Being a vegetarian is not just about giving up meat. It’s about adopting a compassionate lifestyle that prioritizes the well-being of animals and our health. Instead of cutting out certain foods, followers of the vegetarian diet choose to eat more plants and fewer animal products. As a result, vegetarians tend to have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Compared to people who follow an omnivorous diet (one that includes both plant and animal foods), those who are vegetarian are almost 25% less likely to contract these diseases!
A plant-based diet is also more sustainable than other diets because plants take up far fewer resources to grow than animals like cows. In addition, going veg has been proven to help you lose weight faster and easier than other diets. If you want to adopt a healthier and more compassionate way of eating that also has numerous positive long-term effects on your health and the environment, read on as we explain everything you need to know about following a vegetarian diet!
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
A vegetarian diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and certain grains, legumes, and soy products that do not contain animal flesh. There are several different types of vegetarian diets, each of which has its own rules and health benefits. The most common types are:
-Lacto-Ovo vegetarian– This is the most common type of vegetarian diet. People who follow a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet eat both dairy and eggs as well as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. Depending on the specific type of vegetarian diet, an ovo vegetarian may or may not consume dairy products.
-Lacto vegetarian– A Lacto vegetarian diet is similar to the Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet but does not include eggs. People who follow a Lacto vegetarian diet may also choose to avoid dairy products as well.
-Ovo vegetarian– Ovo vegetarians consume eggs but do not eat dairy products. -Vegan- Vegans are vegetarians who also abstain from consuming any animal products, including dairy, eggs, and any meats.
How to Follow a Vegetarian Diet
-Plan ahead– The first key to success when following a vegetarian diet is to plan. This means being aware of what you are eating and consuming a variety of plant-based foods consistently. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables of all colors every day, legumes (like beans, chickpeas, and lentils), whole grains, nuts, seeds, soy products like tofu, and plant-based fats like avocados and coconut oil.
-Eat enough calories– Most people who are vegetarian do not eat enough calories or protein. To prevent feeling tired and lightheaded, make sure to eat enough calories per day and make sure that a majority of those calories come from plants. You can also add protein-rich foods like beans, quinoa, and nuts to your diet to help prevent muscle loss.
-Supplement with B12– Although most vegetables, grains, and nuts are rich in vitamins, one vitamin that is often lacking in the vegetarian diet is B12. This is especially true for people who follow a vegan diet, as B12 is only found in animal products. B12 is an essential vitamin that helps develop red blood cells, prevents fatigue, and protects the body from both heart disease and certain types of cancer!
Tips for Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
-Identify your motivations– Are you eating vegetarian for health reasons? Or perhaps you’re interested in the environmental impact of your eating habits? Or maybe you’re doing it for ethical reasons? Whatever your motivation, it’s important to understand why you want to make the switch to help you stay motivated and meet your goals.
-Start slow– Transitioning to a vegetarian diet is not something that should be done overnight. It can take several weeks or even months to become accustomed to new eating habits. To make this process easier, start by trying out a few easy vegetarian dishes like a tomato and mozzarella sandwich on whole grain bread, a baked potato topped with beans and salsa, or a veggie stir-fry with brown rice.
-Ensure you get enough B12– As we mentioned above, many vegetarians overlook the importance of B12 and thus run the risk of becoming deficient in the vitamin. One way to avoid this is to take a daily B12 supplement.
-Explore new cooking techniques– Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to settle for boring and unappetizing dishes! Vegetarian cooking is a wonderful way to experiment with new and exciting foods. You can also try vegan baking and cooking techniques to create new treats that everybody can enjoy!
-Try gardening– If you have the space, gardening is a wonderful way to get close to nature and make sure you’re eating as many organically grown fruits and vegetables as possible.
-Social support– Last but not least, don’t forget to seek social support! Joining a local vegetarian society or online community can help you meet other vegetarians and learn new recipes and cooking techniques.
3 Breakfasts for Vegetarians
Traditional oatmeal with nuts and seeds – Oats are a great source of energy and B vitamins, which help your body process energy efficiently. Plus, they are naturally gluten-free and vegan. Add a banana or berries to give it a healthy twist.
Eggs with whole-wheat toast – Eggs are one of the best sources of protein. They also contain essential nutrients like vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. To make it vegetarian, try replacing the egg with a tofu scramble.
Breakfast smoothie – To make the perfect vegetarian smoothie, add a banana, a handful of berries, a spoonful of peanut butter, and a handful of oats. You can also try adding cherries, coconut, chia seeds, and even spinach for extra nutrition.
3 Lunches for Vegetarians
Indian chickpea salad – Chickpeas are a wonderful and nutritious legume that is high in fiber and protein. You can make this salad by combining the chickpeas with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a healthy dressing. Plus, you can easily turn this into a sandwich by using whole-wheat bread instead of crackers.
Vegetarian pizza – Pizza is one of the most popular vegetarian meals out there! You can make a vegetarian pizza by using a whole-wheat crust and topping it with vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and onions. You can also add nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor.
Vegetarian curry – Curries are easy to make and are a great way to get some extra vegetables into your diet. You can try making a vegetarian curry with potatoes, carrots, and peas.
3 Dinners for Vegetarians
Vegetarian chili – This simple and quick meal is packed with beans, vegetables, and spices that are full of flavor. Chili is a great dish to make when you’re looking to use up leftovers in your fridge. You can also freeze chili in portion sizes to make an easy and healthy meal later on.
Pasta with tomato sauce – Pasta is a classic Italian dish that you can easily make vegetarian by replacing the meat sauce with a tomato-based sauce. You can also add nutritional yeast to make it cheesy!
Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry – Quinoa is a great source of protein, fiber, and iron. You can make a stir-fry by adding broccoli, carrots, and snow peas and topping it with a soy sauce or vegetable sauce.
3 Weight Loss Friendly Dinners for Vegetarians
Vegetarian tacos – Adding a vegetarian twist to the classic taco dish is a great way to cut calories. Start by replacing the beef with beans, and try topping it with guacamole and salsa.
Vegetarian pizza – As we mentioned above, vegetarian pizza is a great way to cut calories. Plus, you can also add different vegetables to your pizza to add extra nutrients and fiber to your diet.
Vegetarian chili – Chili is a great low-calorie meal that’s quick and easy to make. Plus, you can make vegetarian chili by replacing the meat with beans, vegetables, and spices.
We hope you now understand the many benefits of becoming a vegetarian! If you’ve been considering making the switch to a plant-based diet, it’s important to do your research and