Turning vegetarian may seem tough and though many people think of switching to a diet which involves little or no animal-based foods, they don’t have the will power to make the transition. Some people who are really willing to go vegetarian may have a lot of questions about the whole thing, which is good because you don’t want to jump into this without knowing all about it!
If you’re planning to turn vegetarian or have already given up on meat and more, you need to get your facts right! Read on to know all you need to be aware of.
There Are Different Types of Vegetarians
People turn to vegetarianism depending on certain motivators such as the environment, their health, views on animal rights, etc. As these motivators are variable, people may tweak their food habits accordingly. Depending on your preference you can choose your diet as follows:
-A semi-vegetarian or a flexitarian diet involves eating a vegetarian diet but you can consume meat occasionally
-A pesco-vegetarian diet includes fish, dairy, and eggs but no meat and poultry
-A lacto-vegetarian diet includes only dairy products in addition to fruits and vegetables
-A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet includes eggs and dairy products
-An ovo-vegetarian diet includes only eggs, and no meat and dairy products
-A vegan diet excludes meat and animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese, honey, gelatin, etc.
The Good Part
It would be wrong to say that a particular diet is better than the other. All diets have their advantages which you can enjoy only if you eat right. Here are some benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
-Grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables tend to be lower in calories than meat and poultry.
-Whole grain cereals are rich sources of vitamin B while fruits and vegetables are packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals.
-Plant-based foods are low in saturated fats and have zero or low cholesterol. They also have a higher amount of fiber.
-Environmental pollutants tend to concentrate in fatty tissues of animal meat. Since plant-based foods are lower in the food chain, you don’t have to bother about ingesting pollutants.
-Harmful bacteria and pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables can be easily washed away while trimming off excess fat from meat cuts is less effective if you’re trying to avoid toxic chemicals and micro-organisms.
Seafood, poultry, and other meats are frequent carriers of food-borne illnesses.
Eating Right is of Utmost Importance
A vegetarian diet is healthy and can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, simply giving up on meat and/or dairy won’t help.
If you want to avail the benefits of a vegetarian diet, you need to eat right. That’s because animal-based foods are not just high in fats and cholesterol; they also have a lot of essential nutrients. If you’re switching to a vegan diet, you’ll need to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrition.
Furthermore, giving up on meat and/or dairy and feasting on junk foods like chips and cheese-loaded vegetarian burgers and pizzas, sweets, carbonated drinks, etc. won’t keep you healthy. Make sure you get enough of these nutrients from your food.
Protein is essential for growth and maintenance and also plays an important part in several other body functions. You can get ample protein from nuts, beans, peas, and soy products like tofu and tempeh. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can get protein from eggs and dairy products too.
This mineral helps build and maintain bones and teeth. Milk and milk products are an excellent source of calcium. You can also get calcium from orange juice and dark-green leafy vegetables like bok choy, turnip greens, collard greens, and mustard greens.
Remember that the amount of calcium the body can absorb from these sources varies. If you’re following a vegan diet, you can get more calcium from calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, calcium-fortified soymilk, and tofu made with calcium sulfate.
The primary role of iron is to help carrying oxygen via the bloodstream. You can get iron from spinach, turnip greens, lentils, peas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, molasses, whole wheat breads, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Dried fruits like prunes, raisins, and apricots are also packed with iron.
Eat iron-rich foods regularly as our bodies do not absorb iron from plant-based foods as well as they absorb iron from meats. Eating foods rich in vitamin C will help your body absorb iron better.
Another mineral that the body absorbs better when it comes from animal foods is zinc. As a vegetarian, eat lots of whole grain breads, zinc-rich vegetables and plant-based foods such as beans, lentils, and soy foods.
This highly essential vitamin comes from animal sources only. Your body can’t do without it so be sure to eat adequate amounts of milk products and eggs. Vegans can go for cereals and soymilk fortified with vitamin B12.
If you’re not getting enough nutrition from food, you can consider taking nutritional supplements. Buy them from the chemist or get free samples online. Just be sure to not over-do it. Also, it is preferable to get in touch with a nutritionist before you commence taking supplements.
With the information provided here, you are sure to have all your questions about becoming a vegetarian answered. Remember that whatever your reasons are for becoming a vegetarian, your health should be your priority. Consider your needs and choose the best vegetarian diet for you accordingly.