Eating a healthy vegetarian diet is increasingly popular and can be an excellent way to improve your health. A vegan diet is also environmentally friendly and often more affordable than buying meat-based products.
But if you’re new to the world of vegetarianism, it can seem overwhelming. This guide will help you get started and make sure your vegetarian healthy diet is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
What Is a Healthy Vegetarian Diet?
Healthy vegetarian diets is one that focuses on plant-based foods while avoiding all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and fish. It may include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as whole grains. To ensure balanced diet and adequate nutrition, it’s important to make sure your meals are balanced with a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
This can be done by adding in healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates that are found in plant-based sources. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day will help you meet your daily nutrient needs.
Additionally, it’s important to include enough calcium, iron and vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements as these nutrients are not found in plants. It’s also important to check labels for hidden animal ingredients like gelatin. Gelatin is derived from the collagen of animals and is often used as a thickener or gelling agent in foods such as yogurt, marshmallows, and jello. Many vegetarians choose to avoid it by reading food labels carefully and making sure to select products that are labeled “vegetarian” or “100% plant-based.”
How To Start A Healthy Vegetarian Diet?
1. Figure Out What Type of Vegetarian Diet You Want to Follow
The first step in following a vegetarian diet is to decide which type of vegetarianism works best for you. There are several different types, including: vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian.
• Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism. Vegans do not eat any animal products or byproducts, including eggs, dairy, honey, and gelatin.
• Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t consume any meat but do eat eggs and dairy products.
• Pesco-vegetarians are similar to lacto-ovo vegetarians but also eat fish and other seafood.
• Semi-vegetarians, or flexitarians, consume some meat, poultry, and/or fish in addition to plant foods.
2. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Protein
Protein is an important nutrient for all diets, including vegetarianism. It’s easy to get enough protein from plant foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Some great sources of vegetarian protein include tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, quinoa, and beans.
It’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough of the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. When eaten together, certain plant foods can provide complete proteins containing all nine essential amino acids. Some combinations include beans and rice, peanut butter and bread, and hummus and pita.
3. Include Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy vegetarian diet. They provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Aim to eat several servings of both fruits and vegetables each day.
If you’re having trouble getting enough servings in your diet, try adding them to meals or snacks throughout the day. For example, you can make a smoothie for breakfast with frozen fruit or add roasted veggies to your lunch salad. You can also try adding berries to oatmeal or hummus as a snack.
4. Choose Whole Grains Over Refined Grains
Whole grains are an important source of fiber and other essential nutrients. Eating whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals is a great way to get more fiber in your diet. Choose whole grains over refined grains whenever possible.
Try replacing white pasta with brown rice or quinoa, and opt for 100% whole wheat bread instead of white bread. You can also look for ancient grains such as amaranth, millet, and spelt, which are becoming more popular in stores.
5. Don’t Forget to Include Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are an important part of a vegetarian diet. They help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K and provide energy for your cells. Some good sources of vegetarian-friendly fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and nut butters.
If you’re looking to take your diet a step further, consider adding small amounts of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. They are found in foods like chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, and hemp seeds.
6. Supplement Your Diet With Nutrients That May Be Missing
Although a well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy, it may be necessary to supplement with certain nutrients that may be missing due to the absence of animal products. These include iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. If you are concerned that your diet may be lacking in any of these nutrients, talk to your healthcare provider about the best supplement for you.
7. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for overall health. Try to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day to stay well hydrated. This will help your body absorb the nutrients from the food you eat and keep you feeling energized. Add slices of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, or oranges to your water for a refreshing twist.
Healthy Vegetarian Diet Bottom Line
By following a well-balanced and nutrient-rich vegetarian diet, you can enjoy the health benefits of eating more whole plants while avoiding animal products. A healthy vegetarian diet is an excellent way to maintain overall health and wellness.