The second week of September is National Vegetarian Awareness Week! With more restaurants offering vegetarian menu options, supermarkets carrying more vegetarian products, and farmer’s markets popping up left and right, now is a great time to explore leading a more plant based lifestyle.
There is a whole host of health benefits that you can gain by incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods into your lifestyle. Below you will find some helpful information about vegetarianism and how you can incorporate it into your life:
- The term vegetarian used to be simple. It meant someone who did not eat meat. But a growing popularity in vegetarianism has lead to more terminology to define different types of plant-based living. Vegans are considered the most extreme, omitting all animal products from their diets as well as their lifestyle, including not wearing leather, wool, and silk. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diets, while lacto-ovo vegetarians consume both eggs and dairy products. Pesco-Vegetarians include fish in their diets.
- Looking for a vegetarian restaurant? Check out this guide: www.vegguide.org This website shows a listing of vegetarian restaurants near you with descriptions included and a consumer star rating. If you go to a non-vegetarian restaurant, you could request the meat be left out of a dish that usually has meat and ask for beans to be substituted instead (example, hold the chicken in the salad and add black beans). However many times products such as beans and soups are cooked in chicken or beef broth, so be aware of this if you are a strict vegetarian.
- Vegetarianism also plays a part in preserving the environment and “going green”. It actually makes a greater impact on the environment to go meatless once a week, than it does to drive a hybrid vehicle! This is because 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry due to methane emission from animals, deforestation for land to raise animals or grow their food, and the fertilizers used to grow animal feed. Supporting farmers markets also helps local businesses and promotes more sustainable living.
- A good tip to try a new fruit or vegetable is to look at what is in season to reap the benefits of food at its freshest. Luckily due to a USDA Supplemental Nutrition Education Program, “Just Say Yes to Fruits and Veggies”, you can view easy recipes with the nutritional analysis of each on this site: http://www.jsyfruitveggies.org/Recipes/Seasonal.html .
National Vegetarian Awareness Week is the opportunity to discover new ways to live a plant-based lifestyle and discover new foods that contribute to good health. Take advantage of each tip discussed and see how you can incorporate vegetarianism into your day-to-day life.
What will you do this week to celebrate National Vegetarian Awareness Week?