Going Vegetarian

When you hear the word vegetarian do the words; hippie, weird, healthy, unhealthy, tofu, vegetables, or meat haters come to your mind? Many of us consider this diet weird, and don't understand it! In our culture 9% of females say they never eat meat, and 5% of males say they never eat meat, in a national poll done by the Vegetarian Resource Group in 2006! Apparently skipping meat isn't weird anymore, but becoming quite mainstream! Many people choose this diet for health reasons, but many others simply do not believe in killing animals and the treatment that they receive, and wish to lower their carbon footprint in the world! All great reasons! http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue4/vj2006issue4poll.htm

Vegetarians eat a plant based diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds, but there are differences from that point on. Some are very strict and eat no meat, poultry, fish, dairy products or eggs and are known as Vegans! Some include dairy, some include dairy and eggs, some include fish, dairy and eggs, and the least restrictive types are known as semi or cheaters because they occasionally eat poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. There is definitely variety in this diet!


This Diet can be a great choice because:

  • It is low in saturated fats that meat contains and plants contain very little cholesterol.

  • It provides a high fiber diet which can help with weight control.

  • Plant foods are high in B-vitamins, folic acid and phytonutrients. Most super foods are veggies or fruits choices!

  • It can be lower in calories, if a diet rich in legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables is followed and not just non meat processed junk.

  • It can be healthier, because meat and poultry are more often carriers of food illnesses than produce. There are many ways to eat meat safely by buying from your local farmers market or buying organic meats, not factory farmed though!

  • Vegetarian food sources are healthier for the planet, because they require less energy to produce than meat.

  • Plant eaters and fish eaters tend to live longer than meat eaters.

  • Lowers incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and macular degeneration.

There are many reasons for following a healthy vegetarian diet, but it is also possible to fill up on empty calories and be considered a vegetarian too. Fattening, processed non meat foods like potato chips, French fries, Mac and cheese, cheese pizza, ice cream, crackers, cakes, cookies, candy, and chocolate should be limited on this diet, just like any other eating plan. On the whole though, most people choose this diet because they are concerned about their health!


The Four Food Groups:

Eating this diet is simple, not so different than a meat eaters diet! Four food groups to follow:

Fruit: 3 or more servings per day. Includes all fruits. A serving is a medium piece of fresh fruit, 1/2 cup of cooked fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, or 4 ounces of juice (remember those time juice glasses your grandma had). Easy!

Vegetables: 4 or more servings per day. A serving is 1 cup raw veggies or 1/2 cup cooked veggies. Fresh or frozen, raw or cooked are all acceptable! Include a variety of differently colored veggies in this diet as with any diet. Easy!

Whole Grains: 5 or more servings per day. A serving is 1/2 cup of rice or grain, 1 ounce of dry cereal or 1 slice of bread. Each of your meals should be built around a healthy grain. Easy!

Legumes: 2 or more servings per day. A serving size is 1/2 cup of cooked beans, 4 oz of tofu or tempeh, or 8 ounces (1 cup) of non-dairy milk like soy, almond, rice or coconut milk. There are so many different bean choices, veggie burgers, Soy Hot dogs, or sliced meats. One or two servings of nuts or seeds can also be included. One serving is 1 Tablespoon of nuts or nut butters so use them sparingly for salad toppings or spreads! Easy!


Not a Weird Diet, but Simple Lifestyle Solutions for Healthy Eating

  • You substitute legumes and nuts and seeds for the meat group of traditional diets. Any traditional recipe can easily be modified by exchanging beans, tofu, or a meat substitute for the meat or poultry!

  • You cut out foods that are high in fat and lack fiber, and increase foods that are low in fat and high in fiber!

  • Can help to promote weight loss and weight control!

  • Encourages eating real foods!

  • Protein is simply derived from plant based foods rather than animal based choices!

  • Calcium is derived from vegetables and non dairy choices! (1 cup of almond milk contains 45% of your recommended amount and 1 cup of soy milk contains 30%)

  • Encourages more vegetables in the diet which is my favorite part!

This is not a weird diet at all, but one that is a healthy diet habit. Many cultures center their meals on beans and vegetables and eat little meat! Americans eat more meat than any other country in the world! Change your thinking! I would encourage everyone to try a vegetarian diet by supporting the Meatless Monday idea, where you eat no meat on Mondays! Its a growing world-wide movement! Join the fun and see that meat free is not weird but just healthy eating. You might find you actually feel better on Mondays and Tuesdays, by adopting some of these great lifestyle solutions! Going vegetarian might be the choice for you!

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