October is National Vegetarian Awareness Month!

October is National Vegetarian Awareness Month!

October 29, 2018

There are several reasons people choose to not eat meat. Maybe you’d like to become a vegetarian for your own personal reasons but you’re not sure if you can take on the challenge or you’re worried you might not be getting the proper nutrition from a vegetarian diet. If you’re looking to give it a try or already are maintaining the lifestyle, here are some tips that will help you sustain a healthy lifestyle as a vegetarian.

One thing I’d like to talk about first is the label “vegetarian”. A lot of foods can be labeled as vegetarian or vegan but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be considered healthy. Oreo cookies are vegetarian for example and we’re all well aware that they are not healthy. A lot of times people hear the word “vegetarian.” “vegan”, or “gluten-free” and think that it means it’s healthy. That is not always the case, so make sure as you start or continue with your vegetarian journey that you don’t fall into this trap. It’s all too easy to become a junk food vegetarian.

A vegetarian diet can be quite healthy though if you do it the right way. The main concern when approaching a vegetarian diet is the lack of protein. However, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy products are great ways to fill that gap. Greek yogurt is also an amazing source of protein if you’re doing a meatless diet. One cup is the equivalent of a 3 oz portion of meat.

EGGS!!! This one is getting its own paragraph. I love eggs. They are a great source of protein and are so good for you! They also contain B12 which is a vitamin that you need to pay attention to if you’re going vegetarian. I could go on and on about them, but these are a great source of protein and nutrition in general for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

When creating a main dish, consider having the “meat” of your plate as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or lentils and beans. The remainder of your plate should be filled with vegetables. A lot of your favorite meals can be made vegetarian. A veggie burger for example can be delicious and packed with protein from the different grains and beans that are used to make it. Tofu is another great replacement to use for meat. It’s flavorless, so you can dress it up however you want and center your dish around it.

As I mentioned before, dairy is a great source of protein. But this can be a trap sometimes as people opt for full fat options of dairy like cheese or full fat yogurt. Always look for the lesser fat options. Fat is good for you but in moderation and in the right form. Saturated fats (present in whole milk yogurts, milks, and cheeses) should be limited as they’ve been linked to higher cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re eating lettuce for every meal. There are so many options. The main things to be sure you’re getting enough of is protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B-12. All of the sources I’ve mentioned above will supply you with these nutrients. Stick to these tips and you can live happily and healthily as a vegetarian!

Be sure to check out my website for some great vegetarian recipes.

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