Which camp do you fall into – team meat-lover or team plant-powered? Whether you eat meat in your diet or you’ve followed a vegan diet for decades, building more plant-based meals into your diet throughout menopause is one fantastic way to provide your body with the highest quality of nutritional support.
This moment of transition isn’t just a biological change, but a period when a woman’s body requires even more nutritional intentionality than before in an effort to balance the hormonal shifts menopause brings along with it.
Plant-based diets have long been celebrated for their nutritional density, offering a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibres on a single plate. For women in the midst of menopause, these nutrients can be vital to supporting many aspects of their health, including bone density, heart health, and essential daily functions. As the natural production of oestrogen drops during menopause, the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease can rise. By looking to plants as a natural source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, the risk of deteriorating bone health and an unstable heart rhythm may be reduced in small or large ways.
It’s not just about preventative health measures, either – the naturally occurring phytoestrogens common to many plant food sources can offer a powerful natural remedy for a range of menopausal symptoms. Foods like soybeans and flaxseeds can mimic the function of oestrogen in the body, offering some relief from the uncomfortable experience of hot flushes or ever-fluctuating moods.
With so many benefits attached to simply increasing your plant food sources throughout menopause, we’re here to give you some of our favourite vegan and vegetarian recipes.
What should a menopause-friendly, plant-based diet include?
With so many hormonal changes at play throughout menopause, looking to food sources to provide supplementary nutritional support is crucial. Eating more vegetarian and vegan meals can result in:
- Meals with higher nutritional content: a plant-based diet can naturally lend itself to a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients. We’re advised to choose foods that are nutrient-dense instead of calorie-dense, with options like dark leafy greens (which can offer calcium support) high on the priority list.
- The benefits of phytoestrogens: with oestrogen on the decline, phytoestrogens can offer a beneficial supplementary source. These naturally occurring compounds can mimic the effects of oestrogen on the body, meaning foods that are high in phytoestrogens can be of particular benefit to menopausal women.
- Eating enough Omega-3 fatty acids: these fatty acids are essential for both heart and brain health, as well as helping to fight against inflammation.
- Balancing fibre needs: a healthy digestive system is where overall health and well-being begins. Digestive issues can be common for women throughout menopause, making high-fibre foods all the more valuable in helping to maintain and promote a healthy gut.
- The provision of calcium and Vitamin D: since bone health becomes a key priority during menopause, making sure your diet has enough calcium and Vitamin D is important in preventing further declines where possible. A plant-based diet can offer many opportunities to increase your intake of both throughout the day.
Looking for support in assessing how your diet impacts your menopause symptoms? Contact the Australian Menopause Centre to learn more.
Our favourite vegetarian and vegan recipes
Ready to get cracking in the kitchen? Here’s a handful of our favourite vegetarian and vegan recipes to add to your weekly staples.
- Vegetarian quiche. Quiches are a versatile way to add all kinds of vegetables into one simple serving. While this recipe suggests mushrooms, zucchinis, carrots, and onions, a vegetarian quiche is a great way to make use of leftover vegetables thanks to its flexible nature.
- Vegetarian mushroom ‘meatballs’. Do you love a good meatball, but looking to reduce your meat intake and increase your veggie intake instead? This meatball recipe uses mushrooms instead of meat to create a rich, delicious meal, and is a great option for those who prefer to meal prep in advance.
- Vegetarian open sushi. Particularly during Australia’s hot summers, sweating over the stove is the last thing we want to do at dinnertime. This open sushi recipe is fresh, fun, and only needs heat for the rice and tofu elements.
- Vegetarian Mexican bowls. This is another versatile meal that can make easy use of vegetable substitutes depending on what’s in the fridge. For those with fussy eaters in the family, these Mexican bowls can be customised, allowing everyone to enjoy them just to their liking.
- Vegetarian Pad Thai. If takeaway Thai food is one of your favourite meals, it’s time to create some magic at home. This is a vegetarian Pad Thai recipe that’s just as delicious as its meat versions.
- Vegetarian mushroom ragu. Hearty, simple, and delicious, this mushroom ragu is so enjoyable, you won’t even realise it doesn’t have meat in it.
- Vegan Pho. Delicious broth, noodles, and a whole bunch of flavour – what’s not to love about this warming vegan Pho recipe?
- Vegan roasted cauliflower salad. Cauliflower is a versatile and filling vegetable, and in this salad, it takes centre stage. Complete with a vegan ranch dressing, this is one you’ll be coming back to time and time again.
- Vegan ‘sausage’ rolls. Missing the old-fashioned sausage roll? There’s nothing to miss with this vegan version, where mushrooms and lentils work together to create a hearty filling.
- Vegan stuffed roasted pumpkin. Pumpkin and paprika are always a welcomed flavour combination, and with the added flavour hits of pine nuts and maple syrup, this is a meal you’ll be proud to serve at your next dinner party.
- Vegan chickpea satay curry. In just 30 minutes, you can be enjoying this fresh vegan satay, with peanut butter and coconut milk coming together to create a smooth, fresh sauce.
- Crispy vegan noodle salad. This fresh, colourful salad is crunchy and delicious, with a creamy vegan dressing to finish it off and pull the flavours together. It’s perfect as a main or as a side dish.
At Australian Menopause Centre, we’re always looking to provide the highest quality of menopause treatment support for women across Australia – and that starts on your plate! To find more resources for your menopause journey, contact our friendly team today.