vegan-menopause
  • Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Apr 12, 2024

Vegan Menopause Meal Plan by a Vegan Dietitian

The main focus of this article is to discuss the topic of building a vegan menopause meal plan. However, it’s still valuable for young women to get an idea about the dietary recommendation during this life stage. 

It’s crucial to recognize that there’s no miraculous solution or single food that can instantly make you younger or healthier. 

We want you to think about it as embarking on a new journey. The more time you invest to prepare for it, the more comfortable it will probably be for you. For example, you’d probably pack snacks and extra blankets or jackets in your car if you predict feeling cold or hungry. The same applies to being mindful of your present lifestyle and choices which can significantly impact your future health. 

Therefore, young women should start “preparing” for their menopause from early on by building a healthy lifestyle. 

Before we jump right into the topic of veganism and menopause, it’s important for you to know that you’re not facing this transition alone. 

If you are stressed or overwhelmed about this coming phase of your life, we don’t want you to worry. We have a whole team of certified plant-based dietitians ready to assist you throughout this journey. 

What is menopause? 

Menopause is the term used to describe the phase in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle stops. It is officially recognized when a woman goes without menstruating for a continuous period of 12 months or more. This absence of menstrual cycle is not caused by reasons like pregnancy or breastfeeding.

According to the World Health Organization, the typical age range for menopause onset is between 45 and 55 years. However, this is just an average, as some women may experience menopause before or after this age range.

The process of menopause is characterized by a decrease in estrogen levels in the body and the cessation of ovarian follicular function. Estrogen is the key hormone responsible for the female reproductive system.

Women often begin to experience symptoms related to the transition into menopause a few years before the actual onset of menopause itself. This phase is commonly referred to as perimenopause.

What are the symptoms you could experience during perimenopause? 

Perimenopause is the period of 2 to 7 years before menopause, during which women typically begin to experience various symptoms associated with the approaching menopausal phase.

  • Irregular Periods: One of the most evident signs of perimenopause is irregular menstrual cycles. This may manifest as missed periods, changes in the flow (either heavier or lighter), and/or inconsistent cycle lengths. These changes in menstrual cycle are often indicative of the transition into perimenopause. When it comes to menopause itself, it’s marked by the absence of menstruation for an extended period.
  • Hormonal Changes: Perimenopause is characterized by significant Hormonal changes, particularly involving estrogen. Estrogen plays many important roles in a woman’s body, so its variations during this phase can lead to various changes beyond irregular periods. These changes include: disrupted Sleep, mood Swings, hot Flashes, and night sweats.

Menopause and weight gain

Menopause can also be characterized by some health complications. One common issue middle-aged-women face during this phase is weight gain, particularly around the midsection. 

Studies have shown that postmenopausal women tend to have a higher waist circumference compared to premenopausal women. This suggests that during perimenopause and menopause, women tend to accumulate fat in their abdominal region rather than in their hips and thighs.

Several factors contribute to this weight gain:

  • Decreased Estrogen Levels during Menopause:

Estrogen is typically produced in the ovaries using cholesterol. 

When estrogen levels decline, it can lead to an increase in blood cholesterol levels. 

Elevated cholesterol levels can raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndromes, and obesity.

  • Loss of Lean Body Mass

Lean body mass refers to the weight of the body minus the weight contributed by fat. This lean body mass includes the weight of bones, muscles, skin, organs, and water. 

Decreased estrogen levels also play a role in reducing metabolism, which, in turn, leads to a loss of muscle mass. 

In simpler terms, menopause can cause women to lose muscle mass. As people age, they tend to experience losses in their lean body mass, not just muscle. This has the consequence of requiring less energy. 

Think of your body as a vehicle carrying a load. The lighter the load, the less energy (or fuel) you need to keep the vehicle moving. This is why women require less energy during menopause compared to their younger years, such as in their 20s.

Why is it recommended to lose excess weight during menopause?

Obesity, particularly abdominal obesity, is linked to several significant health risks, including a high risk of heart diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even mortality. 

However, it’s crucial not to assume that weight gain is an unavoidable consequence of approaching menopause.

Various factors, such as genetics, eating habits, and lifestyle choices, can influence weight gain during this phase of a woman’s life. 

Therefore, it’s important to realize that obesity during menopause can be prevented or managed with the right adoption of a healthy lifestyle and habits.

What is the healthiest menopause diet?

You might be wondering about the dietary choices or specific diet to follow during perimenopause and menopause. 

The following section outlines the key characteristics of a healthy diet recommended for this life stage, and you’ll find that a vegan or plant-based diet aligns well with these recommendations.

Here are the dietary habits proven to be beneficial for menopause and perimenopause:

  • Calorie Deficit: 

As mentioned earlier, a woman’s energy needs decrease during menopause. Therefore, it’s advisable to adopt a lower-calorie diet for those looking to manage excess weight. 

However, it’s crucial to emphasize that weight loss plant-based dietitians recommend healthy methods for weight loss. 

