Can The Dukan Diet be Classified as a Vegetarian Diet?
Amongst the various healthy diets available globally today, the Dukan Diet stands out as a special one with an excellent track record. An interesting aspect of this diet is that it achieves its results through high protein and low carbohydrate intake.
The Dukan Diet consists of the following four phases:
- Weight loss
(A full definition of the above phases can be found here).
Protein rich foods typically include different types of red and white meats and fish. This is fair and good for meat eaters but what about vegetarians? The fact of the matter is that we can just as well refer to this diet as a healthy vegetarian diet provided that we select appropriate substitutes for the meats.
The Dukan diet sounds ideal, as it does not rely on starvation tactics. It simply requires you to consume food with high protein content, low carbohydrates content and little or no fats. Nuts and beans, typically a source of protein for vegetarians, are not allowed. So, how then can a vegetarian create a diet menu consisting solely of protein only meals?
For meat eaters this poses no problem because they can derive their protein content from lean meat and fish.
Pescetarians (vegetarians who eat fish) will not have too much trouble adhering to the rules of the Dukan diet, as they will find enough protein in fish and shellfish. Meals consisting of various types of fish, smoked salmon, mussels, prawn, crab, etc. will provide a sufficient supply of protein as well as variety. Many pescetarians also eat animal products such as eggs and dairy. Smoked salmon and cottage cheese, a meal also enjoyed by many meat eaters, makes a perfect and delicious meal suitable for all the phases of the Dukan diet.
However, there are vegetarians (possibly the majority) who do not consume fish. Strict vegetarians do not eat animal flesh and this includes fish! This brings us to the question: Is it possible for these people to benefit from the Dukan Diet?
The answer is a definite “Yes!”
Although the Dukan Diet book is not specifically aimed at vegetarians, tofu is included as one of the permitted ingredients. Tofu is one of the healthiest and most popular choices for vegetarians to substitute meat in programs such as the Dukan Diet.
Tofu is a pure vegetarian product, made by coagulating soybean and water. It is produced from the curdling of soymilk and then pressing the curd to arrive at the final product. Tofu is very high in protein and calcium content and very low in carbohydrates.
There are sufficient delicious tofu recipes that you can try to ensure that your Dukan Diet stays on track.
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
TVP is not mentioned in the Dukan Diet book, however it is a high protein food with a very low level of carbohydrates. Quorn, a mycoprotein like TVP, is also not mentioned in the book. However, this is another high protein food that is very low in carbohydrates. This vegetarian substitute is now available in many different variations. Some have higher carbohydrate levels than others, so vegetarians need to be alert when shopping.
Skimmed milk, low fat cottage cheese, fromage frais, and quark are all mentioned and permitted on the diet. These foods can be used liberally although with some restriction on egg yolks and milk.
The challenge for the strict vegetarian, who wishes to follow the Dukan Diet, is to compile a viable meat free menu. While it may not be possible to reduce carbohydrate to the levels demanded by Dr. Dukan, it is certainly possible to get close to the ideal.
There are a lot of different food items, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that can be included in the diet. For vegetarians there are not too many options in the first phase of this diet. However, the second phase of the Dukan diet is concentrated on vegetables so, you can enjoy a healthy vegetarian diet with protein rich vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, French beans, mushrooms, pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. The third phase involves the inclusion of certain fatty foods and the fourth phase is basically a maintenance phase.
So, apart from a little bit of fancy footwork during the first phase, we can comfortably classify this program as a healthy vegetarian diet.