Why are you vegetarian and what do you eat? As a vegetarian of 24 years, I get asked these questions a lot. So I thought I would start with a little background...
I was raised vegetarian until I was 18 and decided to try meat. I ate EVERY kind of meat for 22 years, trying all styles, kinds, ways fixed because I wanted to know what the amazingness was all about! During this time I was a gym rat and lifted weights daily. I was told by trainers that I MUST eat meat to continue.
Flash forward to my 40th birthday - a conversation in the car with my self-proclaimed vegetarian daughter. She says, "Mom, you don't eat a lot of meat. Why not just give it up and save the environment? Did you know cows are causing greenhouse emissions?" She was 7. Her question and argument were completely valid so I returned to being a vegetarian starting from that day onward.
Whatever your reasons for looking into vegetarianism are - health, religion, social, environmental - there are a few things to keep in mind when determining what works best for you!
Health & Wellness
Being a vegetarian has many health benefits from reduced risk of heart disease to lower risks of cancer. Of course, this all depends on eating a "healthy" vegetarian diet (all lifestyles require a balanced, healthy diet). Because vegetarianism includes all of the fruits and vegetables with their power packing vitamin content as well as high fiber contents, being vegetarian can help you balance your body and supply you with all the antioxidants, vitamins and fiber your body needs to be healthier.
Why go vegetarian? If you are someone with a family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney stones, gallbladder issues - then going vegetarian might be one way to reduce your risks of developing complications related to any of these as well as possibly preventing them! www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian
How to transition to a vegetarian lifestyle
I am asked daily what do I eat besides salad and tofu - believe me when I say my diet is as varied as anyone's! For instance, most Ayurvedic recipes are vegetarian so I can easily incorporate Ayurveda into my life as a vegetarian. However, let's look at some of the things that people think of as prohibitive to a vegetarian lifestyle.
#1 Where do I get protein?
Loaded question. EVERYTHING you eat has protein. EVERYTHING. When I eat a diet rich in fruits, nuts, legumes, veggies and whole grains, I can easily meet the protein requirement of .36-.50 grams per pound of body weight. For instance, my basic protein needs are around 42-58 grams per day. Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fruit and granola or a smoothie (17+ grams of protein). Snack: nuts (approx. 5-7 g. protein). Lunch: quiche (approx. 12 grams), Afternoon snack: cookie! : ) (1-4 g if I added nuts would be more); Dinner: homemade pizza 2 slices (approx. 15 g). Net protein: 54 grams. If you struggle with gauging these numbers and need some help, check out some of these apps! dailyburn.com/life/tech/food-diary-app-tracking-macros/
#2 Where do I get iron?
It's not always how much iron you eat but how well you absorb it that matters. Pairing high iron foods with Vitamin C foods will help you absorb it better and if you avoid caffeine at the same time as you eat iron rich foods, it is absorbed more readily.
# 3 Can I build muscle or be an athlete as a vegetarian?
Well, yes and here is a list of at least 10 who are vegetarian or vegan! Some big names on there!
What do you eat?
This is probably the biggest question out there. If you have been a meat eater all of your life, then you think of all food in terms of containing meat. As a vegetarian, I think of all food as NOT having meat. See the difference? Lasagna, paella, meatloaf (yup, there are many vegetarian versions of this!), stir fry, teriyaki, Thai - anything you can imagine can be made WITHOUT the meat and you don't necessarily have to replace the meat with an alternative. My lasagna has veggies instead of meat. Simple replacement. Stir fry, teriyaki, Thai food all have more veggies and/or tofu or meat replacements such as Quorn brand foods. Look at your regular recipes and just take the meat out. There are literally millions of recipes!
Below are some of my favorite recipe books, websites, and YouTube channels to offer you some recipe choices and more information. Enjoy and as always, if you have any questions or simply want a recipe - just contact me - I am happy to help!
Liv's Healthy Lifestyle https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtuwIdM0Zx7xCiZSa_clRzw
Hot for Food https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCudzojQxnLAI7uQPVYJy_oQ
Vegan Crockpot http://amzn.to/2qk6N9g
Vegetarian Crockpot http://amzn.to/2oNClDu
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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