Did your mama tell you to “eat your veggies”? She knew what she was talking about. Studies have shown that there are possible connections between a plant-based diet and maintaining good health.
Vegetarians typically consume more vitamin E, C, folic acid, potassium, calcium, fiber and phytochemicals, resulting in lower cholesterol levels, BMI and blood pressure. Vegetarians also obtain more antioxidant levels of A, B2, beta-carotene and folate as well as fiber through their higher consumption of fruits, vegetables and multi-grains. Though 25-38 grams of fiber per day is recommended, the typical American consumes only 12-15 grams. For example, a pound of beef contains zero grams of fiber, but just one cup of lentils has 16 grams.
Even if you choose not to be a complete vegetarian, there are several diets that are plant-based. In descending order of number of food types allowed:
- Semi-Vegetarian or Flexitarian diets include dairy foods, eggs and small amounts of meat, poultry, fish or other seafood.
- Pescatarian diets include dairy foods, eggs, fish and seafood, but no meat or poultry.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian diets include dairy foods and eggs.
- Vegan diets are the most limiting, as no animal products of any kind are allowed, and you obtain protein only from grains, beans, nuts, seeds and certain plants—just like vegetarian animals.
Improving health is only one facet of eating more vegetarian meals. You can save money, too. Eating vegetables, grains and fruit in place of the roughly 250 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each non-vegetarian in the U.S. eats annually could cut individual food bills by an average $4,000 per year.
In the U.S., 10 billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year. Most are factory-farmed and fed a diet tainted with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Cattle are corn-fed (instead of grass fed) to fatten them up. Raising these animals strains environmental resources and may be unsustainable over the long term. Beef in particular is known for being challenging to the environment, because of the large amount of feed required and the methane produced.
Whether you cut out meat once a week (as in Meatless Monday) or take on an Active Wellness challenge and go vegetarian for a week or month at a time, you’ll not only be helping the world go green, you’ll be helping yourself and your pocketbook! And with Kenzen Vital Balance www.nikken.com/na/elaineconnelly, you never need to worry about getting enough plant-based protein!