It can be very confusing making the switch from eating meat to choosing to eat a vegetarian diet. Being a life long vegetarian Ive never had to think too much about finding meat alternatives. There has been no transition for me, although growing up I certainly had a number of adults trying to force feed me meat, concerned I was malnourished and missing out on a vital part of the diet.
Well some news, its not necessary and actually much research shows that people on a vegetarian diet are healthier, in regards to heart health, longevity, obesity, chronic disease, cancer, blood pressure etc. I think many of us have heard the buzz term ‘Plant based diet’, well its actually is very good for us and we are what we eat.
To be clear I am not writing this with the aim to convert, more to offer guidance to people wanting to make healthy switch from meat to vegetarian. I am not a vegan, still enjoy butter, eggs and honey (although do try to purchase from small producers with sustainable farming practices). I do support Vegan eating however am adverse to over processed mock meat alternatives, often devoid of nutrients and challenging to digest. I recommend healthy, vibrant, nutritious foods over highly processed meat imitation. There is so much great food available to choose from.
I am not adverse to others eating meat, however from an ethical perspective I would love to see people;
- Eating less meat. More than 1/2 all meals can easily be vegetarian/plant based.
- Eating all parts of an animal. Leave no scraps.
- Eating ethical, sustainable and organic meat.
- Supporting local, small scale farmers.
- Eating meat killed by a butcher on the land, rather than abattoir.
When making the move to begin eating vegetarian/vegan diet one of the common issues (especially for ethically minded teenage girls) is the overconsumption of carbohydrates including sugar. Usually ones that lack a lot of nutrients eg, pasta, bread, biscuits, chips, rice, opting for the junk food without the meat.
Important when transitioning from meat to a vegetarian diet;
- High protein foods –
- Eggs – avocado – nuts – seeds – cheeses – dips like hommus and pesto – tahini – soya beans, not large quantities as can be difficult to digest (edamame, tempeh, miso, tofu) – good fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil – cashew or almond cheese – diary or coconut yoghurt – legumes and pulses ( chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, lentils, split peas, red lentils, dhals etc) – Quinoa – Hemp Seeds.
- Adding protein to most meals until you adjust, especially in the beginning, However we don’t necessarily need lots of protein. A recommendation is 0.8gms for each 1kg that we weight ie 60kg = 48gms of protein daily.
- Refrain from over consuming too many carbohydrates and sugars.
- Remember that we are different, bio-individual, some may need more protein, some more fat, others more carbohydrates (especially if highly active).
- Add healthy snacks –
Toasted seeds and nuts ie pepitas, sunflower seeds, tamari roasted almonds
Vegetable sticks or crackers with a dip, nut cheese
Rice cake with avocado or nut butter
Boiled edamame with olive oil or butter and salt
Baked tempeh strips with a dip
Bliss balls (see my recipe on previous blog)
Smoothie with almond meal, yoghurt, banana, green powder, hemp seeds etc
Vegetable muffins (grated vegetables mixed with egg, almond meal, little rice flour, herbs and onion and garlic baked in muffin tray)
- Add super foods ie spirulina, green powder, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, coconut or flaxseed oil etc.
- Lots of fruit and vegetable with vitality, ie organic (not necessary but the best).
- Drink plenty of healthy water. Digestion will most likely change with the transition.
- Think about why you are making the change, health, ethics, sustainability, climate change etc. Remember your desire for change and stay healthy throughout.
Above all notice what foods leave you feeling healthy, energised and excited. Follow your intuition as we are all different, and when we tune in, our body will tell us. If this feels overwhelming and challenging then thats where a Health Coach can acts as guide and mentor. I love to inspire and educate others on a path to nutritious and healthy eating. Guidance and inspiration is offered through Healthy Shopping Tours, Cooking Classes and Nutrition Retreats. I am passionate about food and health and I hope you are too (or are becoming so).
Haydie Osborne is dedicated to health and wellbeing. She is passionate about sharing and inspiring wellness. Haydie works as a Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Naturopath.