Add a Liberal Dose of Veggies to Every Possible Dish

Different criteria, like, religious beliefs, philosophical concerns or health may influence a person to become a vegetarian. But following a vegetarian diet after years of being a carnivore is a huge task at hand. Take small steps, on eating a time. This type of progressive change will give you time to find your favourite vegetarian foods.

Explore Foods to Choose the Right Ones! 

Firstly, revisit your current diet. Note down the foods which you consume regularly, making special note of the vegetarian foods that you enjoy eating. Secondly, plan to accommodate these foods along with a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans in your diet regimen. For example, if you love to eat pasta or sandwich, add a generous serving of fresh vegetables to these foods.

Plant-based meatless substitutes bring the same flavour and taste of meat. Soybean proteins, wheat proteins and other vegetable sources are suitable substitutes. Have a look around your nearby grocery stores for vegetarian versions of hamburger, sausage, chicken or bacon. These make a good addition to dishes including chilli or casseroles but have control over portion size and sodium content.

If you are planning to do away with animal-based foods and become a vegan, look for dairy substitutes like calcium-fortified soy milk, soy yogurt and soy cheese. 

With today’s advanced technology, you can search the Internet for plenty of vegetarian recipes and meal ideas. Get the help of vegetarian cookbooks which contain numerous recipes on Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Supermarkets are also stored with various vegetarian ingredients and ready-to-eat meatless foods which can be used.

Hone your Label-Reading Skills

Vegetarians should hone their label-reading skills to stay truthful to their goal as many foods labelled vegetarian may actually contain indirect animal-based ingredients such as lard, chicken fat or gelatin. Ingredients are listed in decreasing order from the largest to the smallest. Such indication can help you choose quickly and make healthy food choices while avoiding foods made with the ingredients not consumed by you.

Another important reason to read labels is to assure your body of the required vitamins and minerals. Randomly consumed diets can result in health issues. This is because most of the people get their share of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D from animal products such as meat and milk.Hence it is imperative for vegans and vegetarians to include other sources of these nutrients in their daily eating plans.

The Nutrition Facts Panel comes handy at this juncture. This panel contains a detailed information about the serving size, calories and nutrients in one serving. This information will help people choose foods packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibre and help to stay within the daily calorie, fat and sodium limits. If you wish to restrict sugar intake, avoid foods that contain sugar, corn syrup or honey as one of their first ingredients.

Don’t succumb to the myth that vegetarian diets lack enough protein content.  Vegetarians can meet their protein needs by consuming a variety of plant proteins and getting enough calories. Plant proteins supply the body with the essential amino acids. Grains, beans, nuts and vegetables are excellent sources of protein while dairy foods like fat-free and low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs are also good sources of protein. Consuming a variety of these plant proteins everyday supplies your body with the required protein levels.

Learn more about vegetarian sources of protein.

Even Vegetarians Diets Can be High in Calories and Fats

Don’t wrongly assume that consuming a vegetarian diet will not lead to weight gain just because you have stopped eating meat. If the diet consumed contains full-fat dairy products, high-fat snacks, fried foods and foods with excess sugar content, you might end up with too many calories.

At the same time, you might even be consuming too much fat, like trans and saturated fats, which can lead to heart disease. Foods made from hydrogenated oil, many packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine and fried foods contain trans fat. Saturated fat is present in fats from animals including milk fat and lard, palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil.

Choose heart-healthy fats such as canola and olive oil, which are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and have minimal calories in comparison to their other fatty counterparts.

Keep your calories and fat levels controlled by consuming more of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Remember that plant food that is high in fats (avocados, coconuts, olives and oils from plants and seeds) are also high in calories. Nuts, excellent sources of monounsaturated fats, are also packed with calories. Lacto-vegetarians are at an advantage here as they can enjoy low-fat dairy products which are lower in calories, total fat and saturated fat than foods made with full-fat or cream. Vegans should choose dairy substitutes like low-fat or fat-free soy, rice or almond beverages.

Even soy food and meat-free foods can be high in fat. It is better to eat reduced-fat soy foods and meat-free products. You can do this by comparing labels and choosing lower-fat varieties. If you eat meat once in a while, choose lean cuts of meat with the fat trimmed off. Spice up the dishes with low-fat or fat-free seasonings and spices like herbs, mustard, vinegar, fruit juice, bean dips, fresh salsa and miso spreads. Try to use minimal reduced-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise.