Since you've eaten meat and animal products your whole life, you might ponder, why switch to a vegetarian diet now? After all, you've lived your whole life eating eggs, hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs so why change?
Vegetarians are people who do not eat meat, poultry or fish. Some choose to eat this way because they are opposed to the slaughter and consumption of animals. Others choose this dietary strategy because they feel it is better for the environment.
There could be many reasons to switch. Start by looking in the mirror. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you look and feel good most of the time? How is your energy level? Are you blood cholesterol levels in check?
Some people switch to a vegetarian diet for its health benefits or because it has been recommended as part of their treatment for a medical condition. Circulatory issues, heart problems, high cholesterol and heart attacks are often linked to the regular consumption of dairy products, eggs and meat. A reduction in this consumption would lower your risk for these health problems.
The figures speak for themselves: A person who eats meat is four times as likely to suffer a heart attack as someone who is a vegetarian. The risk of a heart attack for vegans is even lower with only a one in 10 chance of having a heart attack against those of a person who eats meat.
Just about the only difficult part of making the switch to a vegetarian diet is knowing what foods you should be eating. A vegetarian must be careful to have a varied diet and must eat enough calories and nutrients to stay healthy. A diet based strictly on plants is not as rich in nutrients as a diet based on the combination of meat and plants. So, vegetarians must make sure that they cover some nutrients that might be a little "light" in a diet that is solely based on plants.
Vegetarians do not have to eat special combinations of foods daily to cover all their protein and nutrient needs - they just have to mix it up.
It's important to try new combinations of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. Foods rich in protein include legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu and peas. Vitamin C is available in citrus, broccoli and tomatoes. Spinach, chard and dried beans contain iron. Calcium is found in broccoli, kale, soymilk and almonds. Vegetarians should try to eat whole grain breads and cereals.
Still lost in transition? Diet-to-Go can help you get on the right track with our tasty low-fat vegetarian meals that will supply your body with all the necessary nutrients. Some their most popular meals include the Moroccan lentil stew and the black bean feta cheese wrap.
By letting Diet-to-Go do the cooking, you'll have a chance to try new taste treats like Claire's Quinoa salad. The ancient Incan grain quinoa has seen a rebirth in America where it's known as a superfood due to the protein and fiber it packs.
What are you waiting for? A healthy new vegetarian diet is waiting for you to try today.
Rebecca 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.