Have you been considering ditching meat and going for a greener plate when it comes to your diet? Educate yourself on whether a vegetarian diet is right for you.
At first glance, choosing to enjoy a vegetarian diet can be as simple as forgoing meat. However, vegetarianism offers a wide range of diets. Some vegetarians choose to eliminate only red meat from their diets, while others omit eating any products that come from animals.
Below are three of the most common types of vegetarian diets:
Once you decide which type of vegetarian diet is best for you, you’ll want to consider how you can start incorporating it into everyday meals. Diane Werner is a licensed and registered dietitian, board certified sports dietitian and serves as a consultant to BCBSKS. She suggests people ease into their new diets, all while making sure their daily intake of vitamins and minerals remains high.
“Take a look at the foods you are currently eating that are on the vegetarian diet you would like to follow and build on that. Gradually add more vegetarian meals to your diet, alter recipes as needed, and search for vegetarian meals you can eat away from home.
“You also want to ensure that your intake of calcium, iron, and zinc is adequate, as meat, milk, and dairy sources are typically rich in these minerals. You also want to make sure that you get adequate protein as well as vitamins D and B12,” Werner said.
If you’re still unsure if a vegetarian diet is right for you, consider the health benefits typically associated with a meat and dairy-free diet.
“An individual typically consumes less saturated fat when limiting meat, milk and dairy items as well as an increased intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals when increasing fruits, vegetables and starches. Some health benefits may include a decreased risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity,” Werner said.
Now the only thing you’ll need to do is find your new favorite recipes! Below are a few links to get you started. BCBSKS members – if you’re looking for recipe inspiration, be sure to check out the WebMD portal in BlueAccess®.
Vegetarian recipes (Food Network)
Vegetarian desserts (Food.com)
41 Easy Vegetarian Recipes (Real Simple magazine)