Not eating meat is one thing - following a healthy vegetarian diet is quite another. Like it or not, meat is a very convenient source of certain vitamins and minerals, so if you don't eat meat you need to take extra care to ensure that your diet satisfies your total nutritional needs.
Vegetarian eating requires a different approach to meal-preparation and cooking.
If you're serious about eating a healthy vegetarian diet, I strongly advise you to keep a stock of most (if not all) of the following foods. They are the essential building blocks of a balanced vegetarian diet.
As a basic guide, a balanced vegetarian diet should include the following each day:
Grains + Legumes = complete protein
Mix and maximize your protein intake
As well as combining grains with legumes, vegetarians can maximize their protein intake by including foods from at least two of the following groups, in their regular meals.
A non-meat diet isn't necessarily non-fattening! For best results, follow these guidelines:
1. Check labels on all convenience food
Non-meat doesn't mean non-fat. For example, convenience vegetarian foods (veggie burgers etc) often contain more fat than their meaty cousins. To avoid eating fat-bombs, always check the label!
2. Don't over-do the
eggs and cheese
3. Switch to low fat dairy products
This is important for all dieters - vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian.
4. Watch your sugar intake
5. Adopt sensible cooking habits
6. Go for variety!
If you don't make your diet as tasty and as enjoyable as possible, you'll never stick to it. The best way to make it enjoyable (and healthy) is to eat the widest possible variety.
Follow a balanced diet
A balanced vegetarian diet is exceptionally healthy. Indeed, the incidence of heart disease, stroke and cancer among vegetarians is much less than among non-vegetarians. However, an unbalanced vegetarian is no healthier - and may even be less healthy - than a non-vegetarian diet.
Facts about vegetarian nutrition
A balanced vegetarian diet supplies all the vitamins the body requires. Recent US and UK surveys have found that vitamin levels among vegetarian groups are quite adequate, and in some cases higher than the national average.
References: Includes material from Vegetarian Diet Information
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