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Tips for the Vegetarian

February 17, 2016
 vegetarian eating tips

Many of our Veggie Fries fans follow vegetarian or vegan diets. According to Lisa D’Agrosa, M.S., R.D., “Eating a vegan diet can be a healthy way to eat when your meals are full of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You need a well-planned vegan diet to make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients or end up eating only processed vegan foods.”

You can read her full article, 9 Healthy Tips to Help You Start a Vegan Diet at www.eatingwell.com or check out these top favorites of ours pulled from her article (hint: eat lots of veggies, legumes and beans):

Make Vegetables the Stars of Your Meals

People often get hung up on what they can’t have on a plant-based diet, instead of what they can. But a great meal does not have to center on meat. Veggie-packed meals are a winning choice all-around: veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fiber, they can help you feel more satisfied.

Eat a Variety of Foods

To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet, it’s important to eat balanced meals that include a variety of healthy foods. For example, you’ll get protein and fiber from beans; leafy greens are great sources of vitamins A, C and K. Choose produce from all colors of the rainbow to get all the benefits. Red tomatoes have heart-healthy lycopene, blue blueberries have brain-boosting anthocyanins and orange sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A to help keep eyes healthy. Looking for meal ideas? Try a simple well-balanced grain bowl: top brown rice, or quinoa, with beans and a mix of sautéed or roasted veggies.

Discover New Plant-Based Proteins

This seems like a no-brainer if you’re vegan, but one thing everyone can do for better health is eat more plant-based proteins. Animal sources of protein, like meat and cheese, tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fat. (Plus, there are plenty of good environmental reasons to cut out animal sources of food.) Vegan sources of protein really are plentiful and include: tofu, tempeh, edamame (soybeans), lentils, chickpeas and beans. Nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, also deliver protein. Even though many people think it’s difficult for vegans to eat enough protein, it typically isn’t an issue for someone eating a varied diet and consciously including sources of plant-based protein. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 46 grams of protein daily and men 56 grams—an amount that’s pretty easy to reach. Women would meet their daily quota with ½ cup of dry oatmeal (5 grams protein), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams), 1/2 cup of chickpeas (5 grams),1 cup of cooked quinoa (8 grams), 24 almonds (6 grams), 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti (7 grams) and 1/2 cup of tofu (10 grams). Men could add just ½ cup of cooked lentils (9 grams) to meet their daily protein requirement.

Pump Up Your Iron

Animal proteins like meat and chicken are the best sources of iron, which is another nutrient that’s important for vegans to pay attention to. Vegans can still get this mineral from beans, legumes and leafy greens, but iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) isn’t as easily absorbed as it is from meat sources (heme iron). To get the most of plant-based iron, eat iron-rich foods with vitamin-C rich foods, which helps boost absorption, and not at the same time as calcium-rich foods, which can inhibit iron absorption.

 

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