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Today is World Vegetarian Day and October is the International Vegetarian Awareness Month. What fits better than a Vegetarian Month Challenge?

3,6% of the Lifesum users are already eating a vegetarian diet, 4,3% are pescetarians and 1,9% vegans and a quick look at Google trends and it does not take long to understand that vegetarianism is a rapidly rising in popularity.

Before you get started I want to be clear about something. It doesn’t have to be black or white. You don’t have to cut out meat all together and you don’t have to label yourself vegetarian. I’ve been eating 90% vegetarian food for over a year now, some would call my way of eating Flexitarian, I don’t call it anything. I call it eating food.  It started out with my boyfriend (who loves animals more than anything) suggested that he would want to try it out for some time, and I’m always up for some experiments but what happened was that I realized how easy it was.  Easier than I ever could imagine. I believed in all the myths that surrounds eating vegetarian, that it would be time consuming, that I would have to go find weird ingredients in special super food stores, you know, just more difficult in general. But as many others who made “the shift” explains it you tend to become more of an explorer with food, checking out cook books, reading blogs and trying out loads of new things. I’ve never thought of making Indian paneer at home before, neither did I bother making my own falafel but that’s my reality now and I love it. I would lie if I said I don’t put more time into making my food (although that’s nothing that a little planning can’t fix) but I’ve realized is that my meals are so much more delicious and interesting now!

Aha-moments when shifting to a vegetarian diet: 

1. It was almost effortless. Everything I made before I could easily vegetarianize. The simplicity made it quite impossible to argue to go back.

2. Your meals gets so much more diverse now that other ingredients gets the spotlight. Before you just surrounded your meal around the meat, chicken or fish.

3. Eye opening benefits such as always feeling full but still “light” and not sluggish, I rarely get the 3 am slump anymore.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian… What’s the difference?

Vegetarian – You stay away from animal flesh, including poultry and fish.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian – You eat no meat, but consumes dairy (lacto) and eggs (ovo).

Vegan – You skip all animal products including goods that cause suffering to animals. So no dairy, eggs, fur or leather.

Flexitarian – Also called a semi-vegetarian. You put your main focus on plant based foods but allow yourself to eat some meat or fish on occasion.

4 reasons for going eating more vegetarian food

+ 101 other good reasons

1. Better health

– Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer due to less meat and cancer fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants
– Lower cholesterol levels
– Less saturated fat
– Better heart health
– Lower blood pressure
– Higher fiber content. Leads to balanced blood sugar levels. Great for managing diabetes.
– Plant-based diets contain more vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals.
– Better bone health due to less meat and more calcium-rich vegetables.

2. Economics
Save money. Most times the vegetarian alternatives such as legumes or tofu cost a lot less than meat, fish or poultry.

3. Compassion
Save animals. No need to go into details.

4. Combat climate change
Growing produce generates less carbon emissions and uses less water than raising livestock.

What to eat as a vegetarian?

vegetarian-food-groups-001

6 myths about going vegetarian

You won’t get enough protein 

There’s plenty of protein in vegetables, grains and beans. Make sure you have a mix of these different food groups and protein is nothing you need to worry about.

You need to take supplements for all vitamins and minerals

For many vitamins and minerals it’s actually the opposite as you focus more on plant-based foods. A few vitamins that however only exist in animal products are vitamin B12 and vitamin D. If you’re going all in vegetarian you should look for B12 supplements. Vitamin D is a vitamin many people, vegetarians or not could benefit from adding as a supplement. Especially during winter time.

You won’t get enough iron

Myth! Iron exists in many plant based foods as well. Green leafy vegetables and any beans you can think of. They not only provide iron, they’ll also give you a great amount of other essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium. In addition the vegetables contains a good amount of Vitamin C that will increase the Iron absorption.

You eat the same boring food day in and day out

As a vegetarian you eat everything, except one thing – meat. Meat is not the only thing that can be marinated and seasoned until it tastes amazing. The difference is that vegetarians have cracked the code, that you can marinate just about anything and make it taste delish!

As soon as you switch to a vegetarian diet you’ll get healthy

This is a very common misperception. Yes, a vegetarian diet often leads to more fruits and vegetables but you still need to think about whole foods VS processed foods, not having too much sugar, too many fried foods, too much sodium and too much fat etc.

It’s hard

It’s new, it’s not hard! You will learn, really fast but if you start by veganizing your favorite meals you won’t even notice a difference. Then you can move over to making new or more advanced stuff, if you like. When you plan for cooking at home, go to Pinterest, enter ’Simple vegetarian recipes’ or ’5 ingredient vegetarian recipes’ and you’ll have it. My personal recommendation is mix plates. For example you prepare some sweet potato, roast some chick peas and soy beans with chili, have some green leaves, cut some tomatoes and red onions for a salsa. There you go! You have yourself a great vegetarian meal in no time.

vego-challenge-001

/ Lovisa, Nutritionist at Lifesum

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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