Finding delicious food for vegetarians isn’t always easy.
There are more reasons to go vegetarian than one person can name. The state of the meat-production industry is bad and getting edible meat is starting to get pretty expensive. There’s also heart disease to consider, which is affecting Americans at an alarming rate.
You might think that becoming a vegetarian will make you healthy, but a balanced diet is still crucial to giving your body the proper nutrients it needs to operate. You need protein, iron, vitamin D, zinc, and calcium in your diet and removing meat drastically lowers the amount of those things that you get.
In this post, we’re going to go over 7 food options for vegetarians that will not only give you the nutrients that meat does but also make you forget about eating meat altogether. The best part about this stuff is that they’re cheap and easy to make.
Get your reusable grocery bags ready, it’s time to shop.
The Best Food for Vegetarians
Whatever you do, don’t replace your meat consumption with fake meats. There are a lot of fake lunch meats, burgers, and poultry out there, but often they are of dubious nutritional value. Instead, focus on filling your diet with the following, which are both delicious and nutritious.
1. Nuts & Dried Fruit
Dried apricots, mangos, pineapple, dates, cherries, and cranberries are extremely tasty, but they’ll also account for the lack of iron in your meatless diet. Pair them with almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, and Brazil nuts and you’ll have a snack that’s high in protein and iron, the two main nutrients that meat gives you.
You’ll also get a healthy dose of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids from some nuts. Specifically, almonds are great for heart health and fill you up without eating too many of them.
A bag of self-made trail mix is a must-have for any vegetarian that likes to snack throughout the day. You can also use dried fruits on salads and in some really great Moroccan recipes.
Lentils are going to beef up any veggie-centric meal that you make. They’re another great source of protein and contain twice as much iron as beans and other legumes. Lentils are a great meat substitute for a brand new vegetarian that has an active lifestyle.
You can use them as the base for a hearty pasta dish, use them to make veggie meatballs, in curries, and (of course) in lentil soups and stews. They’re a bit bland on their own, but they will give you an exceptional meal when seasoned or paired with the right veggies.
Grains are a constant in vegetarianism because they’ll be the side or bed for many of your dishes. They’re high in B vitamins, zinc, and fiber, which is very important for digestion and keeping cholesterol low.
There are grains for every meal. Whole grain cereals can sometimes be enriched with a full day’s worth of B-12, so going the fruit/cereal/yogurt route is a good option in the morning.
Grains can be extremely boring if you eat the same kinds all the time, so switch it up often. Cereals some days, ancient grain bread for sandwiches the next. You’ve got lots of options.
The beauty of tofu is that it works as a meat replacement in most recipes, so you don’t actually have to change how you eat. Smoked tofu is delicious, but plain tofu will have a lot of nutrition in it; namely, omega-3 fatty acids (to lower cholesterol), zinc, protein, and iron.
You’ll get a lot of calcium, so tofu is almost a necessity if you’ve gone vegan. Cube it and put it in a stir fry, but get the firm stuff so that it doesn’t crumble apart.
You can be extremely versatile with beans, as well. A cup of beans per day gives you a good chunk of your protein, as well as iron, and half of your daily fiber. There are wide varieties of beans that all accomplish different culinary goals, so you’ll never get tired of them.
Mix some red kidney beans in with your wild rice to make a great side dish. Or make a veggie chili with a few different cans of beans and tons of vegetables. There are also loads of great bean burrito recipes online, some of which will make enough for you to have lunches for the whole week.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli are an incredible source of iron, antioxidants, folic acid, and vitamin A. You should always eat your dark, leafy greens with things that are high in vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron. A salad with a spinach or kale base and lots of peppers, tomatoes, and any citrus will work. Put some almonds on top to fill you up and give you a good amount of protein as well.
7. Lots of Fruit and Vegetables
Lastly, you’ll be eating lots of fruits and vegetables when you go vegetarian, so get comfortable with your produce intake. Make sure to get creative with recipes so that you’re not eating the same thing over and over.
You can make smoothies with leafy greens, tons of fruit, and other veggies to take to work with you. Veggie pasta with whole-grain spaghetti is a really quick meal to make when you’re short on time and you can utilize different vegetables.
There are tons of great vegetarian cookbooks available that have innovative and tasty recipes, so pick up a few today and get cooking.
Never Look Back
As long as you include all of these foods, your body won’t miss the meat. Getting the right nutrients is the easy part for vegetarians, but making fresh recipes when you might not always have time for it will be tougher.
When you become a vegetarian, you’re thrusting yourself into the role of the chef because you’ve got to figure out what you really like. Once you do, though, you’ll never look back.
If you found this article helpful, come back and visit I’m Centered for more informative posts about yoga, meditation, and healthy vegetarian eating.