vegetarian

A vegetarian diet (vegetarianism) is an ideal diet for people who want to reduce their environmental impact and lower their risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.

Most vegetarian foods (especially the minimal processed ones) are much better for you than meat as they are lower in calories, high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and rich in iron. Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may also help improve cholesterol levels. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

A healthy vegetarian diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Our favorite go-to superfood is mushrooms! A healthy approach to vegetarianism provides adequate levels of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, vitamin E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals.

A vegetarian diet helps lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. Low density lipoproteins (LDLs), known as the bad cholesterol, is 24% lower in vegetarians and 57% lower in strict vegetarians compared to meat eaters. Lower LDL levels may be due to higher intakes of soluble fiber which has been shown to lower LDL and total cholesterol. 

Making the decision to switch

Starting a vegetarian diet can be a scary, exciting, and difficult decision. Vegetarianism isn’t for everyone. If you have health issues or fears about consuming certain foods, it may not be the best decision for you. Talk with our doctor before switching to a vegetarian diet, especially if you take prescription medicines or if your goal is to lose a lot of weight.

Questions to ask your doctor before starting a vegetarian diet

  • How will I get enough protein?
  • What type of weight loss or gain should I expect?
  • Which fruits and vegetables will interact with my medicines
    • Ex: grapefruit should not be eaten if you take medicine to lower your blood pressure.
  • Will I miss out on social events?
  • Will my health decline?
  • Should I ask a nutritionist or dietitian to help with me make a list of meal options?
  • Do I need to eat more than 3 meals a day?

Simple and quick vegetarian meal ideas

  • Breakfast
    • Vegetarian omelette with hash browns
    • Fruit smoothie (add chia seeds for a nutritious boost)
    • Tofu scramble with a side of fresh juice
    • Fruit smoothie with flax seeds sprinkled on top
    • Moringa and hemp seed smoothie
    • Boiled eggs with a side of avocado toast
  • Snacks/lunch
    • Hummus with carrots and celery sticks
    • Hemp seeds
    • A simple lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sprouts sandwich
    • Vegetable stir fry
  • Dinner
    • Spinach artichoke stuffed mushrooms
    • Cauliflower curry
    • Mixed beans, sweetcorn and aubergine casserole
    • Salad with beans or lentils
    • Beet salad
    • Cheese pizza with gluten free crust and homemade red sauce
    • Baked potato
    • Tomato Quinoa salad
    • Baked sweet potato with soy nut butter spread
    • Sweet roasted bell peppers
    • Stuffed portabella mushrooms
    • Israeli couscous with steamed vegetables
    • Eggplant spaghetti
    • Eggplant parmigiana

Mushrooms as a meat substitute

Mushrooms are a great substitute for meat. They are also a great source of protein and fiber. We add crimini mushrooms to spaghetti, oyster mushrooms to bone broth soup, and sautéed mushrooms to steamed broccoli or stir fry.

Mushroom_Recipes_Mamashealth

Ground flax seeds as an egg substitute

If you want to reduce but not eliminate eggs from your diet, consider flax seeds as a substitute. In general, 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water will replace 1 egg.