I have been vegetarian for almost 11 years now. Back in 2006, I decided to give a vegetarian diet a chance. I decided I would go vegetarian for one month and then assess how I felt during that month and how easy or difficult it was to be vegetarian. I was surprised to find out how easy a transition it was to a vegetarian diet. I really didn’t have to make huge changes to my meal planning. And I found myself feeling healthier and in better shape. Here are a few reasons why changing to a vegetarian diet is a positive thing and not as difficult as you may think.
Research shows that a vegetarian diet can have many positive benefits, including lower body mass index (BMI), lower HDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. In addition, vegetarian diets can decrease the incidents of cancer. A 2014 study of nearly 78,000 participants published in the Journal of American Medical Association, stated that vegetarians had a significantly lower risk of colorectal cancer, which is the 2nd leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Finally and possibly most exciting, is research by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn has shown that vegetarian diets can reverse coronary artery disease! Personally, I felt healthier and more energized when I switched to a vegetarian diet. My cholesterol decreased and I lost some unwanted weight while still being able to maintain my muscle mass.
Tons of meat alternatives
A common misconception about a vegetarian diet is that all you eat is a salad or that you have a protein deficiency. Dispelling these myths are brands such as Gardein, Tofurky, Gardenburger and Beyond Meat. Vegetarians can choose from many burger types to a wide variety of mock meats, chicken and fish. Eaten alone or as part of a recipe, these plant-based meat alternatives are delicious and satisfying. In addition, many of these meat alternatives are an excellent source of protein. For example, 1 Tofurky Italian sausage has 30 grams of protein!! These mock meat products are really amazing, I quickly learned that I didn’t need meat products to have some of my favorite meals. In addition to mock meats, plant-based alternatives to cheese, milk and butter are available.
Much more common
In the United States, many major supermarket retailers have begun stocking vegetarian and vegan items. Many of the meat alternatives listed above can be found in grocery stores such as Safeway, wholesalers like Costco and even Target! Couple these with the many health food stores across the US and finding vegetarian food items is pretty easy. Not very skilled in the kitchen? No problem. Many restaurants have vegetarian options already on their menu and if not, vegetarian diets are so common now that servers usually have options in mind that chefs can prepare. In addition, there are numerous vegetarian cookbooks, blogs and recipes available on the internet. From simple banana nut muffins to elaborate Thanksgiving tofurkey recipes, there is no limit to the vegetarian recipes out there. I found these vegetarian websites and blogs extremely helpful and knowing there were vegetarian options/substitutes for almost any meat dish made sticking to a vegetarian diet much easier.
According to the documentary Cowspiracy, animal agriculture, the raising of livestock for consumption, is the driving force behind climate change and environmental destruction. The amount of water and land required to raise livestock is truly shocking. Rainforests are cleared so animals can graze and trillions of gallons of water are used annually for livestock. An alarming statistic mentioned is that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of beef. In addition to nutritional needs, livestock produces billions of tons of waste and gas emissions. These waste products have destructive effects on the world’s climate and environment. I really hadn’t thought about this aspect of being vegetarian when I first tried it out. But these statistics on animal agriculture are astonishing and knowing that there’s an enormous amount of food alternatives to eating meat, makes me determined to remain vegetarian. However, there must be some sound principles to solve these environmental miseries experienced worldwide.
As you can see, a vegetarian diet is good for you and it’s easy to stick to one. I hope you will give a vegetarian diet a chance, I’m extremely happy that I did.