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Everyday choices: Vegetarian or traditional big breakfast?

Having a big breakfast at home or at a café is enjoyable whether you eat meat or not. But is a vegetarian big brekkie automatically a healthier choice?

Vegetarian big breakfast

Ingredients: Two grilled tomato halves, half an avocado, one cup of baby spinach, one scrambled egg, two grilled vegetarian sausages (we used Bean Supreme) and one slice of multigrain bread

  • 2650kJ, 31g protein, 40g fat, 10g sat fat, 30g carbs, 9g sugars, 8g fibre, 960mg sodium, 90mg calcium, 3mg iron, $5.90

vs

Traditional big breakfast

Ingredients: One hash brown, two grilled tomato halves, half a cup of fried mushrooms, one fried egg, one grilled sausage, two rashers of bacon and one slice of multigrain bread

  • 2970kJ, 30g protein, 39g fat, 10g sat fat, 55g carbs, 6g sugars, 7g fibre, 1730mg sodium, 65mg calcium, 3mg iron, $4.32

Both big brekkies contain around a third of our daily energy needs – hence the ‘big’ brekkie title. Compare this with three Weet-Bix and a cup of trim milk, which gives us just 13 per cent of our daily energy. Looking at the protein, fat and saturated fat, the meals are very similar, and both provide 40 per cent of our daily saturated fat intake. So we’d need to take care with what we eat for the rest of the day to make sure we didn’t have too much saturated fat.

The carbohydrate in the vegetarian big brekkie is considerably lower. Courtesy of the fillers in the meat sausage, the traditional brekkie has double the carbs, but it’s not a high-carb meal, with only 55g per serve.

However, the sodium in the traditional big brekkie is a problem. Coming from the hash brown, sausage and bacon, the traditional big brekkie gives us three-quarters of our daily upper recommended intake in one meal.

So, is the vegetarian big brekkie really a healthier choice? With only around half the sodium, we’d say yes. Remember, both are big brekkies in terms of energy and saturated fat. Having a big brekkie will suit some people who need more energy in the morning and don’t snack or have larger meals later in the day. For others, a big brekkie is an occasional special treat. And having less meat in a traditional big brekkie will reduce both the saturated fat and the sodium, making it healthier.

Compared with a traditional big brekkie, this vegetarian choice has:

  • 11% less energy
  • 45% less carbohydrate
  • 45% less sodium.
First published: Apr 2018



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