If you love animals and want to save them from cruelty, slaughter, and testing, want to become healthier than you have ever been before, and want to help the environment, there is one way that you can do it all: become a vegetarian.
Obviously, this is not nearly as easy as it sounds, and it is not something that everyone can do. Maybe you have considered it in the past but didn’t think that you would be able to give up meat.
Here’s an idea.
Why not try it out for a month, to see if it is something that you can do. You are not making any permanent changes to your life, but you will get an opportunity to see if being a vegetarian is the right choice for you.
There are so many benefits to becoming a vegetarian, and even in just one month, you are going to notice some significant changes in your health. If you are interested in trying this one-month challenge, read on to learn more about how to do it.
What is a Vegetarian?
When you come right down to it, the term “vegetarian” simply means one who follows a plant-based diet. There are actually a few different types of vegetarians, and several different types of vegetarian diets. For instance, there are strict vegetarians, or vegans, who only eat plant-based food, and do not eat any animal products at all, including dairy and eggs. Then, there are lacto-vegetarians, who do include dairy in their diets.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat dairy and eggs. Pesco-vegetarians include fish in their diets, as well as dairy, eggs, and of course, plant-based foods. Last, but not least, are semi-vegetarians, who include poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs in their diets, but do not eat any red meat.
Can You become a Vegetarian if You Really Love Meat?
When you really love something, including meat, it can be quite difficult to give it up.
But, as you read in the previous paragraph, it is not always necessary to give up all types of meat.
You can start by simply cutting red meat out of your diet.
Another option is to learn about meat substitutions, and to turn your favorite recipes into vegetarian recipes.
For instance, there are all kinds of wonderful things that you can do with pasta. It is filling and delicious, and you can add a lot of ingredients that are going to make it just as filling and satisfying as any meat dish. Here are a few meatless recipe ideas you might enjoy:
Now is a great time to start becoming more familiar with seasonings. When you are able to accent the flavors of your vegetable dishes, you are going to enjoy them even more, especially when you have the textures of vegetables, grain, tofu, and other interesting foods.
Start using more cumin, garlic, basil, cayenne, coriander, onion, parsley, leeks, shallots, and cilantro to your recipes. For even more flavor, you can experiment with dry mustard and Dijon mustard.
Are All Vegetarian Diets Healthier than Diets that Include Meat?
While some say that it is not easy to get all of the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet, when you come right down to it, you can get what you need, and then some.
It is only vegans who are at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Those who do include eggs and dairy products are less likely be have any nutritional deficiencies, as long as they are following a healthy, well-balanced diet. The following are the nutrients that people worry about not getting enough of with a vegetarian diet.
One of the biggest problems with a vegetarian diet is getting enough protein.
If you do include eggs and dairy in your diet, this shouldn’t be a problem.
You can also get protein from beans, lentils, other legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Don’t worry about being deficient in this vitamin overnight, as the liver stores enough to last for years.
If you don’t think that you are getting enough vitamin B12, you can get it from soy-based foods such as tempeh, fortified cereals, brewer’s yeast, and vitamin supplements.
You also need to make sure that you are getting plenty of zinc.
You can replace the zinc you once got from meat by eating whole grains, wheat germ, nuts and seeds, soy-based foods, and dairy products.
You can also take nutritional supplements that contain zinc.
While some vegetarian diets are low in iron, if you follow a diet that is well-balanced, this shouldn’t be an issue. Make sure that you are eating iron-rich foods, such as tofu, iron-fortified cereals, blackstrap molasses, lentils, prune juice, and chickpeas.
Also, eat a lot of foods that contain vitamin C, as this helps the body to better absorb iron.
As long as you are still eating dairy products, you don’t have to worry about not getting enough calcium in your diet.
Also, there are many calcium-rich foods you can enjoy, including a variety of fruits, and you can also get calcium supplements.
While we don’t need foods that contain saturated fats, we do need to have the healthy, unsaturated fats in our diets.
Many people think that a vegetarian diet doesn’t have enough fat, but there are actually many plant-based foods that are high in fat, including nuts and seeds, and various oils.
Health Benefits of Going Vegetarian for One Month
As long as your diet doesn’t include a lot of unhealthy, processed foods, you are going to notice a number of health benefits in the first month of being a vegetarian. So many, in fact, you may decide that you want to remain a vegetarian for life.
There are some health benefits that are almost immediately noticeable, and others that you may not notice, but that could save your life.
