What do Brad Pitt, Bob Dylan and David Duchovny have in common? They are all vegetarian. And they are not alone: slowly but surely the number of vegetarians worldwide is increasing. For anyone contemplating vegetarian freedom: here are 7 useful tips for a meat-free life.
Photo: Edsel Little, Wikimedia Commons
Making the change
Once you say goodbye to meat you will probably have a more varied diet. After all, the absence of meat needs to be compensated. That will require some adjustment, especially in the beginning. How can you eat good food without the risk of missing out on certain nutrients? The following tips can help:
- Choose variety. A varied diet is good for both taste buds and health. By varying nutrients you minimise the risk of any shortages. A vegetarian diet is based on whole grains, pulses, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Choose dairy. Dairy products are full of protein, so they are extremely healthy. Milk, yoghurt and cheese are convenient sources of dairy. Of course the low fat varieties are preferable. Would you rather a plant based alternative? Then opt for soy milk, for example.
- Choose grain. Grain products provide energy, fibres and vitamin C. Alternate between oat, barley, rye, wheat, corn, brown rice etc. Eat a portion of potatoes on a regular basis, since these are a rich source of starch.
- Choose meat substitutes. In the past, meat substitutes were tasteless and dry but that is no longer the case. Meat substitutes such as tofu, Tempe, seitan and quorn are becoming tastier and are full of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. In the future, the cultured burger will be added to the list.
- Choose nuts, seeds and pits. For many vegetarians, nuts, seeds and pits are part of their daily diet. That’s only logical since they are in such great variety and are rich in energy and nutrients. Nuts, seeds and pits can be used in every salad.
- Choose green. Every vegetarian ought to eat at least 200 grams of cooked vegetables, ideally supplemented by 100 grams of raw vegetable. The rule of thumb is: the greener the better. Dark green leafy vegetables, for example, are full of calcium and folic acid.
- Choose beans and pulses. They are cheap, healthy and add bite to any meal: beams and pulses are essential in the vegetarian kitchen. From lentil soup to Mexican wraps with kidney beans: the possibilities are endless.
Switching to a vegetarian diet requires some effort, but there are plenty of rewards: generally speaking, vegetarian have lower blood pressure and are at less risk of heart disease. What’s more, they are less overweight, have more energy and are more resistant to illness. To sum up: the vegetarian life is not just about what you eliminate, but also about what you gain. Be warned: once you have experienced meatless freedom, you will probably never go back.
Are you keen to try the meatless challenge? Then sign up for the 21 Day Vegan Challenge.