Eating a vegetarian diet isn’t nearly as uncommon as it once was with many people making the switch due to its association with improved health outcomes including lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Research has shown that vegetarians tend to consume a lower proportion of calories from saturated fat and fewer overall calories, more fibre, potassium and vitamin C than non-vegetarians. With just a little planning, many people including myself have found that a vegetarian diet can comfortably meet all your nutritional needs and then some! Find out more in 10-Year Veggie: My Story So Far…
How did I become a vegetarian?
It all started just over 10 years ago. I’d never been a true meat-lover but one day I woke up and thought to myself: “Actually, from this moment on I don’t want to eat meat anymore!” And so I didn’t.
My Veggie Story: The perfect diet?
I can’t say my diet is perfect. If I want to eat chocolate, I’m going to eat chocolate! Moderation is key. But it is a lot better than it used to be – and I’m not just talking about my pre-vegetarian days. One year into being veggie, I had frequent bouts of feeling faint alongside very low energy levels. A blood test revealed that I was anaemic and was informed by doctors that this was owing to low iron and vitamin B12 levels. Unsurprisingly, my diet consisting of mostly white carbs – mostly pizza and pasta – inevitably took its toll.
I started educating myself on nutrition by watching documentaries and reading books and blogs. After just a few days of adding whole foods such as beans, pulses and green leafy vegetables into my diet my energy levels transformed overnight. It was at this point that I made the connection between the food we eat, our physical appearance and how we actually feel within ourselves. Nine years on, and three years into studying a degree in nutrition, I truly believe that nutrition has the power not only to maintain health, but to even restore it in those whose health has broken down in some way – as it had for me.
In my own experience, the true benefits of a vegetarian diet are experienced not in what you take out of the diet (ie. meat) but what you add in place of it. To get the most out of a vegetarian diet, you must include a variety of healthy plant-based foods, such as whole fruit, legumes and nuts, and whole grains. Since I have done this, I’ve never felt better and my energy levels are better than they’ve ever been (despite not getting any younger)! Although I don’t weigh myself, I have noticed that I’ve certainly been able to keep weight off more easily than when I ate meat.