Since plant-based foods are low in cholesterol and saturated fats, as well as fiber, vigetarian diets can help lower your risk of high cholesterol. heart disease, and stroke. Meat eaters are much more likely to have heart issues than vegetarians.
Of course, if heart problems are hereditary, you may not be immune, but your plant-based diet is definitely going to play a role in keeping you healthy.
If you decide to become a vegetarian permanently, you will have less of a risk of developing macular degeneration, and eye disease that causes deterioration of the retina, and eventually leads to blindness.
Healthy Skin and Hair
Your skin and hair need the right nutrients in order to be healthy.
When you are on a vegetarian diet, you will almost immediately notice an improvement in your overall skin tone, and you are going to have hair that is healthy and shiny. It will also help to improve the appearance of your finger nails.
REDUCED RISK OF CANCER
Those who follow vegetarian diets have a reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer, including colon, stomach, lung, esophagus, mouth, prostate, breast, and bladder cancers. This is because a plant-based diet is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids.
REDUCED RISK OF DIABETES
Not only can a vegetarian diet reduce your risk of developing diabetes, if you already have type 2 diabetes, it can help to keep it in check. Studies show that those who have type 2 diabetes and follow a plant-based diet experience fewer symptoms and are better able to keep blood sugar levels regulated.
Go Vegetarian for One Month, the Easy Way
If you do it right, you can easily go vegetarian for a full month, and not miss a lot of your favorite meats.
For instance, you don’t have to give up meat cold turkey. In fact, many vegetarians do enjoy cold turkey and other poultry, as well as dairy and eggs.
If you don’t think that you can give up meat completely, try cutting red meat out of your diet.
During the first week, enjoy plant-based breakfasts and lunches, and have a few meat meals for dinners. In the second week, cut out two of those meat meals. In week three, cut out four or five of the meat meals. In the final week, don’t have any meat at all.
By doing it in stages, you are going to be able to slowly wean yourself off meat and start enjoying a variety of plant-based foods. Eat foods that are high in fiber to help you to feel fuller and more satisfied.
conclusion - A Healthy Meal Plan with Recipes
Before you begin your one-month vegetarian diet, it is a good idea to prepare a meal plan. You don’t have to stick to every last letter, but it is a good guide to have for the month.
Here is a sample meal plan for your one-month vegetarian experiment, along with a few tasty recipes. Try to enjoy a variety of foods so you don’t find your one-month vegetarian boring.
Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, because the food you eat will give you energy for the rest of the day. Enjoy a larger meal, consisting of things like whole grain toast, oatmeal, eggs, fortified cereals, etc.
If you have to eat on the run, you can make plenty of on-the-go foods, including boiled eggs and filling smoothies.
Mid Morning Snacks
There are loads of things that you can enjoy snacking on between breakfast and lunch. Look for treats that are high in protein, such as nuts and seeds.
Or, snack on some sliced veggies with plain yogurt dip. Avoid unhealthy snacks such as potato chips and sweets.
It is a good idea to enjoy lighter lunches, such as salads, and add a few filling ingredients, such as eggs, cheese, seeds, tofu, chickpeas, black beans, etc.
Or, enjoy a peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread. Another great option is leftovers from previous meals.
Again, look for foods that are going to fill the hole, so to speak, and give you that extra boost of energy you need to get through the rest of the work day.
This meal should be filling, but not too heavy, especially if you don’t have dinner until 7 pm or later. Pasta dishes are always a good idea, as well as vegetarian soups and casseroles.
Rice is another great option, both brown and wild, along with beans and other legumes. If you need more to fill you up, add a salad to your meal, along with a healthy dessert.
You don’t want to eat anything too heavy before going to bed.
Some good suggestions include air-popped popcorn with a bit of popcorn seasoning, a fruit smoothie, or a few slices of veggies with dressing to dip them in.
DELICIOUS BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
Mix all ingredients together in a blender. You do not need to add any ice, as the frozen fruit will act as ice without watering down the drink as they melt.
Alphabet Soup for Lunch
Combine tomato juice, vegetable broth, and seasonings in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles, bring back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until noodles are almost cooked, stirring frequently so the noodles don’t stick to the pan.
Add frozen veggies and continue simmering until they are cooked. Enjoy with whole wheat crackers.
Healthy Pasta Dinner Salad
Combine Catalina salad dressing, mustard, reserved juice from the canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp paprika. Toss cooked macaroni with the stewed tomatoes, mixed veggies, and cheese, and stir in the dressing. Top with croutons.