Ten Things Every Vegetarian Should Know

How many times have you heard a guy say, “Well, my girlfriend is a vegetarian so I guess that makes me one too,”? Despite the somber tone in his voice as he says this, what he doesn’t realize is that diet of eating no meat may not be a bad thing. A vegetarian diet is a very healthy lifestyle to choose and growing in popularity.

More and more people are seeking the health benefits of a diet rich in plant-based foods; foods that are now easily found on the shelves of almost any neighborhood grocery stores. According to the American Dietetic Association, more than two and half percent of the U.S. adult population eats a meat, poultry, and fish free diet. Of course, some of these people follow this vegetarian diet for religious or ethical reasons, but others are mostly doing it to enjoy a diet rich in plant foods with many of its health benefits, ranging from weight loss to preventing disease.

Vegetarian diets were once thought to be lacking in certain nutrients, but now those same experts say that with a little planning, vegetarians can easily meet all their nutritional needs. Diet experts are here to give you these ten tips for working more vegetarian meals into your daily diet while meeting all your nutritional needs:

First, start by substituting beans for meat or poultry in your favorite dishes. The easiest way to transition into a more plant-based diet is to use familiar recipes but substituting meat for vegetarian ingredients. Make these substitutions in dishes that have strong flavors, such as those with a sweet and sour or a marinara sauce. Once you get used to beans in your diet on a consistent basis, experiment with meat substitutes, which look and taste like meat but are made of plant products.

The next time you're at the store, pick up one of many pre-prepared vegetarian convenience foods. Try to several options as a sample to find the ones you enjoy.

Look for foods that are fortified with extra nutrients for a nutritional boost. Choose soy products fortified with calcium, vitamin D and B12.

Try tofu and soy crumbles, which are mild-tasting and absorb the seasonings and flavor of whatever you cook them with.

Eat plenty of dark, leafy greens. They are rich in iron and provide calcium.

Top your salads, soups, stews, and omelets with beans, nuts, or seeds to add protein.

Add a once-daily multivitamin/mineral for nutritional insurance.

Choose low or nonfat dairy products.

Boost the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by eating fatty fish, enriched eggs, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil.

Take it easy at first. Try going meatless one day a week at first. You don't have to cook elaborate vegetarian meals; it can be as simple as having a veggie burger and salad for dinner.

Vegetarianism is an absolute healthy lifestyle, but remember lean meat, fish, and poultry also have nutritional benefits, provided you keep portions moderate. To gain the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, think of the meat, fish, or poultry as a side dish and fill the rest of your plate with plant foods. Always choose the leanest cuts if and when you do eat meat.

Seek the opinion of your doctor before following of any treatment and regiment. Only a doctor can provide you with advice on what is safe and most effective for you.

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