Fewer vegetarians get colon cancer. Up to 50% fewer, according to some. A vegetarian diet is also very heart friendly and all that fiber can make a person's digestive system quite happy!
The benefits to a vegetarian diet are plenty but many people worry they will lack in certain nutrients, including iron and certain vitamins like B12, as well as zinc and potassium. They also worry about not really feeling full or missing out on the satisfaction that chewing a good hearty steak or burger can supply.
On that particular note - veggies burgers, veggie links, veggie chicken, veggie hot dogs and veggie bacon can supply much of that satisfaction, along with high protein, fiber and iron contents, and less cholesterol and fat.
Hearty salads with tomatoes, cheeses, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers , onions, broccoli and dozens of other fruits and veggies can be very filling and give us much of the calcium we need for healthy skin, hair, teeth and bones.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts offer a satisfying chewy snack that's good for the heart and full of the good fats (like Omega 3) and anti oxidants our bodies need.
All kind of beans are good for that chewing satisfaction, good protein, iron and fiber sources and dipping foods like hummus and baba ghanoush are great for healthy starter dishes or parties.
Pastas and rice are filling and delicious. I'm not a big fan of tofu - I just don't like the texture but many do and tofu can be incorporated into everything from salads to rice dishes to wraps. Speaking of wraps, tempeh (a personal favorite of mine!) wraps with avocado are heaven.
A word of caution with regard to vitamin B12 - vegetarians need to make sure they eat cereals or veggie products fortified with this vitamin, as it's main source is usually meat or dairy. A vitamin supplement might be a good idea here.
Use lots of spices and herbs to make your food as flavorful as possible and experiment as much as you like! There are thousands of different grains, pastas, rice, soybean derivatives, beans, breads, fruits and veggie combinations out there. The vegetarian diet is anything but boring!
Don't forget that dessert is also vegetarian!
When considering a vegetarian diet, it's important to not simply drop meat from your diet. You need to add many of the foods listed above and make sure that a well-rounded and well planned out vegetarian diet is substituted instead.
Last but definitely not least - a vegetarian diet is very environmentally friendly.
The vegetarian diet is not for everybody but we need to remember that when done properly, it's a healthy, delicious, fully nutritional and well-balanced alternative!
Some great veggie sites:
The Vegetarian Resource Group: www.vrg.org
Savvy Vegetarian at www.savvyvegetarian.com
And the Mayo Clinic offer support and advice here:
And just for fun - here's a list of famous vegetarians! It's very long and you might be surprised!
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