You may have heard that going meatless once or more a week could be beneficial to your health. In fact, numerous studies have found that vegetarians have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and are at a lower risk for some diseases. Nice! Becoming a vegetarian has a lot of upsides, but it isn’t for everyone. Before you decide to ditch meat for good, here are some things you should know.
Some benefits of being a vegetarian
There are so many benefits to cutting meat from your diet. Here are just a few.
- Live longer.
- Happy, healthy heart.
- Shed the pounds.
- Improve mood.
- Decrease illness.
- Save money.
- Eat the rainbow.
- Increase energy.
Some setbacks about becoming a vegetarian
Food is not created equally. Just because a food doesn’t have meat in it does not mean it is healthy. There are a lot of vegetarian food items that are just as processed as their meat-loving counterparts. Case in point: Oreos, Pop Tarts and Krispy Kreme Fruit Pies are all vegetarian, but they are not even close to being on par with vegetables. If you’re thinking of becoming a vegetarian, just remember that the point is eating a plant based diet. Plant based is not the same as heavily processed. Try to eat as much fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables as possible.
Consider supplementation. Vegetarians tend to eat a diet low in iron. Why? Because the iron found in meat is more readily accessible to humans than iron found in plants. Even if you still consume dairy and eggs, you could be shortchanged on iron intake. That said, most vegetarians opt to take a multivitamin daily to ensure they’re getting enough nutrients they may otherwise be missing.
It’s important to note, however, that it is completely possible to get all your recommended vitamins and minerals in a vegetarian diet without supplementation.
Confusion about what you can eat. There are many, many different types of vegetarians. Vegans, pescatarians, ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, raw foodists and flexitarians are all fairly common categories of non-meat eaters. Confused yet? You’re not alone. You just need to figure out what (if any) kinds of animal products you’re willing to let slip into your diet. For a more in-depth look at the different types of vegetarians, click here.
Learn to read labels. Additionally, when you become vegetarian, you have to also become an expert label reader. If you eat a lot of processed foods, you’ll have to be diligent about reading the ingredients on the packages of nearly everything you purchase. Chicken stock and bacon bites can very easily make their way into nearly anything these days. Get in the habit of reading the labels, and then reading them again to be sure.
If you’re just beginning to navigate the vegetarian waters, you don’t have to do it by yourself. Let me know, and I am more than happy to help you on your journey! All you have to do is contact me or post a comment below.