Hello all you lovely people! Are you thinking about being a vegetarian or already are but need some guidance? I’ve seen a lot of questions lately about being a healthy vegetarian and what’s true and what isn’t. There’s so much information out there it can be easy to get completely overwhelmed about what’s true and what isn’t so I wanted to put together a quick post of the top three things you need know about being a healthy vegetarian.
I am not vegetarian currently, but I spent a few years as a vegetarian and six years as a pescatarian. I started eating meat again when I got sick with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and meat was one of the only ten foods I could tolerate. So I’m very familiar with the vegetarian lifestyle and many questions that you may have. I could go on forever about how to have a healthy vegetarian diet, but I decided to keep this snack-sized. So keep reading if you want to figure out how to eat healthy and what exactly you need to be eating to get all those yummy nutrients you need!
Does cutting out red meat mean I’ll get an iron deficiency?
You’ve heard this question before. Probably ALL of your friends, parents, teachers and even strangers have brought up your possible low iron levels. Don’t let the nosy cashier at Whole Foods get you down!
As a vegetarian, if you are lacking key foods in your diet, you may have vitamin deficiencies of B12, calcium, iron and zinc. I always believe in getting your nutrients and vitamins from whole foods as much as possible, but sometimes you have a deficiency whether you’re vegetarian or not. Later on, we will outline what you need in your diet to prevent these deficiencies, but to ensure that you have correct nutrition overall, sometimes it’s best to take a health supplement. There are all-natural supplements like turmeric and omega-3 that help your overall health, from providing antioxidants or reducing inflammation in your cells. Reading personal reviews of natural supplements is always helpful, which you can do on Authority Reports here.
Just because you’re cutting out meat from your diet doesn’t mean you’ll get an iron deficiency – but it’s also important to have regular blood tests to make sure your levels are good (I suggest this for everyone).
Women from around the age of 13 until their late 50’s should have twice as much iron intake as men their same age. This has to do with menstruation which can start as young as nine years old. Monthly loss of blood means depleted iron levels. If you’re feeling overtired and don’t feel rested after you sleep eight or nine hours, you may benefit from taking an iron supplement.
Do I need to eat tofu for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Usually, if you’re just starting out being a vegetarian, figuring out the best food choices can seem impossible. Everyone and their mother associates being a vegetarian with tofu so it can be easy to simply rely on tofu as a food source, but that will not give you the varied nutrients you need. You don’t need to just eat one food, nor should you, to be vegetarian. A vegetarian diet is extremely vast and your goal should be to create as colorful a plate as you can for breakfast, lunch, dinner and those delicious snacks. Brussels sprouts anyone!?
So, what foods do you need to eat to ensure you’re getting the correct nutrients? Besides taking natural supplements if you need to, which we already discussed, you should make sure you are eating a varied diet. Fruits and vegetables provide a plethora of vitamins, including iron and vitamin A, C, and E. Grains and fortified cereals contain vitamin B12 which is usually found in meat, as well as protein and zinc. Make sure you’re eating iron-rich foods like spinach and broccoli with vitamin C so the iron can be fully absorbed. And finally, you can get calcium from dairy products. See below for a more detailed list.
Add as many colors you can to your plate and limit your sugar intake and you’ll find eating a healthy diet is easy to follow. So, never fear, you can eat a lot more than tofu as a vegetarian!
Am I missing out on life by not eating meat?
The answer to this question is…it’s up to you! People decide to start being a vegetarian for many reasons such as health, animal cruelty or not liking the texture of meat. Only you can decide if this lifestyle is the one for you. There’s no shame in trying something out and deciding it’s not for you. So if you’re on the fence definitely give it a try! A lot of people find that since they need to get their nutrients from other foods they eat a much more varied diet and end up getting more nutrients than they ever were before!
Adopting a vegetarian lifestyle can result in having lower glucose levels, low blood pressure and low triglycerides, which all help you maintain a healthy weight.
The jury is out (isn’t it always?) on what red meat can and can’t cause, but right now it’s believe that cutting out red meat can reduce your risk of heart disease. The consumption of red meat, especially in large amounts, is thought to cause clogged arteries and increase your cholesterol level. There is also research that has been released that links eating red meat to cancer.
There is so much more I could cover about vegetarianism like how it helps protect the environment and prevents animal cruelty, but my goal is to help those who have decided to be vegetarian lead the healthiest veggie lifestyle they can! Hype!
Being a vegetarian can be a super rewarding lifestyle, but in order to be a healthy one you need to make yourself as knowledgeable as you can about what to eat to score the most nutrient points for your bod! Once I got over my carboholic ways when I first became vegetarian years ago I really loved how much it did for my complexion and energy levels.
I hope you enjoyed my post on the top three things you need to know about being a vegetarian and came away with a little bit more knowledge than you had when you started reading.
Buddha Belly has received compensation for this post, but, as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting!
***This is not medical advice. If you have any questions about your health please speak with your doctor***