When I came home and informed my mom of my new lifestyle choice (thinking it would only last for 40 days), her response was “I think the idea is that you give up something that is difficult for you to do without.” Needless to say, I was never a big fan of meat, and my mom spent the next four years trying her best to make sure I was getting enough of the essential nutrients I needed to keep me energized for school and soccer. She did the best she could with the information she had, but it was a lot of repeated dishes and bagels with cream cheese.
I’d like to point out a few pitfalls that I discovered when I look back at the beginning of my vegetarian journey:
1- Vegetarian is not synonymous with healthy. Because of the lack of animal protein, there is a tendency for vegetarians to overcompensate with refined carbs, dairy, and processed soy products that are not efficient for our bodies.
2- Like any restrictive eating, vegetarians often become bored and get into a rut with their meals, triggering poor food decisions.
3- There is a misconception that vegetarian food is bland. This tends to leave our beautiful veggies doused in an assortment of high sodium, high fat, and low nutrient condiments.
Recently, I’ve had numerous clients inquiring about vegetarianism. There seems to be a trending number of people who understand the health benefits of such a lifestyle, but are not sure how to incorporate it into their daily lives. They feel like it’s all or nothing. Meat or no meat. I want to discuss, for a minute, the concept of a “flexitarian”. This word describes the idea that we don’t have to pigeonhole ourselves into one exclusive diet, but instead appreciate the benefits of various food groups. Ideally, it’s most healthful to rely primarily on a plant-based diet, while occasionally incorporating animal products into our meals.
Personally, I eat a predominantly vegetarian diet with lots of organic eggs, limited fish/seafood, and the occasional dairy product thrown in the mix. After years of experimenting with a variety of foods, I have found that this works best for my body. Keep in mind that every BODY is different, and thus has different needs. Be honest with yourself about what makes you feel the best, which may not necessarily be the same as what you crave.
Now, as a nutritionist, I have learned how to create balanced plant-based meals that utilize the whole spectrum of vegetarian foods, while helping to maintain energy and satisfy hunger. My goal is to begin to teach you how to use simple ingredients to make healthy and flavorful plant-based food that can be enjoyed by vegetarians and non-vegetarians, alike.