The People's Perspective on Medicine

To Control Your Weight, Be a Healthy Vegetarian

Spanish scientists find that a mostly vegetarian diet with vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and olive oil may help you control your weight.
Close-up of  human hands  cooking in a kitchen. Friends having fun while preparing fresh salad. Vegetarian, healthy meal and friendship concept.

Can a vegetarian diet help control your weight? Lots of people think so, but not all vegetarian diets are alike. Simply avoiding meat doesn’t necessarily mean you fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes. A vegetarian diet filled with processed foods like chips and sweets might not help much in the weight department.

Control Your Weight with Fruits and Veggies:

Spanish scientists suggest that loading up on healthy plant-based foods can have benefits (Nutrients, July 9, 2019). On the other hand, drinking fruit juice or sugary beverages and eating potatoes and pastries may not be helpful. Although such a diet is vegetarian, it is not particularly healthful.

The Spanish researchers recruited more than 20,000 people who have graduated from the University of Navarra since 1999. The volunteers in this prospective cohort study answer detailed questionnaires every two years. For this study, dubbed SUN, responses from 11,000 participants were analyzed.

People whose diets contained mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and coffee were less likely to gain significant weight over the decade. Those who frequently consumed sugary beverages, including fruit juices, potatoes, refined grains and pastries were just as likely as the non-vegetarians in the study to gain weight.

Learn More:

To control your weight, you wouldn’t need to adopt a completely vegetarian diet, although you certainly could. Eating habits that focus on whole plant-based foods, with as little processed food as possible, appear to be beneficial in most respects.

If you would like to learn more about following a DASH diet, with an emphasis on vegetables and fruits, or a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables and fruits and uses fish in place of red meat, you may wish to read our books. The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies has detailed descriptions of both these dietary patterns. Our cookbook, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy, explains how to make delicious meals. Not all of them are strictly vegetarian, but there are plenty of recipes that can help with a healthy vegetarian diet.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Gómez-Donoso C et al, "A provegetarian food pattern emphasizing preference for healthy plant-derived foods reduces the risk of overweight/obesity in the SUN cohort." Nutrients, July 9, 2019.
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This article appeared to be little more than an ad for your two sellable products.

We respectfully disagree.

Plant-based eating is so much healthier than anything else I have ever done. It brought me off of all prescriptions, managed weight, and my blood work is excellent. And, I can eat all I want.

Veggies are great! Lost 20 pounds so far!

It hasn’t been working for me. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years.

I have been your listener for many years. It is very helpful for Non-bias credible information that you and your speakers have been provided. Thank you and People’s Pharmacy program.

Hongjian He

I tried the vegetarian thing 20 years ago. It ultimately caused more problems than it solved. At least for me. For some folks maybe it’s the right thing for their metabolism. Everybody has a different metabolism & it really comes down to what works for you. I recently lost almost 100 lbs following a paleo/keto type diet. I’ve never felt better.

A vegan diet does help, but you can still get overweight. Most vegans are more weight-conscious and exercise, not necessarily the diet but lifestyle. I’ve been vegan for years and years, and my labs are “better than most”.

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