3 Tips for Beginners Going Vegetarian. The vegetarian diet generally involves abstaining from consuming fish, meat and poultry. Many people adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet for personal or spiritual reasons, ethical considerations and animal rights, especially as human consumption of animals continues to rise (4). Others choose to be vegetarian for ethical reasons, because animal production contributes to environmental pollution, aggravates climate change and necessitates large amounts of energy, water and natural resources (5). Still others are turned off by the thought of killing another living creature. Whatever the reason, vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle option that can provide protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients without the risks of consuming too much saturated fat, salt and sugar.
Before you go vegetarian it’s best to do some research on the different foods available and the nutritional information provided. The first thing to decide is what type of vegetarian you want to be. There are four broad categories – vegan, semi-vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian and egg vegetarian. Your decision should depend on whether your vegetarian lifestyle is restricted to fruits and vegetables, a few grains and beans, or whether animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products are eaten. There are also several options for those who want to go vegetarian for medical reasons or animal protection reasons.
Fruits and veggies are a vital part of a vegetarian diet. They provide a wide range of vitamins and nutrients, while being low in fat and most of the nutrients can be found in the form of fruits, vegetables or legumes. Fruits are usually high in vitamin A and vitamin C, and some even have high levels of beta carotene. Vegetables are higher in fiber and iron, and many have high levels of Vitamin A. Some greens are rich in vitamins B and E, while others are high in phytochemicals. Nuts, whole grains and seeds are high in protein, and other nuts are good sources of fatty acids.
While plant-based diets may seem to exclude certain animal-derived foods, there are many options for vegetarians and even those who want to go meat-free. If you are considering going dairy free, there are many brands that offer substitute products that still come from milk, cream or cheese. Pelvic muscles can be strengthened with soy protein. Those who are lactose intolerant can eat eggs, almond butter and soy milk substitutes. As a vegetarian, you can include soy milk in your breakfast cereal.
It’s important to take multivitamin supplements daily. These provide the necessary doses of important minerals and vitamins, and are easy to find at a local health food store or pharmacy. It’s also a good idea to get a vegetarian food diary to record the number of calories you’re consuming and the amount of these you’re getting from these foods. This is a great way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients that your diet needs.
It’s not difficult to follow a vegetarian lifestyle once you’ve become aware of the nutritional value of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, and you’ve committed yourself to a few weeks or months. Many people start out with vegetarianism on a long-term basis, gradually introducing meat into their diets as they get better nutrition and find new tastes for vegetarian dishes. If you want to go vegetarian as part of a cleansing diet or as part of an overall holistic program, it’s important to research what foods will meet your needs. Some people find it easier to stick with a vegetarian lifestyle until they’re stronger and feel more at ease about eating meat.
Some experts say that vegetarian diets can prevent certain types of cancer, because of the rich phytonutrients that some plants contain. However, when it comes to adults, it’s best to choose different foods than children. For one thing, a child’s digestive system may not be up to par with an adult’s. Even though a vegetarian diet may taste great to kids, their bodies may respond negatively to the lack of certain nutrients.
There are many benefits to going vegetarian, but you need to do some research to decide if it’s something you want to do long-term. While it’s true that some vegetarians have fewer incidences of certain cancers and other health problems associated with eating too much red meat and dairy products, others swear by the diet and say it has significantly improved their health. If you’re not sure how a vegetarian diet could benefit you, talk to your doctor, read up on the pros and cons, and consider trying it for a few weeks to see how you react. Whether or not you end up going vegetarian is up to you.