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Why Being a Vegetarian Isn’t As Hard As You May Think

Why Being a Vegetarian Isn’t As Hard As You May Think



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While being a vegetarian is easy and fun, it can take some time to get into the swing of things. During your first attempt you will most likely have a few “whoops, I forgot I’m not supposed to eat that!” moments. Eventually, it will feel so natural to not eat meat that it will be almost second nature. Good luck and remember, it is possible!

1. Drop the red meat

This is your first major step towards becoming a vegetarian and actually sticking to it. Not only is this a huge accomplishment, but you have also now decreased your overall fat intake by more than you probably know. Raw meat is also a major source of foodborne illness, so “go you!” because you are putting yourself at a lower risk of what can be a very unpleasant and dangerous experience.

2. Wean yourself down to only one type of meat

Turkey is a great option for this step. It is a lean meat that is lower in fat than a lot of other meats, but is still a great source of protein. Don’t forget that turkey can be cooked in several different ways, so make sure you don’t get bored and call it quits- you started for a reason. Try this turkey meatball recipe if you’re looking for inspiration!

3. Meat free

You have accomplished your goal! Keep it up, and it will eventually feel completely natural to not eat meat. Yes, you may be longing for a burger after a crazy night out, but from experience, being a vegetarian is totally worth it.

4. Sticking with it

In order to stick with this crazy meatless phenomenon, it is important to keep your key nutrients, specifically protein and fat, where they need to be. A great way to do this is to keep up with your dairy intake, as well as filling up on legumes like chickpeas and other types of beans. It is extremely important that you not only cut out meat, but also replace it with other food sources that still provide those essential nutrients.

If you are leaning toward giving this a shot, I say go for it! Click below for some of Spoon University’s best meatless recipes:

View the original post, Why Being a Vegetarian Isn’t As Hard As You May Think, on Spoon University.

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Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”


Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian?

You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and “magically” lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall?

The Verdict: Vegetarian diets can be unhealthy if you’re not careful

First of all, what exactly constitutes “vegetarian”? There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan). Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category: They eat only non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, soy, etc.), but do eat animal byproducts, such as yogurt and eggs. In terms of nutritional requirements, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian isn’t all that different from being a meat-eater, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, past media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans, however, don’t eat any animal products whatsoever -- and as a result, “they must be very careful in their selection of foods so that they get all the nutrients they need,” says Tallmadge. (Potato chips are vegan, after all.)

That said, following a vegetarian diet “can be nutritionally superior to any other way of eating,” says Tallmadge. “It can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, because we know plant foods are loaded with nutrients to protect our health.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!

Continued

“A vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss -- especially if you eat out at restaurants often,” says Tallmadge. “A lot of times, the only vegetarian dishes on the menu are cheesy and fattening.” It can be hard to find restaurants serving soy burgers or beans and rice, and eating restaurant-size portions of pasta, rice, nuts and cheese could quickly add up to weight gain. According to Tallmadge, the desire to eat lighter meals that provide adequate protein is what makes many vegetarians change their minds and start eating fish.

The most important thing for vegetarians of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing, according to Tallmadge, so make sure you’re getting protein in each meal throughout the day for optimum absorption. “In order to get essential amino acids and nutrients,” says Tallmadge, “vegans must eat soy protein -- the only vegetable protein which is as complete as animal protein. Or they must mix beans with grains.”