Becoming Vegan or Vegetarian.

Congratulations on your choice to become more health conscious. Choosing to follow a vegetarian diet is not a fly-by-night trend anymore, but is a going norm. It is not only for your health but also for the environment. It has become clear that reducing animal-based food consumption lowers the risk of suffering from many health issues, including heart disease and hypertension.

What’s the Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan Diets?

Being vegetarian is not the same thing as being vegan, but don’t worry, one is not better than the other; they’re just different philosophies.

The vegetarian diet focuses on balanced meals based firmly on plant-based foods while avoiding the consumption of meat. Animal-based products like dairy or egg are added to the diet. Some people even eat fish. Testing on animals is a no – no. And factory farming is not tolerated.

The vegan diet says no to anything coming from animals, including honey, bee’s wax, and even Worcestershire sauce (often containing anchovies). Other non-food products that come from animals are avoided, including leather and beauty products tested on animals. They too say no any testing on any animal and of course no to factory farming.

 

Furthermore, there’s no reason to think vegan or vegetarian food is boring to the palate. Actually, you will have some exciting and colorful plant-based dishes for a change. Cooking vegetarian meals is much easier than you think, too; you just need some confidence and a little creativity. Here’s what you need to know.

Proteins Matter.

Fruits, nuts, seeds and veggies provide all the nutrients your body needs, but if there’s something you have to look out for are proteins. If in the past you relied on animals now you can use different choices for protein.

For the vegetarian, you can still enjoy milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs. Some people will eat fish too! These are technically pescatarians. If you prefer to stay clear from animal-based products, you might want to add plant-based proteins to your diet. There are many brands out there that make “sausages”, ground “meat” and even “chicken”

All legumes, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soybeans, will keep you nourished. Think hummus, tempeh, edamame, soy milk and tofu — they’re amazing alternatives! Some pretty cool superfoods are good sources for proteins as well, including the algae-based spirulina and the South American quinoa seed.

Whenever you’re changing your diet significantly, remember to check in with your doctor. See what he or she has to say about it.

Mix and Match Flavors, Colors and Textures

Cooking is all about creativity, not about following recipes religiously. Put together your meals mixing and matching foods of all colors, flavor profiles and textures; that’s the secret, shh!

Pick up your heavy skillet and throw in your favorite plant-based protein, then add seasonal veggies and toss it all together. Top a hearty pasta, or make yourself a cheesy casserole, the sky’s the limit.

Confidence matters too. And the good news? The more you cook, the better you are at it. Start cooking with fresh herbs and veggies, and you’ll soon find your voice.

You are on the Right Path

If you’re considering going all-in on vegan or vegetarian diets, again congratulations. You’re doing yourself and the world a favor.

Having said that, our lifestyles aren’t black or white. Even by having vegetarian meals now and then, like joining the Meatless Monday movement, you can see drastic changes in your health, budget and the environment. No to mention all the animals will thank you. The earth will be a better place for all as we embrace a healthier lifestyle.