Whether you are a full-fledged vegetarian or eat meatless occasionally, plant-based meals offer plenty nutritional benefits. The questions remains, though, is eating vegetarian a foolproof way to improve your family’s health?
Why meatless is becoming mainstream
We constantly hear and read about the correlation between the country’s health crisis and eating too much animal fat and protein. There also has been a slew of really good documentaries on the topic. Forks over Knives, just to name one, examines how a whole food, plant-based diet can prevent, even reverse, degenerative diseases such as cancer or heart disease. What’s more, films like the Oscar-nominated Food, Inc., which lifts the veil on our nations meat industry, can easily spoil your appetite for commercially processed meat products for the rest of your life. Movements like the Meatless Monday campaign are hugely popular across the blogosphere. Healthy eating guru Michael Pollan sums it up in one of his Food Rules: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
We asked ZisBoomBah nutritionist Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD why a vegetarian diet is widely regarded as healthy? “Because, in general, it adds more plant-based foods, which add fiber and antioxidants to your diet. Antioxidants are only found in plant-based foods and not in animal products,” she said. “There are correlations between eating lots of plant-based foods and optimal health. A plant-based diet promotes longevity and lower rates of heart disease and helps prevent cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.”
Nevertheless, before you jump on the vegetarian bandwagon, read on to find out what our nutrition expert wants you to know about the vegetarian lifestyle.
Read our related story: Meatless Mondays and Beyond: How to Turn Your Resident Carnivore into a “Flexitarian”
Vegetarian myths and misconceptions debunked
- Is vegetarian automatically healthy? “No, because if a vegetarian diet is not balanced, it can be unhealthy,” Lisa said.
- Does a vegetarian diet prevent obesity? “No, because if you eat a boatload of pasta, you will gain weight.”
- Is a vegetarian diet less processed? “No. Think about processed soy hot dogs. Tofurky is totally processed. Energy bars that are vegetarian are highly processed as well,” Lisa said.
The real benefits of eating vegetarian
- A vegetarian diet encourages every family member to eat more vegetables, more fruit and more nutrient-rich legumes like lentils, black beans or split peas.
- If you life a vegetarian lifestyle, your family will be less likely to consume trans-fats (mainly in deep fried foods).
- If you do it wisely, you are going to get more fiber, vitamins minerals and more antioxidants compared with the standard American diet.
- On a plant-based diet, you have the potential of getting more omega-3 because you are eating more soy products and dark leafy greens.
At ZisBoomBah, we neither intent to promote a 100% vegetarian lifestyle nor do we condone eating meat. However, if you are interested in choosing a vegetarian lifestyle for your family – whether it is occasionally or 24/7 – we can support you with answers and resources. Please leave your questions for our child health and nutrition experts in the comment section below…
Also, if you are already living a vegetarian lifestyle with kids, we would love to hear from you too in the comment section below! Why did you choose to raise your kids vegetarian? Are school lunches a challenge?
If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in:
- 5 Expert Tips on Feeding Kids Vegetarian
- 4 Hearty Vegetarian Pasta Dinners (Recipes)
- Meatless Mondays and Beyond: How to Turn Your Resident Carnivore into a Flexitarian
- Burgers, Nuggets, Fries – Veggies in Formats Kids Already Love (Products we love and more)