After deciding to go on a vegetarian diet two years ago, I have answered my fair share of questions and put to rest concerns from strangers who are worried for my health. Becoming and choosing to maintain a vegetarian life style can be challenging for many reasons. However, if you do it right, it can be so worth it!
Money, Money, Money!
For starters, being a vegetarian can be rather pricey. I found out the hard way that sticking to pasta and cookies was not giving me the proper nutrition that I needed daily. Who would have thought? So I needed to make a change, unfortunately with better-for-you-food, such as buying organic or shopping in the natural section, there comes a higher grocery bill. There are a great deal of delicious vegetarian options in most grocery stores. But, the big packages of vegan chik'n nuggets, and the produce section can be expensive depending on where you are shopping so be prepared to spend a little more money on grocery trips.
Some of my favorite vegetarian brands are:
- Morning Star
- Beyond Meat
What do you eat?
As I said before, there are plenty of vegetarian options in most grocery stores! However, it's really important that you are reading labels and looking for foods that are rich in certain nutrients that you may not be getting. When I am at the grocery store on I am on the hunt for vegetarian replacements rich in these nutrients:
- Protein (protein shakes, beans, yogurt, nuts)
- Iron (spinach, kidney beans, chickpeas)
- Zinc (pumpkin seeds, cashews)
- Vitamin B12 (B12 supplement)
- Calcium (dairy products, broccoli, kale)
- Fatty Acids (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado)
I am a huge advocate for supplements because I truly believe they do help fill nutritional gaps. I have been a vegetarian off and on for four years but I have been steady for the past two and the major difference in my diet now is I implemented supplements. It's hard to find foods that help fill gaps in your nutrition even as a meat eater. So some regular items on my shopping list are: protein shakes that help me achieve my daily amount of protein (and to help me recover from hard work outs), gummy multivitamins, and for the last two years I have been apart of the Le-Vel THRIVE lifestyle community (not sold in the grocery store, click on the link below to learn more). I feel energized all day and I am getting the proper nutrients I need to stay alive! Here are some supplement brands that I have used and trust:
- Le-Vel THRIVE
- Essential Breakfast Shakes
- Vega Protein
So now that I have gone on and on about everything you could be spending money on I want to highlight some of the major benefits of becoming a vegetarian:
- Decrease your chances of heart disease and obesity.
- More energy and a better night of sleep.
- Weight loss
- Although you are just one person, saving animals is also a benefit. Even if American's participated in a nation wide "Meatless Monday" millions of animals could be saved.
- Being a vegetarian can be expensive, but meat is more expensive. When you go out to restaurants your meal is significantly cheaper.
- Save the environment. Plant protein takes doesn't impact the environment as much as raising animals for food (fuel and water).
Now that you have been given a glance of what it's like to be a vegetarian, I hope you can easily make your decision. The most important thing about your diet is catering it to your needs. Being a vegetarian isn't for every one and it may not even be possible for everyone and that's okay. I suggest, if you are seriously considering making a change, doing a lot of research before starting any new diets, consulting a physician or nutritionist, and coming up with a diet plan that best suits your health and lifestyle. Changing your diet can be dangerous if not done correctly, can make you sick or cause you to lose too much weight, and (if you are a woman) can impact your hormones. So, with that being said, make sure you are taking the proper precautions before entering into a new diet plan. Happy shopping!