Vegetarianism – an old favorite with steadily growing popularity. Everything you need to know about your meat-free diet.
Vegetarianism is not just a modern, hip health trend or a way to live out your ethical ideals, but also an enormous, successful dietary movement – that can help you to improve your health and well-being. Everyone – whether you’re a student, busy manager or someone raising a family – can benefit from going vegetarian.
The Vegetarian Diet - More than just a trend
|“Vegetarian meat substitutes are all healthy”||Only partially: |
A vegetarian diet can be very healthy if you do not fall into the traps of the food industry—as with any diet. Due to the growing interest in vegan and vegetarian diets, more and more meat alternatives are appearing in supermarkets. Before buying these, you should take a look at the ingredient list. Many of these “healthy” meat substitutes are loaded with artificial ingredients.
|“Vegetarians only eat vegetables”||Wrong: |
The variety of food options for vegetarians and vegans has increased tremendously in recent years. Due to the growing popularity of meatless diets, there are also numerous blogs and inspiration platforms. This means vegetarian nutrition is anything but boring or bland.
|“Going vegetarian will make you lose weight fast “||Wrong: |
While there are studies that show that vegetarians are on average less likely to be overweight than meat-eaters, that is probably largely because your average vegetarian eats more consciously and healthier. Most of the time, going vegetarian brings about more nutritional awareness and thus a more holistic, healthy lifestyle. The type of diet you follow (e.g. vegetarian, vegan) is one factor for weight loss, other – equally important – factors include daily exercise, healthy eating habits, and the avoidance of unhealthy snacks and alcohol. If you are not mindful, your vegetarian diet can quickly become just as unhealthy and fattening as a “normal” diet – because there is no shortage of unhealthy meat substitutes and vegetarian junk foods.
Types of vegetarian diets
There’s more than one way to be a vegetarian. To shed some light on the different types of vegetarian diets, here’s an overview of which foods each type allows and forbids.
|Lacto vegetarian||Allowed: milk and dairy products, Forbidden: meat, fish, foods derived from meat/fish|
|Ovo vegetarian||Allowed: eggs and egg products Forbidden: meat, fish, foods derived from meat/fish|
|Ovo-Lacto vegetarian||Allowed: eggs, milk and dairy products, Forbidden: meat, fish, foods derived from meat/fish|
|Pescetarien||Allowed: fish and fish products Forbidden: meat, foods derived from meat|
|Flexitarian||Mainly meat-free foods, but meat or fish are allowed occasionally|
“The vegetarian diet is suitable for every preference”
A proper vegetarian diet - the basics
Have you have been won over by the benefits of vegetarianism, and are personally motivated to make the diet change? Or are you just curious and in the mood for a nutrition experiment? To get the full benefits of a balanced vegetarian diet, you should know the following basics:
- Drink a lot of water – You should drink a minimum of 2 liters of liquid throughout the day. The best choices: water or unsweetened tea.
- A colorful plate – Try to eat a minimum of 500 grams of vegetables a day, and the more colorful the better. Vegetables provide you with lots of fiber to boost your digestion.
- Fruits provide important vitamins! – However, if you want to lose weight, you’d better pay attention to the fructose amounts in each fruit. Some types of fruit are total sugar bombs.
- Sufficient protein intake – Be sure to get enough good protein. The best choices: eggs, dairy products, and legumes.
- Distinguish between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Fat is an important component of any diet – not to mention fat adds flavor to your meals. Avocados and nuts are great sources of fat that fit easily into any diet. Although if you want to lose weight, you should be careful: fat provides about 9 kilocalories per gram.
Top 3 benefits of a vegetarian diet
- It’s environmentally and ecologically friendlier than the traditional diet: Feeding livestock such as chickens and cattle requires an enormous amount of animal feed. This feed is mostly cultivated in rainforest regions, where vast areas of forest get cut down for livestock feed every year – at the expense of irreplaceable trees and wildlife.
- A vegetarian diet is healthier than a traditional diet: Carcinoma is an umbrella term for various types of cancer. With a vegetarian diet, fewer carcinomas develop in your gastrointestinal tract due to the absence of meat – which means you reduce your risk of getting cancer.
- Vegetarians live longer than meat eaters: Studies have proven that vegetarians’ life expectancies are higher than those of meat eaters. However, the diet should be as balanced and unprocessed as possible
Most common mistakes when going vegetarian
Especially beginners – who rashly plunge into a vegetarian diet without accurate research or understanding of the subject—make these mistakes. The following tips will help you to avoid the most common mistakes:
- Mistake 1: you eat bland, boring meals
Start looking around at the supermarket. Spicing up vegetables is not difficult. Take advantage of the variety of recipes on the internet and look for vegetarian alternatives to your favorite products. But try not to fall into the trap of pre-packaged meals – because the vegetarian cheeseburger is often just as unhealthy as the beef version.
- Mistake 2: you eat too many carbs to substitute for meat products.
Do not start filling up on bread and pasta just because you have eliminated the meat from your diet. Try other satisfying alternatives – have you ever tasted tofu?
- Mistake 3: You don’t get enough iron in your diet
Most of us get the lion’s share of our daily iron from meat. For many of us, this happens without even thinking about it. However, going vegetarian means you lose an important iron source – so you should be sure to find suitable plant-based sources. Have your iron levels checked by your doctor if you have are any uncertainties.
The top 6 vegetarian foods with the highest iron content
- Wheat bran (16 milligrams)
- Pumpkin seeds (12.1 milligrams)
- Sesame seeds (10 milligrams)
- Legumes, especially soybeans (up to 8.6 milligrams)
- Linseed (8.2 milligrams)
- Quinoa and Amaranth (8 – 9 milligrams)