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The notion of consuming a plant-based diet for a better planet and overall health grew in popularity during the 1960s. At that time, people mistakenly believed that vegetarians could only get adequate nutrition by consuming a complex combination of grains, nuts, legumes and vegetables every day. Modern health research has since disproved that theory. Today's scientists know that the best way to get all nutrients as a vegetarian is to enjoy a wide variety of plant-based foods every week without worrying too much about following confusing food combinations and nutritional formulas.
1Be open to trying new foods. Vegetarians should keep all options open when choosing which foods to eat. Trying new vegetables, grains and legumes gives opportunities to enjoy unfamiliar foods that can replace and usually exceed the nutritional content of animal-based foods.
2Learn to cook. Healthy vegetarians avoid processed foods. Study vegetarian cookbooks with simple recipes that include a variety of vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and healthy fats. Eating at home lets you control the nutrients you consume.
3Eat a variety of plant-based foods. Most vitamins found in a meat-based diet can be obtained by eating vegetables such as leafy greens, which contain calcium. Consuming different types of vegetables ensures that you're acquiring the different nutrients available in each plant.
- Try consuming at least 9 servings of vegetables and fruits daily for optimal nutrient intake. Consider trying dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes and the most brightly colored vegetables in red, orange and yellow hues.
4Replace meat-based proteins with plant-based proteins. Many meats contain important proteins that are also found in dairy products, fish and eggs, such as Vitamin B-12 and calcium. Vegetarians who eat some animal-based products normally get adequate amounts of proteins. However strict vegans who abstain from all animal products must consume additional plant foods such as tempeh or whole grain-based cereals to ensure adequate vegetarian nutrition.
5Choose healthy convenience foods over low-quality fast food. Reach for unprocessed snack foods and meals when you're rushed. Instead of turning to sugary sweets and fried meals, eat high-fiber foods such as fruit, brown rice crackers and peanut butter. You'll feel full and meet dietary requirements when on the go.
6Consider taking supplements to replace meat-based vitamins. Plant-based diets contain enough nutrition for vegetarians who eat some animal products, but strict vegans may find supplements beneficial if affected by lethargy and a weak immune system. B-12 and zinc supplements can help improve the status of a vegan's health and nutrition status.Advertisement
- Experience new ways of preparing vegetables by eating at ethnic restaurants. Vegetables are the mainstays of diets in less-developed nations. Many types of ethnic cuisine, especially Asian, is filled with a variety of plant foods that naturally meet nutritional needs.
- A plant-based diet can help attain good health but won't guarantee it. For optimal wellness, vegetarians should strive for a lifestyle that includes a diet rich in vegetables and grains, regular physical activity and as few processed foods as possible.
- Don't drink red wine when you eat your meals. There's a chemical in the grape skins that makes it harder for your body to digest the iron.
- The grains give a lot of vitamins.