What Does it Mean to Become a Vegetarian?
People become vegetarians for several reasons. Some are convicted morally. They would simply rather not cause animal death for their own nutrient consumption. Since there are other options besides meat, they feel that the choice is one of simple right and wrong. Other vegetarians eat the way they do because they don't like the taste or texture of meat. Especially if it was not something they were used to eating while growing up, meat can be an acquired taste that many people would rather not acquire. Another group becomes vegetarian
because it becomes medically necessary. Meat has high protein content, but it also has high fat and cholesterol content. It has also been labeled as a potential carcinogen. Since meat is not a necessary form of protein, many find themselves in need of eliminating it from their diets in order to live healthier lives. If you are in the category of people converting to a vegetarian diet for health reasons, you may be at a loss of how to begin the transition.
Obviously, you will want to cut meat from your diet. In your mind, this may equate to macaroni and cheese or salads for every meal. You may envision eating fried chicken with your family. While they fill their plates, yours only contains dry mashed potatoes and green beans. None of these options is a good one for nutritional balance in your life. Simply cutting meat without adding any supplemental food will not leave you in any better of a position for healthy living. Cheese is much too fattening to be your sole source of protein. Salads do not contain enough essential nutrients all in themselves. They are great additions to any vegetarian meal, but should not be substituted for balanced nutrition. Vegetarianism is not just a diet absent of meat. It is much more complex and fulfilling than that.
The Not So Obvious
Many people are surprised that becoming a vegetarian actually very often means a more varied and interesting diet. Instead of starting with a meat main dish and adding sides, the process of building meals begins to involve more creativity. While protein is important in a vegetarian diet, it is no longer the focus of the meal. Vegetarian meals are full of all kinds of different foods because many foods can compliment each other in creating a balanced meal. By becoming a vegetarian your eyes will be opened to new opportunities for building fantastically fun meals. Protein is no longer limited to beef, chicken or pork. You can now freely explore the potential in beans, nuts, tofu and cheese. You will quickly learn that there are endless varieties and cooking methods for all of the above.
Becoming a vegetarian does not simply mean that you stop eating meat. This picture of vegetarianism is incomplete and discouraging. Instead, vegetarianism involves substituting other proteins for the protein normally consumed as meat. It also means reducing overall fat intake by filling up on nutritious produce items. Becoming a vegetarian opens doors to the world of food. Don't be afraid to try out all of your new options.
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