Nutrition remains essential throughout all life stages, including menopause, so overly restrictive or depriving diets are not recommended for weight loss.

As a general guideline, a daily calorie intake of 1200-1500 kcal/day is recommended for women during menopause. This range is broad because each woman is unique, and factors like activity level, height, age, weight, and lifestyle can influence caloric requirements.

Another approach is to subtract 500 calories from your usual daily intake to achieve a gradual weight loss of about 1 pound or half a kilogram per week.

If you are uncertain about your current calorie intake or energy needs, it’s highly advisable to seek guidance from plant-based dietitians who can provide you personalized assistance and support throughout your journey.

  • Adequate Protein Intake:

The general guideline recommends that women aged 19 and above should aim for a protein intake of approximately 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. 

For instance, for a 50-year-old woman weighing around 140 pounds, this equates to approximately 51 grams of daily protein.

For vegans, Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition recommends 0.9 g/kg/day for vegans since the protein in some plant-based foods is less digested. 

However, due to the muscle loss during menopause, it may be advisable for women in this life stage to consider a slightly higher protein intake. This will be within the range of 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (1-1.2g/kg/day).

It’s worth noting that certain health conditions, such as kidney issues, might necessitate a reduced protein intake. Hence, if you are uncertain regarding your protein requirements, seeking guidance from plant-based dietitians is a wise step.

For people following a vegan lifestyle, concerns about protein intake are common. 

Nonetheless, a well-planned vegan diet is not only suitable but also nutritious for all life stages, including menopause. 

The vegan diet offers a wide variety of non-animal protein sources, including legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, that can adequately meet your protein needs.

Maintaining a balanced diet with diverse food choices from all food groups ensures you meet your protein requirements with confidence. 

If you want further assistance in enhancing your vegan diet during menopause, consider reaching out to plant-based vegan dietitians/nutritionists for expert support in optimizing your dietary choices.

  • Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required throughout all phases of life. 

Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Since calcium and phosphorus are needed for strong bones ,ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin D is crucial for maintaining optimal bone health.

Women, in particular, are more susceptible to developing weakened bones as they age. This is why it is advisable to consider vitamin D supplementation to support and maintain healthy bones.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fats offer us various health benefits for the immune system, growth, vision, cell membranes, genetics, reducing inflammation, blood clot formation, and cardiac health

Omega-3 fats also play a protective role against metabolic syndrome, a condition that is often prevalent among menopausal women.

Furthermore, the vegan diet presents an additional advantage in this context. Western diets typically lack sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. 

Nevertheless, a well-planned vegan diet can be rich in essential forms of omega 3, primarily sourced from nuts, seeds, and nut and seed oils. 

  • Antioxidants:

Antioxidants are like important helpers for your body. They help protect your cells and slow down damage.

You can find lots of antioxidants in fruits, veggies, and even cocoa. Some foods rich in antioxidants are almonds, pecans, artichokes, blueberries, blackberries, and dark chocolate.

A well-planned vegan diet is full of these antioxidant-rich foods, so you’ll get plenty of antioxidants.

  • Whole Foods:

Instead of fast and processed foods, it’s better for women going through menopause to eat whole foods. These foods have lots of good stuff like nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that keep your body healthy.

Whole foods also give you the energy you need to fight fatigue and insomnia during menopause.

Remember, even if you take supplements, it’s still important to eat whole foods for your overall health.

Can you be plant-based if you’re perimenopausal?

Absolutely, it’s not only possible but also one of the healthiest dietary choices you can make. 

A plant-based diet is abundant in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. 

However, it’s crucial to ensure that you are following a carefully planned and balanced vegan diet to prevent any potential nutrient deficiency. 

In some cases, vegans might need to supplement certain nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium to maintain optimal health.

Does a vegan diet help with hot flashes? 

Another encouraging reason to adapt a vegan or plant-based diet is its potential to help with hot flashes commonly associated with perimenopause. 

This effect is primarily linked to the consistent consumption of soybeans in the diet. Research has indicated the beneficial role of soybeans in managing hot flashes. 

For more detailed information, you can read this study and refer to this blog article written by registered dietitians.

Is a vegan diet good for menopause?

A vegan diet is beneficial not only during perimenopause but also throughout menopause. 

A balanced well-planned vegan diet can help women through weight management. This diet will also provide you essential protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and offer nourishment to both your body and mind through the consumption of whole plant-based foods.

Does being vegan help with menopause?

Indeed, adopting a vegan or plant-based diet can be advantageous during both menopause and perimenopause. A vegan diet is linked to experiencing fewer symptoms and enjoying enhanced overall health during menopause.

Do vegans have less menopause symptoms?

A study has provided evidence that a plant-based diet is connected to a reduction in hot flashes, greater weight loss in menopausal women, and improvements across physical, psychological, and sexual aspects of well-being.

Do you age slower on vegan diet?

