By Chloe Bonini
For those living in politically and environmentally progressive California, it is clear vegetarianism has gained great momentum in the last few years. From celebrities to average citizens alike, the appeal of vegetarianism is centered around health and sustainability. Considering going vegetarian? Concerned for what that journey might hold? Here are some key things to implement when going vegetarian.
What sources of nutrients will be necessary to make up for? Meat is regarded as a reliable source of iron and protein, but how much protein and iron do you need? It benefits big corporations to condition the public to believe that their meat products are highly beneficial and even necessary to your diet. The truth is, you don’t need as much as you think. Dark green vegetables and dark leafy vegetables are an excellent source of iron, and it doesn’t take large quantities or severe lifestyle changes to incorporate greens into your diet. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, consider a fruit and leafy green smoothie in the mornings. Leafy greens and assorted frozen fruit are easy to buy in bulk and smoothies require minimal effort to make/consume. Furthermore, smoothies can also be used to address any dietary protein concerns that arise by adding plant based protein supplements to your smoothies.
If smoothies don’t fit into your schedule, other sources of protein include nuts, quinoa, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, and more. But to eliminate the smoothie debate all together, here is some information you may want to know: one of the main concerns for vegetarians is actually attaining a healthy caloric intake. It is not difficult whatsoever to reach the proper amount of nutrients with minimal lifestyle changes; rather, it is important to ensure that your stomach and body are fueled and happy with every meal. Achieving a healthy caloric intake in the absence of meat means incorporating a lot more (healthy) carbohydrates into your diet, and with meal planning, you can still incorporate the necessary greens and micronutrients. Balanced dishes that include carbs like brown rice, jasmine rice, or quinoa are excellent sources of both carbohydrates and proteins. The addition of fresh ingredients such as produce that include fats, omegas, and other vitamins create a balanced meal.
Being able to whip up a quick vegetarian meal does not mean speed is exchanged for health. Most, if not all vegetarian recipes are designed with nutritional value in mind. For the busiest people of all, finding the balance between a quick enough meal and meal planning for the day or week is key. The biggest lifestyle change comes when there are limited vegetarian options around, and although this is not as much a problem in metropolitan and liberal areas, this can be a struggle in school or the workplace. Set aside one to two hours on whatever day or days of the week you can to prepare meals for the week. Many meal planners make huge portions for each aspect of the meal, and then divide these components across meal containers for each day of the week. If you require more diversity than eating the same meal each week, incorporate one or two days of ordering out into your schedule. This offers an opportunity to explore vegetarian options in your area as well as keep from getting bored.
In addition, it is necessary to acknowledge that much of meat’s appeal is flavor wise. Nothing is stopping you from using delicious seasonings and sauces on your veggie burgers, salads, rices, pastas, and more. Take for example buffalo cauliflower bites.
If you are someone who adores a diet with great variety, this is still attainable with vegetarianism. Whether you have a lot of time on your hands or not, the internet is a great resource for vegetarian dishes, with a range of options that take time constraints (laziness) into account.Being vegetarianism doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste, convenience, or nutrition. Whether you eat meat or not, making sure you are full, happy, and refueled at every balanced meal is key.