Veggie Lovers Unite!
By: Emily J
It seems like everywhere you go there are more vegetarian and vegan items to choose from. For example, Taco Bell was the first fast food chain to offer a full certified vegetarian menu and Starbucks is offering alternative milks in their locations such as almond and coconut. But committing to a meat free lifestyle takes a lot of determination and, if not done correctly, can lead to some serious health risks. But, don’t worry, we have all of the information for you to start a new change.
First thing is that there is a big difference between vegetarianism and vegan. If you want to be a vegetarian, you choose not to eat meat. To be a vegan, you choose not to eat meat or any animal products. That means, no milk, no butter, no eggs, no cheese. However, there are plenty of vegan “dairy” products like Daiya, Earth Balance, and Follow Your Heart.
Perhaps the biggest question that vegetarians and vegans face is getting enough protein and iron. Not getting enough of these can lead to lack of energy and anemia which is never good. Some people take B12 and iron supplements. Other people incorporate iron enriched foods into their diet like spinach and tofu. Also, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein. There are also great options for your cravings like Beyond Meat, House Foods (perfect for vegan noodles!), and Vega (which gives you all your protein and other nutrition into your favorite smoothies).
There are a lot of reasons that people choose to give up meat and animal products. Some people are just picky eaters so going full vegetarian is an obvious step. Other people don’t want to be a part of the animal cruelty that goes on in the processed meat industry. Believe it or not, some people are bullied for their lifestyle choice. People say that eating meat is natural and that vegetarians and vegans aren’t proving anything. While there is no study that proves one diet is better than the other, people do well not eating animal products. They don’t feel like they are missing out by not eating meat. They can still go to their favorite restaurants and sometimes feel happier than they were before.
If you are a meat eater and thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, do it slowly. It will be a shock to your body and before you know it, you’ll be sinking your teeth into a Big Mac before you realized what happened. Start by taking a day not to eat meat (like Meatless Mondays) and slowly incorporate other vegetarian items into your diet. If you want to go the vegan route, start by not drinking cow’s milk and look into alternative milks. Once you are successful, start the process again with cheese, eggs, and other animal products. Remember, this isn’t a phase, it’s a lifestyle change. In the beginning, it’s going to be hard but if you have the motivation, you can do it!
To learn more about vegetarian and vegan diets check out the links here and here.