If you are tired of high cholesterol and the possibility of future heart disease then you really should consider adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Living a vegetarian lifestyle not only can help lower your cholesterol and saturated fat intake, but it also can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Don’t become one of the already 8.3% of children and adults in the United Sates that have already been diagnosed with diabetes. Instead, use these tips to start eating as a vegetarian now so you can have a healthier future.
First you need to understand what being a vegetarian is. Most vegetarian just cut meat out of their diets, while some still eat fish. Some will eat eggs, some won’t. If you cut out all animal-based foods (that includes meats and dairy) then you are a vegan. It is important to know that you can get that nutrients you need in your daily diet, like calcium and protein, from plant based foods. This means you don’t have to have animal based foods in order to be healthy. It is really up to you what kind of vegetarian you want to be though. If you prefer keeping dairy in your diet, then that is definitely up to you!
How To Get Vegetarian Protein
So where will you get your protein from if you’re a vegetarian?
Protein is one of the things that gives us our energy. Many people believe they need a bunch of protein each day, when really you only need about the equivalent of 3 decks of cards worth, for the entire day. One steak for a lot of people is sometimes double that amount!
Get your daily protein from nuts, beans, legumes and rice. Pick wild rice or brown rice instead of bleached white rice. In fact, a meal of black beans and rice is a great source of balanced proteins. Soy is another protein substitute. Soy is found in many meatless burgers, nuggets and other items.
Vegetarian Sushi Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/loozrboy/4421016539
Get creative in the kitchen. One of the things that most people find difficult when changing to a vegetarian diet is leaving their favorite meals behind. But you don’t have to do that. Love lasagna? Make it a vegetarian one using artichokes and spinach. Broccoli is even great on lasagna. Use Alfredo instead of marinara. If you are cutting out dairy you can use dairy-free cheese. If you are still eating eggs you can make delicious veggie omelets with mushrooms, green peppers, onions and more.
Vegetarian Lasagna photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/lablasco/6923514203
If you aren’t eating dairy you can get your calcium from broccoli, orange juice and even some nuts. You will want to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet of all the nutrients you need, including vitamins A, B, C, D and protein, calcium, zinc and iron. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and include as many other food items in your diet as you can to keep from feeling like you aren’t getting enough variety. Grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and soy products will become your standards.
The best part of living a vegetarian lifestyle is that you can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want and you won’t have to worry about your calorie counting or how much fat you are taking in. It’s a guilt free way to eat and to live! And even if you aren’t ready to go strictly meat free, just a few meat free days a week can make a huge difference in your health and energy.