When the Zone diet first arrived on the weight loss scene, it came under heavy attack from vegetarians and vegans. Vegetable-lovers found the diet far too meat-focused, and found themselves left out of the latest diet. Since then, Dr. Sears has released a vegetarian version of the Zone diet, called the Soy Zone, but the plausibility of a vegetarian zone diet is still hotly debated.
On the yes, it’s possible side, Dr. Sears and vegetarian Zone dieters believe that soy and other legume-based products can substitute for meat. If one were to eat four ounces of firm tofu, one would acquire 10.1 grams of protein. Theoretically, it would be the same as eating 1.2 ounces of fillet steak.
Lots of substitutes are available for vegetarians, say the proponents of a vegetarian Zone diet. In addition to soy beans and soy-based products, skim milk, cheese, nuts, eggs, nut-butters, chickpeas, green peas, vegetable protein, and seitan, a wheat gluten extract, are all viable options.
What about the fat content? The Zone diet requires that you consume 30% of your calories from mono unsaturated fat, a fat that is good for the heart. Simply because vegetarians stay away from meat and poultry does not mean that vegetarians must consume less fat.
Butter or margarine on green beans would fulfill the same function as the fat in a steak. Nuts and nut butters contain lots of fat as well. The best choice, however, are avocados. Avocados are full of mono unsaturated fat—exactly what the Zone diet requires!
With so many substitutes available, why do some vegetarians and doctors still say that a vegetarian Zone diet is not possible? If one were to follow a soy Zone diet, one would experience severe vitamin and mineral deficiency. Vegetarian Zone dieters would be missing out on vitamins A, D, E, B3, B6 and B12.
What’s more worrying, however, is the calcium deficiency. Low calcium can lead to mineral loss from the bones: osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means weaker and brittle bones that easily fracture. A hip fracture that would otherwise heal can mean death if the patient has osteoporosis.
At this point, we can conclude that a vegetarian Zone diet is certainly possible. With a few substitutes, and vitamin and mineral supplements, the vegetarian Zone dieter can lose weight, and maintain good health. Being vegetarian or vegan really does not make the Zone diet much more complicated.
In fact, a vegetarian Zone diet may be healthier for you than the standard Zone diet. Because vegetarians consume all of their protein from plants, they are also consuming lots of fiber. For instance, just one cup of green peas fulfills 35% of your daily fiber requirement.
Why is fiber good for you? Firstly, it helps maintain regular bowel movements. Secondly, fiber extends the feeling of fullness. A cup of green peas and a fillet steak provides you with the same amount of protein. However, the peas will last you four hours as opposed to two. Not feeling hungry between meals is a very important part of any diet.
So what have we learned? If you’re vegetarian, and want to get into the Zone, go for it! Not only is it possible, it’s good for you!