So you think you can be a vegetarian?

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Well, well, well, look at you! Interested in what it takes to become a vegetarian? Before I tell you all about it, let me first say that eating the right kinds of meats and dairy products will keep you just as, if not more healthy, than a vegetarian. But, for those of you wanting to avoid meats, here’s a glimpse of the vegetarian lifestyle.

First of all, a vegetarian diet is often low in fat and cholesterol, which is always a good thing. While vegetarians avoid eating meat, poultry (chickens), and fish, some eat eggs and milk products. There’s a few, though, that also skip eggs, but allow themselves to eat dairy.

asian dishNow, the biggest thing you’ll notice is that without meat, it’s harder to find protein. Meat protein is especially powerful because it has all the best “amino acids” that the body needs. So, what’s a vegetarian to do? Well, fortunately, if they eat a wide variety of seeds, grains, nuts, and beans, they can get a solid amount of proteins. Also, if you don’t want any dairy products that come from a cow, soy is an alternate source of protein. As far as milk, besides soy, you can also try a cold glass of delicious almond milk.

For cooking, some delicious meals can be made by stuffing bell peppers with veggies, rice, and beans. Or, say you’re feeling like an omelet for breakfast. Just whip up some eggs, carrots, spinach, and mushrooms! Interested in replacing the chicken on your dish? Try some eggplant. Want something warm? Try a spicy bowl of chili with tofu instead of beef.  Want a burger without the cow? Throw some portabella mushrooms on whole-wheat buns, topping it with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Some markets even sell something called a “veggie burger” which already contains a blend of vegetables, grains, and soy without the meat.

Now, while vegetarian diets have some bonuses, like reducing your chance of getting diseases like diabetes and cancer, there’s also some dangers. Without meat and a well-rounded diet, some vegetarians might not get enough healthy minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Best way to avoid becoming unhealthy, especially if you’re a vegetarian kid still growing up? Have plenty of nuts, peanut butter, avocado, milk products, and eggs. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this helpful collection of vegetarian tips.