Review: Nutrisystem for vegetarians – When many people switch to a vegetarian diet, they find themselves actually gaining weight because they rely heavily on carbohydrates like pasta and rice to feel satisfied and may overuse dairy as a source of protein.
With a meal plan system, like Nutrisystem, you don’t have to worry about choosing foods because the plan does it for you, and sends you prepared meals each month.
However, until fairly recently, it could be difficult to find a meal plan that allowed for vegetarian eating habits and also was also designed for weight loss. Nutrisystem now offers its weight loss plans for vegetarians. (click “shop plans / vegetarian”)
First, How Nutrisystem Works
Generally speaking, Nutrisystem consists of monthly shipments of prepared meals that are “perfectly” portioned for your dietary needs. With Nutrisystem you’ll usually eat smaller meals more frequently (6 meals) throughout each day.
Their current major selling point is that you can lose up to 13 pounds in the first month of the program.
In fact, they usually have promotions for new customers that focus on this first month, as they believe you’ll be hooked after experiencing fast initial results.
Unlike other programs that rely on a one-size fits all solution, Nutrisystem offers specialized plans, including a programs designed to help diabetics and vegetarians lose weight.
Here’s what a sample day on Nutrisystem’s Vegetarian plan might look like:
- 7:00am breakfast: Apple cinnamon oatmeal
- 10:00am mid-morning snack: Non-fat yogurt
- 12:30pm lunch: Cheese tortellini with vegetables
- 3:30pm afternoon snack: Apple slices with peanut butter
- 6:30pm dinner: Vegetarian chili and a side salad
- 9:00pm evening snack: Chocolate cupcake
Cost: About $12 per day with discount
Nutrisystem: Not So Good for Vegans
If you follow a strict vegan plan, Nutrisystem isn’t a good choice because it’s vegan menu items are very limited and must be ordered a la carte, rather than included in a plan, which also makes it very expensive, in addition to impractical, to be vegan on Nutrisystem.
That Nutrisystem offers a vegetarian plan at all is a step forward and hopefully a vegan plan may happen down the line as awareness grows about the health and environmental risk factors of consuming meat.
A Vegetarian Diet
In the most basic of terms, a vegetarian diet consists of no meat. Vegetarians eat mostly plant based food but there are variations within the term. The strictest vegetarians are also known as vegans and only consume plant-based foods without any animal products, such as dairy, honey or gelatin. Some vegetarians are known as lacto-ovo vegetarians and don’t consume meat, chicken or fish but do eat dairy and eggs.
Depending on the category your vegetarian diet falls into, you may want to read labels carefully to ensure that animal products, like chicken or beef broth, don’t end up in your meal as hidden ingredients. A system like Nutrisystem makes this easy because you just have to pick the category and know that there will be no animal products in it.
Conveniences of a Vegetarian Diet Using Nutrisystem
For many vegetarians, especially those that don’t cook themselves, it can be difficult to sort out which meals contain animal products. For example, ordering beans at a Mexican restaurant incurs a risk of ingesting lard, and French onion soup at a bistro means ingesting beef stock.
By using the Nutrisystem plan for vegetarians, the risk of going off a vegetarian diet is greatly reduced because meals are precooked for you. You don’t have to read labels or be a culinary wizard to enjoy a meat-free meal.
Another helpful component of the Nutrisystem vegetarian plan is that many vegetarians don’t eat enough protein and may lack the nutrients that a complete protein provides. The Nutrisystem vegetarian plan is said to be dietician approved and promises to be a balanced mix of good carbs and proteins so that vegetarians don’t go hungry or risk a vitamin deficiency.
That said, it is often helpful to augment any meal plan with dietary supplements because modern diets often lack all the essential nutrients.
Many vegetarians get bored on a vegetarian diet because they tend to over-rely on one source of food, like salad, when trying to eat healthy and to avoid overloading on less healthy readily-available options, like pasta.
The Nutrisystem vegetarian plan includes 90 different dishes so that it takes a while to get bored. Because the Nutrisystem vegetarian plan is designed to be followed for only four weeks, it is enough variation to try different meals while filling in with the occasional snack or protein shake.
Overall, the Nutrisystem plan for vegetarians has many of the same pros and cons as other Nutrisystem plans. It’s a good tool to start your weight loss or to lose weight quickly, but you’ll have to commit to sticking with it if you want to keep the weight off.
Nutrisystem’s greatest strength is convenience, and is a preferred diet option for people with a busy lifestyle. While some people may prefer cooking or eating more restaurant food, Nutrisystem’s monthly prepared meal delivery is simple, and helps take the guesswork out of whether dishes are fully vegetarian.
However, Nutrisystem is not suitable for a vegan plan and can’t really be customized to become vegan. Also, like Medifast and other Nutrisystem plans, there are some complaints about the cost of the program. It is a convenient but pricey weight loss option and many meals require you to add your own fresh vegetables and starches from the supermarket, which adds an additional cost.
The monthly costs are also much more than the monthly cost Weight Watchers, which is deceptively low because it doesn’t include any food. However, Weight Watchers does offer custom options for vegetarians under its OnlinePlus and meetings plans.
Also, because it is so easy and you don’t have to count calories (or points) and read ingredient labels, it doesn’t teach you or help you to follow a vegetarian plan on your own, which may be a downside for some people.