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Go Vegetarian Without Going Hungry
Fill Up On Delicious Vegetarian Fare
With the growing trend towards eating healthy, you’ve probably considered going vegetarian. Maybe you’ve added more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet and increased the number of salads you eat per day. But, the idea that becoming a vegetarian is akin to living on rabbit food stopped you.
Fret not. The good news is that you can easily go vegetarian without going hungry. You’ll be surprised at how many delicious and satisfying foods you can eat on a meatless diet. There is a caveat, however. You’ll need to get enough of specific nutrients to replace the protein and iron found in a meat-eater’s diet.
With some simple-to-follow tips and techniques, you’ll be a practicing vegetarian before you know it and your family will think you’ve been taking culinary classed because your meals are so delicious.
Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
What is a Vegetarian?
There are different categories of vegetarians. Strict vegetarians, or vegans, eat no meat or animal products whatsoever, including fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet is the most restrictive of all and if that’s what you want to do – it might be easier if you start with a less restrictive vegetarian diet and gradually progress to veganism as you discover new recipes and foods that are in compliance with the diet.
Ovovegetarians do not eat meat, fish or milk products, but they will include eggs in their diets. Since eggs are high in protein and low in fats, including eggs makes it much easier to get all the nutrients you need in a vegetarian diet.
Lactovegetarians nix all meats and eggs, but they consume milk and other dairy products. Ovolactovegetarians include both eggs and dairy products but do not eat meat, fish or poultry. For the most part, ovolactovegetarians get all the nutrients needed from their diets.
Beat Fat by Eating Flavorful Foods
Vegetarian Weight Loss
Many people become vegetarians for one reason – to lose weight. Losing weight is a common side effect of most vegetarian diets, but if you go hog wild on butter, cheeses and other high-fat vegetarian foods, you could gain weight. In general, however, a plant-based diet is likely to help you lose weight in addition to reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Most of the weight loss you experience will be in the first few months of your diet as you begin to eat foods lower in calories but higher in fiber. The increased fiber content helps you feel full longer after you eat, meaning you’re likely to eat less. After your weight loss stabilizes, you’ll probably stay at the same weight as long as you don’t start eating meat again.
Cooking High Protein Vegetarian Meals
Healthy Vegetarian Protein Sources
Unless you’re an athlete or you’re involved in strenuous physical exercise daily, you probably won’t need as much protein as you were getting when you ate meat. Just 1-cup of oatmeal, made with 1-cup of soymilk and a bagel, provides 22 grams of protein. That’s a perfectly healthy start to a vegetarian day.
Other foods high in plant-based protein include tofu with 11g of protein in a 5 ounce serving, a cup of brown rice with 5g, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with 8g, a scant cup or soy yogurt has 6g and 1 cup of cooked lentils offers a whopping 18g of protein.
Textured vegetable protein is used to make meat-free food products that substitute for their animal-based counterparts. You can eat veggie dogs and veggies burgers, both of which offer more protein per serving than meat. The best news is that they don’t have saturated animal fats.
Get the Nutrients Your Body Needs
What About Nutritional Deficiencies?
The truth is that you could suffer from a vitamin or mineral deficiency if you don’t pay special attention to your new vegetarian diet or add certain supplements to your diet.
The biggest risk for deficiency from a vegetarian diet comes from not getting enough iodine, vitamins B12, A, D and riboflavin and not getting enough of specific minerals, including zinc, iron and calcium. Supplementing your diet with these nutrients will keep you healthy and in top shape. Your muscles and cells will suffer if you don’t get enough protein, but there are many sources of plant protein available.
Cooking vegetarian need not break the bank. Backed mac and cheese, BBQ tofu sandwiches, black bean burgers, cheese and spinach stuffed portobellos, cheese and spinach enchiladas, black bean quesadillas, grilled eggplant, and veggie pizza are just a few of thousands of budget vegetarian meals that will fill you up without weighing you down.
If weight loss is your goal, include tasty low-cal recipes like butternut squash soup, chopped cauliflower salad, fruity popsicles, golden corn soup, broccoli soufflé, wild rice pilaf and roasted veggies with delicious garlic-lemon sauce. Stick to whole wheat breads and pass up processed pastries, donuts and sweets that can undermine your weight loss.
Eating Out When You’re a Vegetarian
Careful selection of restaurants and a few questions will ensure that you have something on your plate when you friends and associates are pigging out on animal flesh. If you don’t see vegetarian items on the menu, ask the waiter if the chef can substitute a veggie burger for meat patty in your sandwich. Otherwise, dine on a baked potato topped with cheese and sour cream and order a dinner salad with dressing on the side. More and more restaurants and fast food eateries are offering vegetarian and vegan fare menu items to their patrons, so eating out is getting easier all the time.