It’s National Vegetarian Week and all over the country people will be finding out more about the benefits of going vegetarian, or at the very least, eating less meat! This week on The High Tea Cast we’ll be giving you lots of tips and tricks on how to tackle vegetarianism, healthy eating and wellbeing head on!
Some people may find it pretty easy pack in their meat habit over night, however I believe that a more transitional approach could be best, especially if you eat a lot of meat normally. Your body will be used to a certain level of nutrients and energy that come from the meat, for example heme iron which is the animal form of iron. This form of iron is the most easily absorbed, however plants have iron in abundance but in its non heme form. It can take the body some time to get used to absorbing iron from plants, so to help avoid feeling tired or low on energy you could take a more transitional approach over a few weeks.
Don’t forget the ‘veg’ in vegetarian
Vegetarian diets are often hailed as being healthier but a big part of that is when you are actually eating those veg! Try not to become a ‘junk food’ vegetarian – yes chips and cheese and tomato pizzas are vegetarian but you won’t see any benefits eating those kind of foods. There is an amazing amount of delicious, healthy vegetarian food available now, but just experimenting with vegetables is a great start.
Resist the meat alternatives
Meat alternatives such as Quorn, veggie sausages etc are fine in moderation but it is often tempting to just replace the old meat in your diet with one of these processed products. Most of these processed products contain a shit load of chemicals and soy isolates and are not the healthiest choice. If you are concerned about protein look to beans, eggs, plain non GMO tofu and tempeh instead, these foods can taste amazing and are so much better for you than something that was made in a factory!
Review your supplements
I’m not one for suggesting supplementation if there is no need, however I believe that in this day and age of food transportation, nutrient depleted soils and just modern life, we all benefit from some supplementation. This is even more key for vegetarians and especially for vegans. I would take a good all round vegetarian / vegan multivitamin. It should contain vitamin B12 which is essential for vegans as this vitamin is only found in animal derived products). I would also recommend a plant based omega 3 supplement or adding ground flax or flaxseed oil to some meals and snacks.
I know that might sound daft when let’s face it, the majority of us are seeking to lose weight. However, this is a trap I fell into when I was vegetarian / vegan for a couple of years. When you remove meat and fish from your diet (eggs and dairy if you are going the whole way and becoming vegan) you are removing a major source of calories and energy. That might work well if you are looking to drop a few pounds, however if you are not and if you are already very active you need to make sure you are eating enough to keep yourself well fuelled. Your portion sizes may be bigger than you are used to as plant based foods tend to have more volume for their calories than animal based foods, just keep an eye on your energy levels as you go!
Overall I think vegetarianism and veganism can be an exceptionally healthy way to eat, however I do firmly believe that different things work for different people. I’m sure that some people would disagree with me, but in my experience I don’t believe that everyone’s body is suited to a vegetarian diet. Mine wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t eat less meat, and make the meat that you do eat come from high quality sources. Most importantly, eat that veg!
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