There are many reasons to become a vegetarian. Although some people choose to do so for religious or ethical reasons, more and more Americans are choosing the vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons.
Vegetarians have a huge advantage over meat eaters in the long term. They live longer and are generally 30 pounds lighter. That’s right, eating vegetables helps you maintain a healthy weight and can add up to 10 years to your life!
Vegetarians are less likely to get diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Plants, unlike animal products, do not contain cholesterol and saturated fats which have been linked to high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems.
Even among vegetarians, health outcomes vary depending on food choices.
There are three main types of vegetarian diets.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians are the most common. They eat all dairy products and eggs in addition to vegetables. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products, no eggs, and ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, no dairy.
Strict vegetarians live solely on vegetables, pulses (lentils, beans, peas) and grains. They do not consume any animal products at all.
As you can imagine, completely overhauling your diet is not easy, so having a good reason why you’re doing it is a BIG help.
Better health is obviously a great reason to go vegetarian. Your health goals will keep you going when the going gets tough.
The first step to becoming a vegetarian is to find protein substitutes and recipes you enjoy making and eating. Here’s something fun: challenge yourself to try a new vegetarian recipe each week as you transition into this new lifestyle. And remember that many of your favorite restaurants offer vegetarian-friendly options. You can even check their menus online.
It’s normal to have cravings during the transition period. One way to deal with these cravings is through the use of meat substitutes.
For instance, you don’t have to give up spaghetti and meatballs when you become a vegetarian because you’ll be able to find a variety of meatless substitutes at your local market. Granted, it might taste a little bit different at first but you’ll get used to it and reach the point where you like it even more because of how much better you feel. Keep in mind that you will be adding up to ten extra quality years of life, on average, by adopting this diet.
Some people choose to avoid substitutes because they keep the cravings alive and don’t taste the same as meat products. They opt for alternative protein sources like lentils, beans, peas, dairy and eggs.
Living with Non-Vegetarians
It’s not easy to stick to a vegetarian diet when the rest of the family is eating meat. Sometimes it feels like you have to choose between enjoying dinner with your family or vegetarianism. But most families are glad to support their loved one’s healthier choices.
It’s totally possible to live with meat eaters and not give in to your cravings for burgers. All it takes is time and practice. Talk to them about your reasons for becoming a vegetarian and they will no doubt support you just as long as you’re not being critical or judgmental of their dietary choices.
At the end of the day, what healthy family wouldn’t want their loved ones to be around for an extra decade of laughter and joy? Keep the end goal in mind and you’ll do just fine as you transition into a vegetarian lifestyle.