Vegetarians Have An Amazing Variety of Foods to Eat
What is a vegetarian diet?
This varies depending on the type of vegetarian you are. If you consider yourself a total vegetarian, your diet would include only food that comes from plants. You would eat fruits vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. If you consider yourself a lacto-vegetarian you would eat all of the above plus cheese and other dairy products. Those who are ovo-lacto-vegetarians will add eggs to their list of edible foods. If you are a semi-vegetarian you won't eat red meat, but you might eat chicken or fish and dairy products and eggs. As you can see, there are varying levels of vegetarianism to fit your preference and lifestyle.
What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
Most vegetarian diets are lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. This is mostly because of the high amounts of fat and cholesterol found in animal products. Cholesterol is not produced by any plants; it is only produced by animals. Vegetarian diets have been tied to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
Can you get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet?
You can certainly get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet. You just need to know where to look for these essential nutrients.
What are the nutrients you need for a healthy diet?
Protein: High levels of protein can be found in black beans, chick peas, tofu, nuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, avocado, quinoa, soy and brown rice.
Essential Amino Acids: You can find these is quinoa (eaten like rice), soybeans (in soy milk or tofu), buckwheat, hemp seeds or amaranth.
Iron: Although iron is harder for vegetarians to find, you get can find it in dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer's yeast and dried fruits.
Vitamin B-12: This Vitamin is only found naturally in animal products, so Vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B-12. You can find it in some fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, as well as vitamin supplements.
Vitamin D: This comes from the sun, not from food.
Calcium: The calcium provided by plants absorbs better than calcium provided by animal products. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products, are good sources of calcium from plants.
Zinc: Grains, nuts and legumes contain good amounts of zinc.
What meal plans are recommended?
One with a wide variety of foods and enough calories to meet your energy needs. Minimize sweets and fatty foods because they are low in nutrients & high in calories. Choose whole or unrefined grain products, or use fortified or enriched cereal products. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially foods that contain good amounts of vitamins A and C. Use fat-free/nonfat and low-fat varieties of milk or dairy products. Limit your egg intake because they are high in cholesterol.