Think of all the foods you love to eat… then take out the meat. When its broken down in it’s simplest form its very easy to see how so many people do vegetarian diets. In fact, I became a vegetarian by accident. I had just moved to a new city and after 3-4 months and realized I hadn’t eaten any meat expect for some fish once or twice since I had gotten there.
I figured “if its that easy… I’ll just keep doing it”. There were long periods where I would be strictly vegetarian. 8 years later and I’m a pesco-vegetarian. (I’ll explain what that is later.)
Once of the first things you’ll notice after being vegetarian for a while is how much more energy and clear headed you are. Apparently it takes a lot of energy for the body to digest meats. So if the body doesn’t have to use that energy for digestion, it now has a bunch of freed up energy to use.
But isn’t being a vegetarian difficult? Not really. Its more about mental power than anything. After a few weeks of not eating meat it becomes easier for the mind to associate the negative aspects of meat with how it makes you feel after eating it.
Eat everything else you want so long as it’s not an animal. This is where it gets really easy because you can kind of cheat and eat animal products. Things like eggs, milk and other dairy items. These also have excellent sources of protein. That key thing people overly worry about with vegetarians.
Becoming a vegetarian is more than just eating boring salads everyday.
There are vegetarian burgers made from chickpeas and some burger patties are made with black beans which taste amazing.
I think they taste better than beef burgers and they still have a decent amount of protein. The options for what you can make veggie burgers with are limitless.
List of high protein foods from vegetarian sources
- Whey protein
- Beans (black beans, peas, baked beans)
- Nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews)
- Seeds (pumpkin, chia, sunflower)
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
- Hemp foods (seeds, powder, etc)
- Soy products (tofu everything, edamame, soy milk, miso) Soy products in limited consumption for guys
- Mycoprotein (protein made from fungus, think more along the lines of mushrooms used as tofu)
- Mushrooms (speaking of which)
- Hummus (chickpeas) this stuff is awesome
- Spirulina (also contains natural B12)
Dairy is a bit of a grey area because it has a lot of benefits but there are a few downsides. Same with soybeans (particularly men). Soy products can effect testosterone levels in men. Use these two sparingly in my opinion.
Once you jump into being a vegetarian and you get your protein sources down its fairly easy from that point especially if your eating dairy and eggs.
If your going out to a restaurant, a lot of places have had vegetarian options for decades. Nearly all pizza places have multiple vegetarian pizzas, many burger places have veggie burgers and there are more restaurants popping up (especially on the west coast) that are 100% vegan or vegetarian and don’t serve meat at all.
Pesco-Vegetarian Option and It’s Health Benefits
Another method for those that may find it difficult to stay within the veggie diet is to stick to all vegetarian foods but eat fish as the only meat source. This is called pesco-vegetarian. Where the only meat source is fish. Some of the best benefits other than protein is the omega fatty acids and iron.
For women this may also be helpful because they need to maintain their iron levels from food which would normally come from red meats. Guys, we don’t lose iron unless there is massive blood loss or underlying health issues. Lucky us.
Some people can supplement with iron but it gets dicey. Its very easy to take too much iron when supplementing with it and too much iron build up can lead to a long list of very serious health issues.
Some holistic doctors prefer doing it the “natural way” by taking Vitamin C daily with foods high in iron. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron. So if you decide take iron, please consult a physician before doing so.
Other Important Vitamins for Vegetarians
A critical vitamin that you need as a vegetarian or vegan is B12. Specifically the methylcobalamin form. The ‘methyl’ part is important because it is way more absorbable as an organic compound as opposed to cyanocobalamin (another form of B12) which is a synthetic compound.
The reason vitamin B12 is important is that its needed for critical process in the brain. Without it there a a handful of neurological issues that can develop and some which are considered “irreversible”. So I take methylcobalmin daily. Its water soluble so its really hard to take too much. Often you’ll see 5,000% of your daily value as the dose for this reason. Your body simply gets rid of what it doesn’t need since its water soluble.
So those are the basic health requirements that need to be taken care of as a vegetarian or vegan. Protein sources and methyl B12.
From Vegetarian to Vegan
For those who are really dedicated to this way of healthy eating becoming a vegetarian is a segway to becoming a vegan. The only difference between a vegan and vegetarian is that vegans don’t eat any animal products at all. This includes milk, eggs, cheese and other dairy products that made being a vegetarian easier.
So long as your getting all of your nutrients and vitamins both are very healthy more sustainable ways of eating. Some cultures have had vegetarian diets for thousands of years and they’re doing fine. A great example is southern India where most people are vegetarians. They make vegetarian foods taste amazing.
You now have some decent knowledge to try out being a vegetarian so that you can experience it for yourself. With everything we have available to us it is easier than ever to give the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle a try.
I love you all. Eat good food and have fun doing it.