Today I wanted to share my healthy tips and advice for a vegetarian diet. I have been a vegetarian for around 10 years now, and it honestly feels like a lifetime ago that I ate meat or fish! I decided to become vegetarian after constantly feeling guilty for claiming to love animals and yet still be willing to consume them. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and I didn’t want to contribute to what I believe is unnecessary cruelty. I’m not going to lie, when I gave up meat I instantly went from eating chicken all the time to pretty much living on pizza and chips. I wasn’t very keen on a lot of vegetables which sounds mad, but it’s true. I soon starting feeling tired and had no energy after a few weeks. But overtime I have learned more about eating healthy, what we need in our diet and really healthy recipes, which I will be sharing on this blog as well. So many people decide to go vegetarian or vegan, and then immediately dive head first into unhealthy food to sustain them. Big mistake (Huge 😉 – movie quotes!) So I’m sharing my tips for those that want to change to a vegetarian diet, or even just try one day a week!
- Do Your research
As mentioned, my big mistake was giving up meat and immediately turning to unhealthy options to fill the void. It is so important to actually understand what you need to get from your diet, this is true for meat eaters as well. We all need to have a balanced and healthy diet, so when you choose to follow a plant-based diet, or vegetarian you need to make sure you are getting everything you need. I still have weeks when I get lazy, and revert back to quick meals, but I soon regret it feeling tired and cranky. Read up on the essentials you need, and make sure that what you eat reflects this.
I decided to follow a vegetarian diet knowing full well that a lot of vegetables I actually didn’t enjoy. But over time I have actually tried many a veg and found some I really love, (broccoli is the best). I think a reason some people struggle to enjoy veg is because of how you cook them. We all just think that boiling or steaming vegetables is the best way to prepare them, but when you think about it having boiled chicken all the time would be pretty bland, so why do we think vegetables should be the same? Why not flavour your vegetables and make something of them! Don’t be afraid to try something new, I have found vegetables I love and ones that I detest, but the point is to actually try.
3. Don’t be fooled
Whilst I love that there are so many vegetarian alternatives on the market today, from mince, chicken to even veggie ham, please don’t simply replace the meat in your diet with constant consumption of quorn or other meat free alternatives. These foods are great, and lower in fat than their meat counterparts, but you have to remember that they are still a processed food. I think a lot of people switch to this diet, but rather than try new recipes or even research what they need, they simply replace every meal with quorn. This is not a good idea. Yes quorn is a great way of getting protein, but it does also have a lot of soy. Too much soy is not what your body needs, therefore please make sure that you are getting your nutrients from many sources, and from more fresh or even frozen veg rather than always using meat replacements.
4. Watch what you eat
Another helpful tip I think you should remember is that you should be watching what you eat, even as a vegetarian. There are plenty of unhealthy vegetarians, and though if you eat right you should have a very healthy diet, it can be easy to assume you that because you have cut out greasy burgers and kebabs that you can afford to treat yourself more often with other food. Again I am speaking from experience, and my diet has slipped lately, mainly because I am quite a stress eater at times and my job has been causing major headaches lately so I know I need to give myself a talking to.
5. Plan Ahead
This is a tip that can work for anyone, whatever you eat. I find that planning meals ahead of time is the only way to guarantee you are getting the very best from your diet on a daily basis. Sundays were my meal prep day for a long time, but as I am now busy for most of the day volunteering right now, I have found that my prep has become hit and miss. I definitely feel the difference in my health when I prep my meals. Even if you plan ahead for just your dinner or lunch, this can make all the difference. Make some salads in bulk, cook rice, cous cous, quinoa and store it, chop veg so you have them ready to cook, all of these will help you stay on track. This is especially true for anyone who is drastically changing from eating a lot of meat to vegetarian. It is essential you read up on what makes a healthy diet, and plan your meals even just a day ahead.
Thanks for reading everyone. I hope you learned a few healthy tips to try out. Whether you eat meat or not, we should all be taking care of ourselves and being conscious of what we put in our bodies:)