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Go Vegetarian Without Going Hungry

Updated on April 24, 2013

Fill Up On Delicious Vegetarian Fare

Eating vegetarian doesn't have to be dull or boring.
Eating vegetarian doesn't have to be dull or boring. | Source


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.

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.

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.

Vegetarian Cooking


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.

Do You Have Any Favorite Vegetarian Foods?

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    • MichaelMoodyFit profile image

      Michael Moody Fitness 8 months ago from 900 N. North Branch St., Chicago, IL 60642

      Protein can be a challenge for vegetarians but you certainly have touched on several viable options. Personally, I've substituted the tofu, rice, and other grain options for less inflammatory (and less blood sugar level spiking) options like nuts and seeds. www.michaelmoodyfitness.com

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Howard....Found you while cruising the highways of HP. This is a very interesting and informational read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      My experience may be a little different in terms of how & why so many individuals become vegetarians. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps this has happened to numerous people.

      It wasn't that I ever made a conscious, strict & deliberate shift in my eating habits or tastes by making a sudden & firm decision. My food plan took on a life of it's own and has slowly evolved to what it currently is.

      It all started when I chose to eliminate almost all Red meats from my diet. I one day realized I was consuming far too much (because it was my husband's favorite)....and I've never been that fond of it in the first place. What woke me up was a weight gain the first year Jim & I were married...(we were both in our 50's at the time). I deduced it was the meat, so OFF my menu it went. I slowly lost whatever I had gained. Then, because of an educational video about how livestock are treated and the abuse involved in order for them to wind up on our dinner tables, pushed me on further.

      The ultimate result is, I actually love the healthier meatless foods & I seriously "FEEL" better. That's a plus. I'm not extreme about it....I still love chicken & if I'm a dinner guest, I simply appreciate and eat what my hostess has prepared. Overall though, I'm happy for the evolution in my diet.

      Thanks for sharing with your readers. ...UP++ pinned & tweeted. Peace, Paula

    • Alex Longsword profile image

      Alex Longsword 4 years ago from Nicaragua

      Interesting hub, I want to be vegetarian but my limitations are that don't have enough vegetarian recipes and ingredients that like the most are to expensive in supermarkets. My other limitation is that I want to gain weight. I know that going vegetarian will give me a better health in the future.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I don't eat red meat but I do eat fish and chicken so I'm not in any category. Great Hub and I'm a fan.

    • Alma Cabase profile image

      Alma Cabase 4 years ago from Philippines

      Hi!

      I salute those who can survive by eating only vegetables. This kind of diet will greatly weaken you if not done accordingly. A professional dietitian's supervision if you are really serious about following this challenging way of living.

      Thank you for sharing this awesome hub!

      Regards,

      Alma

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great discussion. I like how you point out the different types and some of the pros and cons. It is certainly a lifestyle choice, and with any choice, it is best to be informed so that you can stay healthy. Good stuff here :) Voted up.

    • HowardBThiname profile image
      Author

      HowardBThiname 4 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks JenineMiana! Vegetarian meals are also my favorites.

    • profile image

      JenineMiana 4 years ago

      Good information! I love veggie meals!

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