Thinking Of Switching To A Vegetarian Diet
A question on many people’s minds is “what makes a good vegetarian diet.” There are a lot of reasons one might choose to be vegetarian, some very different from others. Regardless of what your reasons are, there are a lot of great and healthy foods available.
A lot of vegetarians find it difficult to find good food in an American culture because there is such an abundance of meat. Some meat eaters feel that this is no problem because the meat products can easily be “picked” out of foods. However, it is very often the case that meat products will be unthinkingly added to foods for flavor. It is not easy to “pick” these meats out. In fact, it is rarely the case that the meat in foods are easily removed, and doing so can often leave the food bland and unappetizing if the meat was a major ingredient.
Contrary to popular belief, a vegetarian is not limited to salads. There are many different types of vegetarians as well. Semi-vegetarians avoid only red meats, but will eat fish and poultry. Lacto-vegetarians will eat no meat, but will eat eggs. And vegans (or “total-vegetarians”) will eat only plant-based foods. In each case, a regular diet will be different, but even vegans are able to enjoy a variety of foods.
Vegetarian diets tend to be healthy since they are devoid of many high-cholesterol and high-fat meat products. Vegetarians tend to have lower risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity; although, this does not mean that every vegetarian diet is automatically healthy. There are plenty of foods that are vegetarian which can also contain high levels of fats and cholesterol.
Vegetarians must also be cautious about getting all of the nutrients they need. Since many do not eat any meat or dairy products, it can be difficult to achieve proper amounts of protein. Plant proteins can be substituted for meats and dairy based proteins as long as the sources are varied and enough calories are being consumed to meet daily energy needs. The same holds true for iron, which is abundant in red meat, eggs, and liver. Dried fruits, spinach, and dried beans are examples of good, plant based sources of iron.
Though vegetarians who do not consume dairy products may find it more difficult to obtain proper amounts of calcium, studies have shown that vegetarians are better able to absorb the nutrient than nonvegetarians. Though the reason for this is still unsure, it is something that vegetarians should take advantage of. Some good sources of calcium for vegetarians are spinach, broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products.
Becoming vegetarian is not always an easy choice at first; however, it does not have to be a limiting choice. With such a wide array of healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods available, there is no reason to rely on the same foods in your diet. Like with any nutritional diet, be sure to vary your meals so that you receive the nutrients you need from a variety of sources.