Vegetarianism is a healthy and life prolonging diet choice. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, vegetarians had lower rates of death from things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even kidney failure.
These are great motivators to get started on a vegetarian diet, but before you do there are some do’s and don’ts that you will want to follow to ensure that you have the best experience.
A Vegetarian Diet: Do This!
Eat Whole Food
Instant foods are a very tempting option when you’re cruising through the frozen section of your grocery store. Unfortunately, the synthetic processes that these foods go through remove many of the natural nutrients and add unhealthy products our bodies don’t need. Avoiding processed foods will help ensure you get the most out of your vegetarian diet. Instead, make sure you’re eating a wide variety of whole foods that are unprocessed and offer only one ingredient. This gives you a huge variety of options from beans and nuts to whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Replace Meat in Your Favorite Foods
As previously mentioned, most of your favorite foods can be made without meat. Beans are a great alternative when it comes to replacing meat in a regular dish. Milk can be replaced with almond or soy milk, and cheese can be replaced with soy cheeses. You don’t have to avoid the things you love. Just re-think the ingredients and find appropriate substitutes.
Consult A Nutritionist
A nutritionist or dietician can be a great asset when beginning a vegetarian diet plan. They can help establish a sound nutritional program that includes the foods you like to eat and can make the whole process hands-free. Also, most medical plans cover this service if it is conjunction with a health and wellness or preventive care medical program.
Keep in Mind Your Health Goals
It’s always a good idea to have people in your life who are also vegetarian or vegan. There are many support groups both locally and online that offer community and support.
Get excited about your new lifestyle choice! You are doing something good for your health.
Vegetarian Diet: Not This!
Don’t Forget The Protein
Protein is an absolute necessity. Thankfully, you have lots of options and a good variety when it comes to choosing your protein. Many vegetarian and vegan friendly foods contain protein. There are many great alternative foods that make it easy to enjoy burgers, tacos, and chili without the beef. You can eat stir fry and kabobs without the chicken. Just try different recipes to find the ones you like.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Tofu, Tempeh And Other Soy Proteins
It can be intimidating to look at a package that contains a white cube and not have any clue as to what to do with it. Don’t let fear keep you from using great soy products to replace meat in your recipes.
Go online or buy a book about how to use them and begin to experiment with recipes. Before you know it, you will be an expert vegetarian cook.
Don’t Forget The Supplements
One of the biggest mistakes vegans and vegetarians make is to not deal with their nutritional supplement needs. Supplements can be incredibly important for having a healthy, well-rounded diet when you are a vegetarian.
The first on the list is B12. It’s the superhero of vitamins and supports nerve and blood cell function as well as other important functions. It is also key to oxygen moving through the body and helps your body make DNA. Because this vitamin is such a superhero it’s not one you will want to do without, however the primary source for this wonder vitamin happens to be found in beef and liver.
This doesn’t mean you have to do without because many foods are fortified with B12 and you can get it as a supplement. When you are picking a food or drink that has been supplemented make sure that the label reads at least 25%.
Daily vitamins are also a good way to ensure that you are getting a balanced and healthy amount of the nutrients you need in addition to your regular diet. Ask your doctor or nutritionist about supplements you may need.