According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics vegetarians have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and certain types of cancers including colorectal, ovarian, and breast.
Vegetarians are people who primarily eat fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. Vegans exclude all animal products from their diet including dairy products, eggs, and honey. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but avoid meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy and eggs but avoid meat, poultry, and fish. The lacto-ovo’s make up the majority of vegetarians in the United States.
People choose to be vegetarians for many reasons including economical, environmental, personal health, spiritual beliefs, and compassion for animals. A well balanced vegetarian diet can be sufficient in all essential nutrients including protein, but careful planning is important; after all many processed foods such as chips and French fries are vegetarian but not healthy choices. Clean eating by targeting minimally processed wholesome foods provide the essential nutrients the body needs for optimal health.
Top sources of vegetarian protein include beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, tempeh, hemp, seitan, nuts, seeds, eggs, low fat dairy products, textured vegetable protein, soy products, and whole grains. Numerous vegetarian protein powders are also an option, the most prevalent contain soy, brown rice, pea, hemp, whey, or seeds.
Summer grilling is most often associated with burgers and hot dogs, but vegetarians can enjoy so much more when grilling outside. Using the grill brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and seals in moisture for tender texture. Grilled vegetables do not develop dangerous carcinogens that meat does when cooked over high temperature, such as Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Vegetables are also high in fiber, rich in nutrients, low in calories, and provide antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body.
Whether you are a vegetarian or not we can all benefit from eating meatless meals during the week. Consider the delicious summer recipe below and consider adding a meatless Monday to your families routine to help increase the vegetables in your diet.