Vegetarian/Vegan Diet Plans – Why They’re Important As We Age

Vegetarian/Vegan Diet Plans – Why They’re Important As We Age
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

Last night I had a dream that my gramma was skinny. She was skinny, and she hugged me. It was odd not only to be hugging someone who passed away a long time ago, but to be hugging a much smaller version of her. She was slim (and quite good looking!) when she was young, but I only know that from pictures.

In the dream, she was getting ready to serve me dinner, and I told her that I was on a vegan diet plan now. She said not to worry, she had just the thing. She came out of the kitchen with a lentil version of her classic hamburg stew.

I’m not really sure what this dream meant, but it got me thinking about what things can change as we get older, and what things usually don’t. We might accumulate more and more of what my brother calls gramma-isms: “it’s tougher where there’s none”, “it’s always in the last place you look”, and so on.

Grandchildren get much more spoiled than children were. Patience and insight can get easier. Not always. Sometimes.

Above is a picture of my grandpa and gramma. You don’t often see a switch to a vegan diet plan as people hit social security age, although cutting meat out of the grocery budget might help on a fixed income.

You also don’t often see people lose a significant amount of weight once they get past a certain age. Motivation and activity levels go down, habits are harder to break – but there’s also a physiological reason.

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Our metabolisms tend to slow down as we age, so we need less calories. The trick is that we need the same amount of vitamins and minerals – so we need to shift to more nutrient-dense foods and cut down on the calorie-dense ones. It can be tough to make this shift in the face of old habits and tastes.

A vegetarian or vegan diet plan can really help with that strategy, since animal foods are pretty heavy on the calories per gram. There are lots of calorie-dense plant foods too though, like nuts and seeds, so they need to be kept in moderation. Fresh vegetables are the most nutrient-dense, and least calorie-dense, foods (if you have trouble making vegetables into delicious meals, I cover that topic in depth in the free 7 Secrets To Shape Up Your Healthy Eating Habits).

Now, I got thinking about this topic because of the dream of my gramma, who appeared to me in her seventies, but the metabolic slow down starts a lot earlier than that. I’m getting closer and closer to my thirties (although Phil’s mom and her sisters have encouraged me to keep on celebrating my 29th birthday for many years to come), and that’s around the time it starts.

That makes it a perfect time to shift to a vegetarian or vegan diet plan, or at least to eat less meat. Work on gradually increasing the portion of fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet as you get older to keep nutrient levels up without too many calories.

One of the changes I’ve found in the last few years is that I really enjoy exercising. I was always active in sports (particularly figure skating), but found workouts boring. Now I find them energizing!

What changes have you noticed – in yourself or others – with aging, whether it be getting into your 20s or your 80s or anywhere in between? Let me know below.


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