Vegetarians, by majority, have less risk for developing many of the wide spread diseases that we know of. Cancer. Heart disease. Obesity. Etc.
The good news–for those of us who want to go vegetarian (but not entirely)–is that by viewing vegetables, whole grains and legumes as the centerpiece of our meals while decreasing the amount of meat we consume, we can reap the very same health benefits.
“Semi-vegetarian” is the commonly used buzzword, a term which drives most full-fledged vegetarians and vegans crazy. But I say, if you’re making this as your very first step, as something that you feel you can do for your health, then just go with it! Whether you use this term or ditch it, it doesn’t really matter as far as your health is concerned.
The secret is to start off slow. Don’t expect an entire over-haul overnight (unless you’re an all-or-nothing kind of person, slow dietary changes are oftentimes the better choice for a long term approach.)
The key? Focus on whole grains. Eat more vegetables. Eat fresh fruit. It’s that simple.
As for the protein side of things, being semi-vegetarian means that you can still have meat. Just minimize your typical portion sizes over time, while increasing your use of meat-alternatives on the side.
Nuts and seeds.
Tempeh or tofu if you’re feeling exceptionally brave and motivated. 😉
Protein really isn’t a concern as long as you’re eating enough calories based on your energy needs while including a variety of nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
Keep in mind that by not going entirely vegetarian, you can include more of the healthy omega-3 rich fish like salmon, chunk light tuna and sardines in your diet as well, which have been linked to lowering your risks for cardiovascular events. Many heart health experts recommend eating 2 servings of fatty fish a week.
And remember. The occasional hamburger won’t kill you.
It’s okay to enjoy a slice of turkey on Thanskgiving.
Because if you’re eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, while eating lean meats a few times a week or in small quantities with your meals, you are already making great steps towards optimum health and well being.
It’s less about what we’re excluding from our meals and more about what we’re including.
Question: Have you ever been a vegetarian? Do you enjoy meat or do you eat it only occasionally? What are some of your favorite vegetarian meals?