By: Sanjana Umarale
Being a vegetarian is all about adopting a lifestyle that positively affects the way you feel. Whether it’s for religious reasons, animal-welfare concerns, or in the spirit of healthy eating, vegetarianism has the power to boost both your health and happiness. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 23 million Americans follow a vegetarian-based diet! It’s been proven that vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. Oftentimes this is due to the cholesterol and saturated fat that comes from a heavy meat diet. The secret to successful vegetarianism is to eat a wide variety of foods — think fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, legumes…etc.
Whether you make the change overnight, or gradually over a period of months, remember that vegetarianism is about balance, nutrition, and doing what’s best for you!
Starting off right
When making the change, it’s important to think about vegetarian substitutes for nutrients that largely come from meat, poultry, and fish
Regarding Protein– try beans, lentils, tofu, and chickpeas, as well as increasing your intake of greens and whole grain bread/ pasta
Regarding Iron– try spinach, dried fruits, cashews, and tomatoes, and look for iron-fortified cereal or oatmeal for breakfast
Regarding Calcium– increase your intake of dairy products, and try broccoli, kale, and mustard greens
Regarding Omega-3– Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in fish and are required for our bodies. Thus as a substitute, try flaxseed, soybeans, and walnuts.
Play around and experiment with these ingredients to find tasty new dishes! Happy eating!