Created by: Kristen Carli, Dietetic Intern
Research shows that vegetarians have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower instances of diabetes and cancer. They do not simply omit meat from their diets, but instead increase their intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. All of these plant-based foods have many other nutrients that benefit our health such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc.
You do not need to go completely vegetarian to reap these benefits. Try to incorporate a few meatless meals per week. You’d be surprised at how easy it actually is! In fact, you may already be eating some vegetarian meals without even realizing it.
So where do you get your protein? This is the first question most people ask when someone describes a vegetarian diet. You would be surprised to find out that many plant-based foods have protein in them. Not just tofu! Some common sources of plant-based protein are beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, seeds, hummus, even broccoli!
Switch It Up
Read through the following tips to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet.
- Skip the meat on your next pizza and load up on veggie toppings! Try olives, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, etc.
- Seek out international cuisine. Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, and Indian restaurants often have a variety of vegetarian dishes.
- Make a veggie stir-fry with frozen mixed vegetables, soy sauce, brown rice, and edamame.
- Grill marinated portobello mushrooms instead of burgers. Serve with potato salad, corn on the cob, grilled vegetables, baked beans, and coleslaw.
- Try pasta with red sauce or olive oil with sundried tomatoes, white beans, and basil. Serve with a large green salad.
- Get middle-eastern food take out. Try grape leaves, falafel and baba ganoush on pita bread.
- Make a quick bean burrito with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and rice.
- When grocery shopping, seek out soups without meat like minestrone, black bean, tomato, or vegetable soups.
- Make a veggie sandwich with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and cucumber.
- Whip up a batch of vegetarian fajitas. Saute bell peppers and serve over rice with black beans, and guacamole.
- Snack on hummus with carrots, cucumbers, and crackers.
- Try toast with almond butter and bananas for breakfast, or blend up a quick smoothie with strawberries, frozen bananas, and almond milk.
Material adapted from pcrm.org