As a vegetarian, you will completely eliminate meat from your diet. As a result, you will have to figure out new ways to get all the nutrients you need on a regular basis and learn to make appropriate substitutions so you can still enjoy your favorite dishes.
The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you may think to eat a delicious and well-balanced vegetarian diet. Here are 10 healthy eating tips for vegetarians.
Tip #1 – Start By Making Small Changes
Start with one vegetarian day per week, such as the popular Meatless Monday, and then build up from there. Most dishes can easily be made into vegetarian dishes. For example, if pizza is one of your favorite foods you can remove the meat and pile on as many vegetables as you want. The key is to start small so you won’t overwhelm yourself. If you try to do too much too soon you will be less likely to stick with this new way of eating.
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Tip #2 – Make Sure You Get Plenty Of Protein
When you eliminate meat from your diet, you are also eliminating one of the best sources of protein. However, you can easily meet your protein needs by eating a variety of different plant foods. Good sources of protein for vegetarians include eggs, tofu, tempeh, soy products, sun-dried tomatoes, soybean sprouts, beans, lentil sprouts, and baby lima beans.
Tip #3 – Make Sure You Get Plenty Of Calcium
A diet void of calcium can lead to all sorts of health issues. As a vegetarian, you need to take extra care to ensure you get plenty of calcium in your diet. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian you can get calcium from dairy products.
If on the other hand you do not consume dairy products you can get your calcium from sources such as breakfast cereals that have been calcium fortified, dark green vegetables such as turnip greens and bok choy and calcium fortified soymilk.
Tip #4 – Don’t Be Afraid To Have A Cookout
As a new vegetarian, you may think you can’t enjoy a cookout with the family due to limited food options. This is completely false. As a vegetarian you can enjoy a cookout just like the rest of us. The key is to plan ahead. While you can’t have a grilled chicken breast or slab of ribs, you can enjoy soy burgers, soy hot dogs, fruit kabobs, and grilled veggies.
Tip #5 – Keep Nuts Around
Nuts make the perfect vegetarian snack. Just make sure you choose the unsalted version. They taste great and provide a ton of health benefits. Besides snacking on nuts, they can also be used in salads and other main dishes. Instead of using cheese and meat on your salad, try using a handful of almonds or walnuts.
Tip #6 – Fill Up On Beans & Peas
Beans and peas are two foods that have a very high nutritional value. Because of this, it is recommended vegetarians and non-vegetarians, consume both foods on a regular basis. You can have a three-bean salad, pea soup or vegetarian chili.
Tip #7 – Try A Variety Of Veggie Versions
You would be surprised what you can do with vegetables. Many vegetarian meals look and taste just as good, if not better, than the non-vegetarian option. The big difference however is they are a lot healthier for you.
For breakfast, try soy sausage patties. For dinner, you can try chickpea patties. They are low in saturated fat and contain little to no cholesterol.
Tip #8 – Learn How To Make Substitutions At Your Favorite Restaurant
Just because you are a vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t go out to your favorite restaurant and enjoy a meal. The key is learning how to make the right substitutions. Most restaurants will gladly make vegetarian modifications for their guests. All you have to do is ask. If you live in a metropolitan area, there are usually plenty of vegan cafes where the entire menu is meatless.
You can substitute sauces and meat items for things such as vegetables, beans, or tofu. Before heading out to a restaurant go online and do a little research. Figure out what can easily be substituted for meat items. This will make the ordering process a lot easier.
Tip #9 – Get Plenty Of Vitamin B12
A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and vitamin B12 can only be naturally found in animal products. Because of this, you will need to find new ways to get this very important nutrient. There are many B12 fortified foods, including non-dairy milks, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast. Supplements are also available; just make sure the one you choose does not contain any animal byproducts.
Tip #10 – Find A Vegetarian Pattern That Works For You
No two vegetarians are alike. You have to find a diet plan that works best for you. To find a vegetarian pattern that will work best for you, visit www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.
Changing over to a vegetarian diet is not easy. That’s why it is so important you take your time. Follow the 10 tips listed above and your transition will be a lot smoother.