips that can solve some of your spending.
- Compare prices. Don’t buy food from the first store you see. Instead, compare the prices in different shops, so that you can find the ones that are best for your budget. Some local Asian grocery stores tend to be the most affordable. But, it will vary based on your location.
- Buy in bulk rather than packaged goods. Purchasing in bulk is almost always cheaper per unit. This could be a tiny difference per each use of a product, maybe a couple of pennies. But, if this is a food item you consume on a regular basis, these pennies will add up quickly. If let’s say you save 10 cents on one food item a day, this will amount to $36.50 in savings annually. Make sure when buying in bulk, you are getting products that you use. Otherwise, they will expire before you have the chance to eat them. (11)
- Plan out your meals for the week. Planning can help you cut costs. Mainly because you will know how much you would be spending, and you will avoid purchasing food you don’t need. Besides, this is a practical way of reducing food waste.
- Make whole foods a priority. Takeouts and prepackaged meals will cost you an arm and a leg. Especially if you are ordering them day in and day out. Ideally, you should be cooking at home to save on costs. And whole foods can help with that. Plus, if you buy produce in season, you can really save some cash.
- Skip the organic. Organic is healthy. But for a vegetarian on a budget, these foods come at a hefty price. When you can afford to buy organic stuff, then, by all means, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to take a step back.
- Grow your own food. If you have a garden at your disposal, then you can save hundreds of dollars a year by growing different herbs. Herbs can be used as a seasoning or in tea. There are an array of options to grow, which makes them a solid addition to your daily routine. Vegetarians like to plant cilantro and parsley in their gardens. They also choose to grow their own sage, thyme, basil, and rosemary. This habit is good for the wallet and healthy for the body.
Some Cheap Meal Examples
Do you want to make a budget-friendly vegetarian meal, but don’t know where to start? When you come home after work, it’s a good idea to have a warming bowl full of low-fat and filling soup. That’s where chickpea and red lentil soup can help. To add a bit more flavor, feel free to sprinkle some chili.
A red lentil soup can also pair well with some carrots. They are highly nutritious and delicious. To keep things simple, prepare pasta with some cheesy broccoli. It is a meal that anyone can prepare, it’s cheap and quite satisfying. A classic potato soup is also a budget-friendly dish. As well as some roasted cauliflower with cashew sauce and tomato.
The vegetarian diet has plenty of benefits, nutrients, and vitamins to offer. It is also a good lifestyle choice for those who want to support the ethical treatment of animals. Although it may not be the ultimate weight loss strategy, it can still come a long way. Particularly for those who are making healthy food choices and decide to stick to this lifestyle for the long haul.
Overall, people are afraid that trying vegetarianism will add up the costs. While it is true that fresh produce can cost more, there are ways to go around that. With the tips and information listed here, you can find all the ways to eat well and still get more savings. What are your thoughts on a vegetarian diet? Share your experience in the comment section below.