October 1st is World Vegetarian Day and if you or someone in your family is considering making the switch to a vegetarian diet, it’s important to get all the facts about this important lifestyle decision. First and foremost, a well planned vegetarian diet is a healthy diet that does provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs. The key is making sure that you supplement new foods that will provide specific nutrients you would normally get from eating other foods (i.e. meat). For example, beans, seeds, nuts and tofu are ideal sources of protein that one would normally get from eating meat. Depending on how restrictive a diet you have, depends on how much more planning you must do to ensure you’re getting all the nutrition your body requires.
In terms of restrictive diets, there are different types of vegetarians. All vegetarians eat vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, seeds and beans, but some do not eat some or any animal products. Here is a list of the different types and what they will eat:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian – will eat dairy and egg products.
- Lacto vegetarian – will eat dairy products, but not eggs.
- Ovo vegetarian – will eat eggs, but no dairy products.
- Pesci vegetarian – will eat fish.
- Semi vegetarian – will eat fish and poultry.
- Vegan – will only eat food from plant sources, no eggs, dairy products or honey.
Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has more information about vegetarian diets and the “at-risk” nutrients you should pay attention to when planning your diet.
Cooking vegetarian dishes doesn’t have to be boring either! There are plenty of delicious recipes available and many that are quite popular. Just think of some common entrees like Pasta Primavera, Veggie Stir Fry over Brown Rice or Spinach Lasagna. Here is a great recipe from The Mushroom Channel for Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Tacos. This recipe is part of their Meatless Monday campaign and it’s perfect for a weeknight–simple and easy to make. Plus, everyone loves tacos!
If you’re looking for something a little more decadent, maybe worthy of Sunday dinner, try this recipe for Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter. In addition to the butternut squash, the shells are stuffed with ricotta cheese and fresh spinach.
Even if you’re not looking to move your diet to a completely vegetarian one, try working in a meatless meal once or twice a week. There are plenty of tasty options to choose and as an added bonus you may even see your grocery bill shrink a bit!