The benefits of being vegetarian are becoming increasingly evident, as more and more research sheds light on the subject. More and more people are choosing to become vegetarian because of health reasons or because of personal beliefs relating to animal rights and cruelty. A vegetarian diet seems able to fulfill most if not all of the human body’s nutritional needs. However there exist several apprehensions – whether it can provide the body with enough protein as well as other nutrients such as iron, which meat can provide.
Assuming that we’re speaking about being vegetarian and not vegan, here are some constituents to include in a healthy vegetarian diet plan:
The Food Pyramid
The standard food pyramid can be slightly modified to suit the vegetarian plan. According to the vegetarian food pyramid, you should aim for 6 servings of grains, 5 servings of protein rich foods such as legumes, dairy products and nuts, 4 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruit and 2 of healthy fats.
Aim for Whole and Unprocessed
This is something that any one, vegetarian or non-vegetarian can and should aim for – as far as possible, buy and consume whole grains, whole fruit and vegetables. Cut out the junk foods that are loaded with refined sugars and carbs, salts, fats, preservatives and other additives.
Instead, buy whole, fresh produce and find different and enjoyable ways to cook these at home so that the body is getting as much nutrition as possible (as against mere calories). Make sure to include plenty of brightly pigmented produce in your daily intake – broccoli, blueberries, grapes, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables are all known to really good for health.
It is important to keep the diet as varied as possible. To include a variety of different fruit and vegetables in the diet, eat locally grown, seasonal produce. This way you end up eating a wide variety of different foods during the year.
Consider Being a Lacto-ovo Vegetarian
If you find that you are unable to commit to the diet plan, or that it seems insufficient for your nutritional needs, consider being alacto-ovo vegetarian – someone who eats no meat, fish or poultry but who consumes milk, dairy products and non-fertilized eggs.