A Beginners Guide to Vegetarian - All the Basics You Need to Know – Country Life Natural Foods
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A Beginners Guide to Vegetarian - All the Basics You Need to Know

Science keeps on proving that a western diet, with all its animal products and junk food, is more related to lifestyle diseases than any other factor. 
 
And as these findings have surfaced, more and more registered dietitians and food scientists started to recommend a plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian diet over the years for all the benefits it brings.
 
The general population has also caught up. With more information, science, and media at our fingertips, we are becoming more aware of the impact our consumption of animal products has on our bodies and the environment.
 

A Beginners Guide to Vegetarian 

 

There are a few varieties when it comes to the diet. These include:

  • Vegetarian Diet- You would still eat cheese, eggs, and milk, but no meat, such as chicken, pork, and beef.
  • Vegan Diet - You forgo animal products altogether (including milk, cheese, and honey).
  • Plant-based - When you mostly eat raw, wholesome, unprocessed foods such as veggies, fruit, nuts, and legumes. In some cases, people may include a limited amount of animal products.
  • Flexitarian Diet- This diet is more flexible. The aim is to cut down on your meat intake and eat more plant-based foods.

 

Switching to a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based diet is proving to have numerous benefits.

 

 

 

Benefits to cutting out meat and animal products include:

 

  1. It can reduce the risk of major health issues such as:
  2. Heart disease and stroke. Vegetarians may be up to one-third less likely to die or be hospitalized for heart disease. 
  3. Help to fight obesity in children and adults
  4. It may help prevent and treat diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.
  5. Can reduce systolic blood pressure. 
  6.  It may also improve many of the diverse aspects of health, including: Digestion and microbiome diversity, blood cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity, fertility, and weight management (Keep in mind this is the case when consuming healthy foods such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and lots of fruit and veg.)
  7. Provide a viable answer to feeding the world's hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops.
  8. Save animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter in unnatural conditions.
  9. Conserve vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil, and other precious resources. A meat-free diet can cut our water footprint in half! Studies show that a healthy meat-free diet reduces our water footprint by up to 55%
  10. Preserve irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats.
  11. Decrease greenhouse gases that are accelerating global warming.
  12. Mitigate the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture.

 

Switching to a vegetarian diet (or another variation)

Transitioning to a vegetarian or plant-based diet can seem daunting, especially when you've been following a standard Western diet all your life.

But, with a bit of planning and the right mindset, it is doable and easier than you think. 

 

Here's how. 

  • Going cold turkey or transitioning slowly - this decision is all up to you; you know yourself best! But, our advice would be to ease in slowly. Start by going meatless one day a week (Meatless Mondays) and gradually add more days. This will help you get used to the idea, get creative with recipes, and cause less shock to the gut!
  • You could also start with gradually switching out your favorite animal products with alternatives. And adding more veggies and fruits to your meals.
  • Stock up on healthy, wholesome staple ingredients to always have something on hand. 
  • Buy a vegetarian or plant-based recipe book, head to Pinterest for ideas, or take an online course like our Plant-based Cooking course. You will find endless ideas! And then start noting down what the staple ingredients are of most vegetarian recipes. Now you are ready to stock your pantry and fridge! Being prepared and having items on hand will make meal planning and preparing so much easier.
  • Research alternatives for all meat products and how to ensure you will still get all the nutrients you need, such as protein, iron, and vitamin b12. And don't think for a second that you won't be getting enough protein. Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and many grains and veg, provide ample protein! If you eat a great variety of all these, along with healthy grains, veggies, and fruit, all your nutritional needs will be met.
  • You'll find a lot of meat-replacement processed foods, mimicking chicken nuggets, sausages, minced meat, etc. Having a few of these "junk" vegetarian foods on hand will help with those days when you need to grab something quickly or don't feel like cooking. And it will help with the transition into tricking your brain and cravings. But be aware these food items are often heavily processed, full of soy, fat, and sodium. So eat sparingly!
  • Plan your meals in advance and do meal prep weekly or bi-weekly. This way you know what to buy ahead of time and when you have no time to cook something you'll have something on hand. 
  • Inform your family and friends of your new lifestyle choice and what your reasons are for cutting back on meat and animal products. They may disagree, but this makes explaining at the next family dinner or dinner party easier. They may even be accommodating and keep you in mind when preparing the menu. If you know there will be no dish options for you, eat beforehand, take some snacks with you, or just enjoy the meal and moment and give yourself some slack.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself. As time passes, you will notice the changes and how great you feel. Soon, it will be second nature! Just keep on trying your best, and make small changes.

 

 

Alternatives for animal products:

 

Meat: Tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, textured vegetable protein, jackfruit, mushrooms, and beans are all great options.

Not sure how you would meet your protein needs? Here are some of the best protein sources for vegans.

Milk and dairy products: Replace with soy, almond, coconut, hemp, rice, flax, and almond varieties. Try them all until you find your favorite.

Cheese: This may get a bit more tricky, but it is possible to make your own vegan cheese. There are many recipes on the web.

Here's our online class on how to make vegan cheese that's delicious and works great for dips, pasta, and however you please! Alternatively, you can find many processed vegan cheeses in supermarkets. 

Eggs in baking -  Replace 1 egg with 1 tablespoon ground flax meal or chia seeds + 3 tablespoons warm water. Learn more here on how to use butter, milk, and egg substitutes for vegan baking.

 

Plant-Based Cooking Course

 

 

 

At Country Life Natural Foods, we believe eating wholesome, plant-based foods truly cultivates a happy body, mind, and soul.

Whether you eat vegetarian, vegan, or a plant-based diet, we applaud you!

If you are a meat-eater, or a flexitarian, don't shy away, we still love you and respect everyone's choices!

We do, however, hope that we can inspire you to make small changes for your health to significantly impact your quality of life.

We know being healthy and transitioning to plant-based can be hard; that's why we provide the ingredients and tools to make it easier.

If you would like to learn more our Plant-based cooking course might just be what you need!

We'll discuss: 

  • Why we believe a plant-based diet is the way to go.
  • The many health benefits of eating plant-based.
  • All the basics you need to know including:
  • Starter and staple ingredients.
  • How to read labels
  • How to replace meat and dairy to ensure you still get all vital nutrients.

And then, the icing on the cake, step-by-step cooking videos for :

Delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and salad & dressing recipes! 29 recipes in total!

 

Have a look here at our plant-based cooking course. We promise it will be worth your while! 

Our SHOP also has everything you need to get started!

 


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