Did you know that October was National Vegetarian Awareness Month? Although October is nearing its end, it’s still the perfect time to learn more about what it means to be a vegetarian – and if it would fit your lifestyle!
Have you ever considered going vegetarian for a day, a week, or a month? Many people make the switch to a vegetarian diet because of the potential health benefits as vegetarian diets are known to have lower incidence of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diet-related cancers and type 2 diabetes.
The basis of a vegetarian diet is choosing more grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and some other non-animal based foods with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. These foods typically chosen are known to have more antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals and carotenoids, all of which are shown to have beneficial effects on your health.
Types of Vegetarians
You may think that being vegetarian means you simply don’t eat meat, but there are actually different types of vegetarianism based on how strictly the diet is in eliminating meat.
- Pescatarians only eat fish and seafood (semi-vegetarian).
- Pollotarians only eat poultry – no meat (semi-vegetarian).
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians are the most common type of vegetarians. They do not eat any meat, poultry, or fish but do consume dairy (lacto) and eggs (ovo).
- Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy. They do eat eggs.
- Vegans do not eat any form of meat or any animal by-products, including honey, beeswax, or gelatin. They also don’t purchase or support products such as silk, leather or wool.
It’s important to note that depending on what type of vegetarian you may choose to be, you may need to pay special attention to your intake of certain nutrients. Iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12 are some of the vitamins/minerals that are found mostly in various animal products. Pay special attention to finding these nutrients in other food sources such as fortified grain products and plant foods.
4 Vegetarian Meals to Try Today
- Cook up vegetarian chili with a variety of beans such as kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. Pair it with brown rice for a complete protein.
- Make your own lentil soup! Use lentils as the protein base and add tomatoes, carrots, onions and simmer in vegetable broth.
- Add chickpeas to your salad for a delicious twist to your traditional salad.
- Switch up your “burger” by making it with chickpeas! Check out my recipe for a delicious, vegetarian patty.
Although a vegetarian way of eating isn’t for everyone, it can be beneficial to your health to try to include a little vegetarianism into your life. Challenge yourself to have one or two days a week of vegetarian meals, think “Meatless Mondays”. You can use this day as a way to explore new recipes or to add a twist to your favorite meat dishes!
Your Turn to Take Action: What type of vegetarian dishes will you make this week? Let me know in the comments below!