What is Vegetarianism?
Vegetarianism is the practice of following a plant-based diet with or without the inclusion of dairy and eggs. Many people think that a life without meat would be boring, unhealthy, and damaging to your body. This is a common misconception seeing as vegetarianism has many benefits for the human body. Switching to a vegetarian diet helps lower cholesterol, control diabetes, prevent cancer, and retain vitamins. There has always been a concern among non-vegetarians about the supposed lack of protein that vegetarian’s ingest. There should be no concern about this. For the most part, Americans eat more protein than their bodies need. Too much protein can lead to cancer, kidney disease, and bone loss. There are many other foods with high amounts of protein including eggs, soy, dairy, beans, quinoa, and legumes. As long as a practicing vegetarian eats one of these daily, he will take in the appropriate amount of protein needed for his body to function. The four main food groups of healthy vegetarians are fruit, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods provide enough of the amino acids necessary to live a healthy life. (Photo courtesy of flickr/ALITTA ROSE)
Another benefit of a vegetarian lifestyle is that it maintains a healthy weight. There is a myth that too many carbohydrates will cause weight gain, but it’s pure fallacy. Foods high in carbohydrates are excellent in sustaining a healthy weight. They are a lower amount of calories in carbohydrates than in fats and they are stored differently in the body. Fat is immediately turned into body fat when your body ingests it. Less than five percent of calories in fat are burned in the process of conversion and storage. Carbohydrates are used as fuel for energy in the body. The complex carbohydrates found in the four vegetarian staple foods are the key to beneficial and nourishing diet. (Photo courtesy of flickr/Arlo_B)
Don’t feel constricted by the four food groups. Vegetarian cooking can be fun, easy, and delicious. There are many vegetarian non-meat options that make meals delicious and interesting. Cooking with tempeh, tofu, and vegan meat can taste just as good as the real thing. Give vegetarianism a try! Your will have more energy, vigor, and exuberance for life! (Photo courtesy of flickr/megabeth)