• Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Feb 23, 2024

Vegan Menopause Meal & Plan

Menopause is a stage that almost every woman goes through, marking 12 months after her last menstrual cycle. The time leading up to this, when there might be changes in menstrual patterns, hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep troubles, is known as perimenopause or the menopausal transition. 

The transition phase typically spans about 7 years, but it can extend up to 14 years. Throughout this time, women often encounter both physical and emotional hurdles. 

Thus, taking care of yourself and ensuring proper nutrition becomes pivotal not just for physical health, but also to alleviate symptoms, making this phase more manageable. 

This article will provide you with a comprehensive insight into the vital nutrients needed during perimenopause and offer a concise guide on the optimal meal plan for this phase.

vegan-menopause-diet

What are the essential nutrients for vegan menopause?

Calcium

Following menopause, there’s a significant decrease in estrogen levels. This drop weakens the body’s capacity to retain calcium in the bones, resulting in increased calcium loss and a higher risk of osteoporosis

Studies show that nearly 20% of bone loss occurs during menopause, and about 10% of women over the age of 60 have osteoporosis. This underscores the significance of ensuring adequate calcium intake during this life phase.

You can find calcium in these foods:

  • Fortified plant-based milk
  • Beans, peas, lentils
  • Soy foods
  • Seeds
  • Some nuts: almonds, brazil nuts
  • Green left vegetables (eg. kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage)

Women aged 19-55 should aim for 1000 mg of calcium daily, while those over 55 should target 1200 mg.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for bone health as it boosts the absorption of calcium into our bones. Additionally, low vitamin D levels are related to mood swings, an increased risk of heart disease, hot flashes, and other symptoms. Given its importance, it’s vital to maintain adequate vitamin D levels during perimenopause.

While vitamin D is mainly found in animal products, our bodies can also produce it when exposed to sunlight. Some fortified plant-based foods like plant-based milk and morning cereals contain vitamin D, but the amounts are typically small compared to our daily needs. And in places like Canada, sunlight during the winter months is very minimal.

For these reasons, we suggest that women going through menopause consider a vitamin D supplement. Those aged 19-50 are advised to take 400 IU, while women over 50 should aim for 1000 IU.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

During menopause, a significant drop in estrogen levels can lead to fat accumulating in the blood vessels. This accumulation can cause these vessels to narrow, subsequently elevating the risk of heart disease.

However, research has provided a silver lining. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to elevate HDL levels, which effectively enhances the body’s capability to remove fat build-up in the arteries. This, in turn, aids in reducing the potential of heart disease onset.

Additionally, another study highlighted a connection between low omega-3 intake and the onset of depression during menopause. Given these findings, it’s evident that maintaining an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids is vital during this period in a woman’s life.

You can find omega-3 fatty acids in these plant-based foods:

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Algae oil
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds

If you’re considering supplements, it’s wise to consult a registered dietitian. They can review your diet and advise on the necessity and type of supplements suitable for you.

Phytoestrogen Foods

You might have heard that soy products or supplements can alleviate menopause symptoms. But how accurate is this?

This belief stems from the fact that soy contains phytoestrogens. You also can find phytoestrogen in flaxseed, chickpeas, peanuts, barley and many more. As the name suggests, these compounds resemble our body’s estrogen. Because of this similarity, it’s thought that our body might use phytoestrogens as its own estrogen, potentially easing menopause symptoms.

However, studies on phytoestrogen supplements for menopause have shown varied results. There’s no clear consensus on the effective dosage or how long to take them.

While we don’t specifically recommend phytoestrogen supplements for managing menopause symptoms, including these phytoestrogen-containing foods in your diet can be beneficial. After all, they are whole foods providing numerous nutrients and can add diversity to our dietary choices. 

If you would like to use phytoestrogen supplements, please consult with your healthcare provider first. 

vegan-menopause-diet-plan

What Should Your Vegan Menopause Diet Look Like?

Now let’s shift our focus to a bigger picture, what should a vegan diet during menopause encompass, given the essential nutrients?

Heart Healthy Diet

As previously discussed, the risk of heart disease will elevate when the menstrual cycle comes to an end. Therefore, eating a heart-healthy diet is crucial for women undergoing this stage.

For optimal heart health, it’s vital to eat a balanced diet. That means including a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Additionally, it’s essential to monitor sodium intake, as it can impact both heart and bone health.

Excessive sodium can cause the body to retain water, increasing blood volume and, consequently, blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Moreover, too much sodium can result in calcium loss, which is detrimental to bone health.

While many recognize salt as a primary source of sodium, it’s also prevalent in many processed foods, canned goods, prepared meals, and baked items. Women undergoing menopause should aim to consume less than 2000 mg per day for optimal health. 

Additionally, you should limit foods with added sugar since added sugar contributes to the development of heart stroke and attack.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine that is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and cacao foods and drinks may worsen the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and trouble sleeping. In the meantime, caffeine may promote calcium loss which further increases the risk of osteoporosis. 

Therefore, caffeine should be limited during perimenopause. If you’re keen on your coffee, consider opting for decaffeinated varieties or pair it with plant-based milk to offset potential calcium loss. 

When it comes to alcohol, limiting or completely avoiding is recommended, especially during menopause. Not only can it increase the risk of heart disease, but it can also intensify menopausal symptoms. 

Based on Canada’s 2023 guidance for alcohol and health, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether for optimal health. Remember, the more you drink, the greater the potential health risks. 

menopause vegan meal plan

Sample Vegan Menopause Meal Plan 

Take a look at our sample 3-day vegan meal plan for menopause, each day would provide around 2000 kcal and 60-70 g of protein.  It could be a good example for you to start your journey for healthy living during menopause.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

And don’t forget to take your daily vitamin D supplement!

Please note that this is only an example to provide general guidance, please adjust it based on your personal needs and preferences. If you would like to reduce your calorie intake, you can just have 2 snacks throughout the day or decrease the portion size for meals. 

Vegan Menopause Meal Plan, Let’s Chat!

Menopause is a natural process, it’s not a disease or something that you should be ashamed of. Always remember to prioritize yourself, not just for your physical health but also for your emotional well-being. 

If you would like to receive professional support to help you manage the menopause symptoms and live healthy during perimenopause. Don’t hesitate to book a discovery call with our plant-based dietitians to learn more about your personal meal plan.

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