September is National Vegetarian Month, so let's take a look at five great reasons to become a vegetarian.
1) A vegetarian diet is low in fat.
Avoiding meat is one of the best and simplest ways to cut down your fat consumption. Animal protein sources also have large amounts of saturated fat. Eating fatty meat increases your chances of having a heart attack or developing cancer.
2) Being vegetarian draws more attention to the consumption of health-promoting foods.
The vegetarian diet allows for a generous supply of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It provides protection against chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A plant-based diet is rich in phytochemicals and other health-boosting substances.
3) A vegetarian diet includes more dry beans and lentils.
These take the place of meat and fish as the vegetarian's major source of protein. And there are so many different kinds of beans you can choose from – kidney, lima, pinto, cranberry, navy, Great Northern, garbanzo, soy beans, and black-eyed peas. These can be served with rice, added to soups, stews and salads or a variety of casseroles, and made into different ethnic dishes. Beans also add a significant amount of beneficial fiber to the diet.
4) A vegetarian diet can lead to a significant reduction in the risk for cancer.
A plant-based diet is rich in cancer-fighting substances called phytochemicals. Studies have shown a definite reduction in certain types of cancers such as breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and lung cancers by following a plant-based diet.
5) Vegetarians have lower blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.
Studies have shown that vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. When meat is added to a vegetarian diet, blood pressure rises. Transversely, you can lower your blood cholesterol levels by replacing animal protein with plant protein.
Don’t forget that vegetarian diets are not only good for overall health, but they are also friendly to our environment and our wallet.
Not sure how to get started on a vegetarian diet?
Try Diet-to-Go’s low-fat vegetarian plan to get you on the right track. We'll give you a five-week menu of vegetarian breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We promise you'll be amazed at the delicious food... and that you won't miss meat with your meals.
Rebecca Mohning is a Registered Dietitian and an Exercise Physiologist who believes that we can change our metabolism and achieve optimal health through proper nutrition and regular exercise. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's of Science in Dietetics from Iowa State University. She is a certified Personal Trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine. She specializes in weight management, performance nutrition, and eating disorders.