It seems there are more people than ever, especially with my American buddies who want to join the trend of going “meat free”. The health benefits of having a healthy and well-balanced vegetarian or even vegan lifestyle are undeniable. A well done, nutritious, plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and strokes, as well as having a longer life expectancy. But the key here isn’t to emphasise “a well done, nutritious, plant- based diet”.
People automatically associate Vegetarian and Vegan diet with health, but the reality is, eliminating meat from your diet is not a ticket to good health, how could it be? In fact, it’s just as easy to be an unhealthy Vegetarian as it is to be an unhealthy meat eater.
The real benefits are seen when meat or dairy are replaced with more Fruits, Vegetables, Beans, Whole Soy, and nutritiously dense foods.
So now I would like to share with you the 5 Vegetarian mistakes and how to avoid them!
1. You’re a snack snack snackerrrr but on the wrong snacks! –
I quite often come across vegetarians- who eliminate meat from the diet (obviously) but instead fill up on chips, cookies and chocolate bars due to the fact that they don’t know what else to eat. The problem is, processed snacks are worthless fuel that will just pack on the pounds as it will not fill you up, and put you at a risk for chronic health conditions.
Solution- If you enjoy snacking often, do not eat junk food! Instead select more healthy foods such as, apples, carrots, and almonds etc.
2. Your Diet Looks the Same Every Day- Just think every single morning having to wake up and wear the exact same clothing for the rest of your life, Sounds like a life sentence to me! So why do that with your food?
Solution- The harm of eating the same old, same old means you are missing out on a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, which puts you at risk of nutrient deficiencies or going back to your meat eating days if you are a newbie. Getting variety in your diet is key when it comes to staying on a healthy track. Focus on getting adequate:-
PROTIEN such as (nuts, seeds, legumes and tofu)
CALCIUM (dark leafy greens, kale and broccoli)
IRON (dried legumes and lentils and soybeans)
Vitamin D (fruits, vegetables, fish and cod liver oil)
3. You’re misinformed about protein- there is a misconception when it comes to protein, that you can only get “Real” protein from steak and chicken.
Solution- Sorry, your protein bubbles are going to be popped. Although your diet no longer consists of protein from sources that moo and cluck, the protein from foods that make no sound at all can be just as good. Good sources of plant-based protein include Lentils, whole soy, quinoa, black or red kidney beans, chickpeas and peas
4. My Family all eat meat so I just eat the side dishes- Explain to your family that going veggie doesn’t mean you’re just not eating meat, it means you replace the meat with other protein rich foods. Keep veggie or soy burgers (veggie related foods) in the freezer so you can heat them up quickly and have them with side dishes, you can even offer to cook them. Do what ever it takes but make sure you get it on the plate.
5. Dinner time Pasta, Potatoes and Rice syndrome- Now I am not saying these foods listed are not healthy as they are even more so if you choose brown rice and wholegrain pasta. But the thing is they all belong to the same food group- GRAINS
Solution: To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need, you must eat foods from at least three food groups at every meal think of it like grains, vegetables, beans or other protein. Try pasta with some lentils (protein) tomato sauce, or a stir fry with brown rice, veggies and tofu (Protein)