Have you been considering going vegetarian – either part-time or full-time – but didn’t know how or where to start? It’s a lot easier than you think and will benefit your mind, body, and spirit in so many ways. Did you know that following a well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can:
- decrease your risk of heart disease
- decrease your risk of cancer
- decrease your risk of diabetes
- improve your energy
- improve your mood
- decrease depression
Vegetarianism comes in all shapes and sizes, so there’s likely one that best fits your style. The foundation of a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Here’s where the variations occur:
- Lacto-ovo: The only animal products consumed are dairy and eggs
- Lacto: The only animal products included are dairy
- Ovo: Eggs are the only animal food allowed
- Pescatarian: Fish is the only animal food included; no dairy or eggs
- Flexitarian: Any of the above types of vegetarian diet are followed the majority of the time; meat/poultry/pork are included on occasion.
- Vegan: No animal foods of any kind are eaten, worn (no leather), or used on the skin.
- Raw vegan: This is probably the most extreme form of vegetarianism, as not only are no animal products consumed, nothing must be heated past 118 degrees.
Not all vegetarian diets are healthy. Mac & cheese and french fries are vegetarian, but aren’t part of a well-balanced diet. Poorly designed vegetarian diets can put a person at risk of deficiencies for calcium, iron, protein, and vitamin B-12. The good news is that there is ample scientific evidence showing that well-designed vegetarian diets, which are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and low in saturated and trans-fats, not only improve your health (as mentioned above) but make losing weight and maintaining your weight much easier.
The best way to start out changing over to a vegetarian diet is to start with one day a week. Try joining us on our Meatless Mondays and see how easy it can be. Here’s a sample day:
Breakfast: oatmeal cooked in almond milk and cinnamon, topped with some chopped nuts and fresh fruit
Snack: sliced apple and almond butter
Lunch: Salad with mixed vegetables, black beans, a scoop of quinoa, and topped with salsa and sliced avocado
Snack: a bowl full of Edamame (soy beans)
Dinner:Oven-roasted vegetables and pan seared tofu drizzed with balsamic vinegar syrup
Snack: Sauteed pears sprinkled with granola
You see – nutritious, delicious, and easy. Try it out and be pleasantly surprised. Every Monday we’ll supply you with another fabulous vegetarian recipe to help you in your quest.