Following a vegetarian diet is good for your health and also better for the environment, according to Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the British government on the economics of climate change. You can still enjoy a wide range of foods and recent products that imitate the taste and texture of real meat to help you make the conversion without missing your favorites. Consider making the leap to a vegetarian diet.
Types of Vegetarian Diets
All vegetarians refuse to eat meat, though there are some variations to this idea. For example, some people continue to eat fish and other seafood products, but they still consider themselves vegetarians. Vegans eschew all types of animal products, including milk, eggs, honey and any product that contains those ingredients. Many vegetarians fall somewhere in the middle, such as lacto-vegetarians, who don’t eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs, but do allow dairy products, or ovo-lacto-vegetarians, who also eat eggs.
Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
A healthy vegetarian diet often results in lower cholesterol levels, due to the reduced intake of saturated fats. It can also cause weight loss or make weight maintenance easier due to reduced calories. Furthermore, The Cancer Project reports that those who avoid eating meat reduce their risk of cancer.
Losing Weight as a Vegetarian
Though vegetarians tend to have lower weight than meat eaters, it is possible to weigh too much as a vegetarian. Pizza, macaroni and cheese, potato chips, fried foods and candy, for example, are vegetarian foods, but they are also high in fat and calories. To lose weight as a vegetarian, you’ll have to cut back on the calories that you eat and incorporate an exercise program. Measure out portion sizes and increase the amount of low-calorie fruits and vegetables that you eat on a daily basis. A calorie tracker can help you keep track of this.
Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
Some people do well by going “cold turkey” and immediately eliminating all meat products. You don’t have to do it this way. You can start by making a few of your meals throughout the week vegetarian until you feel confident that you have enough recipes under your belt to stay satisfied without meat. You can also eliminate red meat, while still eating chicken and fish, and then eliminate those foods. Consider giving vegetarianism a try as a ovo-lacto-vegetarian before deciding to become vegan.
If you are vegan, you may not be getting enough vitamin B12, which is only present in animal products. Talk to your doctor about your dietary choices. She’ll run tests to see if you need a supplement.