If you have a strong interest in holistic health and well-being, you may have been contemplating the vegetarian lifestyle. Despite this, you might not know enough about it to take the plunge. Don’t worry, just check out the following as a starting point and get ready to go meat-free.
A vegetarian diet is a healthy one providing you ensure you eat a well-balanced diet and understand the importance of your vitamin and mineral intake. Many people think that vegetarians struggle to ensure their nutrients are correct but this isn’t the case. Of course, you do need to learn a bit more about the food you eat and to make it work for you and it’s best if you understand why you have decided to give up eating meat.
It may be that you are taking a conscientious stand against modern farming practices or animal cruelty. You may simply not enjoy eating meat. Your reasons as to why are for you alone but know that people are going to quiz you on your dietary changes and everyone has an opinion. Providing you have made the change because it matters to you, then that’s sufficient reason. If you genuinely care about the treatment of animals and you wish to eat healthily, there’s a greater chance of this becoming a dedicated and long-lasting lifestyle choice.
Worried About Protein?
It’s easy to gain your quota of proteins when you stop eating meat products. You can opt for Soya or Quorn products which are full of protein and they still offer the convenience of use. In addition, you can use vegan cheeses or non-dairy Soya milk for extra protein and calcium too. Increase the number of pulses in your diet, so have nuts, beans, lentils, and peas. Not only is there an abundance of protein but you also gain all-important levels of iron, calcium, and zinc.
What if I Become Anemic?
Don’t worry, you won’t. You can gain iron from nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, and dairy products as well as from green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron so make sure you are eating plenty of foods with this vitamin.
Essential Fats, Vitamin D and B12
As a vegetarian, the choice to eat eggs and dairy products is up to you. This often becomes a conscientious choice and if you eventually decide to cut out all animal products, you must make sure you consider all the nutrients. B12 is present in these foods as well as in some cereals. Vitamin D is available in Soya milk and eggs. You can also get plenty of vitamin D if you spend a little time in the sun. For your essential fats, try rapeseed, hemp, linseed, nuts, and of course, eggs.
Finding Recipes That Are Easy to Cook
There are so many vegetarian recipes available these days that becoming a vegetarian is actually quite easy. The thing to remember is variety. If you don’t experiment a little with food and prepare ahead, you may find yourself hungry in the supermarket. If that happens, you may opt for an easy choice which may contain meat. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of vegetarian meals that are quick and easy to cook alongside those which take a little more planning. But seriously, this is part of the fun. You won’t like them all and you may choose to rely heavily in the first instance on Soya and Quorn products, but you don’t need to.
There are so many delicious vegetarian recipes to choose from that you are spoiled for choice. Plus, if you are a little creative in the kitchen, you can create meat-free versions of your usual meals. Home-cooked vegetarian foods are often healthier and lower in fat than most meat dishes.
Check for Hidden Extras
When you first go vegetarian, you may need to spend a little extra time in the supermarket checking labels on products, even those you have been buying for years. You may be surprised by some of the ingredients which sneak into well-known products. Consider Worcestershire sauce. This has fish stock in it. Another common mistake is buying jelly. This is not vegetarian-friendly but there are alternatives. Also, check the ingredients if you are eating out. One classic mistake is that of Parmesan cheese as it’s not vegetarian and yet, may be labeled so on a menu.
If you enjoy a beer, you need to check what you are drinking. Unfortunately, many ales which are cask conditioned use isinglass which comes from the swim bladders of fish. Keg beers and lagers and even some canned beers may be the same. Conditioned beers from the bottle are not always treated this way. Spirits are usually fine to drink but even wine may use animal-derived products although organic wines are usually alright.
What’s the Best Way to Start?
Although becoming a vegetarian is really not that difficult to do, it does take a little planning. It is important that you read up on your vitamins and minerals and find out more about the vegetarian lifestyle before taking the plunge. This will help you to make a successful transition and that’s what you want, right? If you have a family, it is possible that not everyone will want to become a vegetarian and this can create difficulties.
People often think that vegetarian food is extremely bland but this is not true at all. Why not introduce a few vegetarian meals into your weekly diet? If you make them super-tasty and the whole family starts to love them, you will find it easier to make most of your meals meat-free.
Introduce a vegetarian day or a vegetarian week and create a recipe plan for that duration. You may need to prepare some foods ahead. Don’t be caught out by not having prepared food in advance after all, when the hunger pangs strike, it’s good to have some vegetarian options ready. If you want to give up or reduce dairy products, gradually introduce Soya milk, walnut milk, or hemp milk. They are great on cereals or when cooking and you will quickly adjust to the taste. You may find that you take your meat-free experiment even further and decide to go vegan. If you want to find out more about this way of life, you can do so here.
Whatever you decide, know that you are reducing your carbon footprint and standing up for animals everywhere.