A vegan diet is linked to numerous health benefits, including improved weight management, a reduced risk of diabetes, and lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. 

These advantages can contribute to a more graceful aging process with a decreased likelihood of experiencing health issues.

What is a plant-based meal plan for menopause? Vegan menopause meal plan

Here’s a 7-day vegan menopause meal plan expertly crafted by dietitians specifically for women going through menopause. This meal plan has been carefully designed to deliver approximately 1300-1400 calories and 63-75 grams of protein per day, which corresponds to the recommended range of 1-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight for someone weighing 140 pounds.

It’s important to note that this vegan menopause meal plan may not be suitable for every woman, as individual dietary needs can vary. 

Therefore, consider it as a helpful template and consider reaching out to plant-based dietitians. They can assess your unique requirements and create a personalized meal plan tailored to your preferences and nutritional needs.

Day 1 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast1 cup of High protein overnight oats + ½ cup mixed berries31018.5
Snack1 cup of fresh strawberries481
Lunchveggie and hummus sandwich32513
Snack1 serving of soy lime roasted tofu16319
Dinner1 serving pasta arrabiata52220
Snack1 cup of watermelon230.5
Total139172
Day 2 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast1 serving of Banana Chia Seed Pudding Peanut Butter Parfait45826
Snack1 apple 1000.5
Lunch1 serving of Mexican Quinoa Bowl37716
Snack1 cup of plain salted popcorn 341
Dinner1 serving of vegan pasta frittata36228
Snack1 clementine 450.7
Total137572.2
Day 3 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast2 serving tofu scramble + 1 whole wheat toast325.518.4
Snack½ cup of edamame 1008
Lunch1 serving creamy vegan cauliflower soup36721
Snack1 cup of blueberries 420.5
Dinnerquick Greek curry fried rice43718
Snackvegan oatmeal cookie863
Total1357.568.9
Day 4 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast1 serving blueberry coconut smoothie bowl with cauliflower31326.1
Snack1 orange621.2
Lunch1 serving of lentil tabbouleh46019
Snack1 tbsp. hummus + 10 slices cucumber502.2
Dinner1 serving vegan tofu Bolognese47823
Snack½ cup green grapes310.3
Total139471.7
Day 5 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfastvegan breakfast sandwich43716.3
Snack1 serving of roasted chickpeas1006
Lunch1 serving of vegetable vegan frittata1399.5
Snack0.5 cup carrot sticks 351
Dinner1 serving vegan protein salad59631
Snack½ serving of silken tofu chocolate mousse644
Total137067.8
Day 6 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast1 serving of smashed peas and avocado on toast32415
Snackmini vegan quiches705
Luncheasy vegan bean tortilla44027
Snackvegan frozen yogurt protein cup1086
Dinner1 serving of Vegan Beet Burgers with Sweet Chili Slaw36512
Snack15 raw almonds 1043.8
Total141168.8
Day 7 – Vegan Menopause Meal Plan Calories (kcal)Protein (g)
Breakfast1 serving of easy vegan protein chia pudding25922.4
Snackpeanut butter bliss balls  1217
Lunch1 serving of protein packed soba noodles40821
Snack1 cup of blackberries642.1
Dinner1 serving Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers31114.4
Snack10 walnuts + 5 crackers2134.1
Total137671.1

Please be aware that this vegan menopause meal plan serves as a source of inspiration for preparing low-calorie, high-protein meals. It’s worth noting that you can extend its use beyond the initial 7 days, as some recipes will yield leftovers. 

For instance, with the vegan pasta frittata planned for day 2, you’ll consume one serving for dinner, but you can store the remaining portion in the refrigerator for consumption on the following day. 

By doing so, you can reserve the recipes planned for the next day and potentially stretch this vegan menopause meal plan for another week or more.

Other recommendation to help you in menopause

  • Regular Exercise:

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, it’s important to incorporate physical exercise and daily movement into your lifestyle. 

A sedentary lifestyle is linked to a higher risk of obesity, particularly abdominal obesity. 

Moreover, physical activity plays a crucial role in preserving bone health and preventing muscle and bone loss.

  • Supplements:

You may find it necessary to include supplements in your routine to meet specific nutrients requirements. 

Since individual requirements and conditions vary, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to determine which supplements are appropriate for you.

  • Limiting Processed Foods:

Processed foods are typically high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, making it easier to gain weight when consuming them. To promote better health, it’s wise to reduce your intake of processed foods.

  • Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol:

Restricting your consumption of caffeine and alcohol can have several benefits, including improved sleep, reduced alertness, better management of insomnia, and a decrease in certain menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

This new stage in your life as a woman should not be a cause for stress or concern. Just as you’ve successfully navigated past life stages, you can approach this one with confidence. 

You can book a free discovery call with one of our team’s plant-based dietitians to receive the support you need during perimenopause or menopause. More information about the process and fees can be found on our website.

© All Rights Reserved, Plant-Based Dietitians 2024