What do vegetarians eat? This is one of the most asked questions we get when people find out we are vegetarians.
If you've ever been asked this by a meat eating friend or family member, you probably noticed there is more of an emphasis on what you don't eat rather than what you do.
They just can't seem to fathom how you get your protein if you don't eat meat, no matter how many different ways there are to obtain plant based proteins. It's either "not quality protein" or "it's just not the same".
Well, they've certainly got that part right. It isn't the same at all. Plant based protein is much healthier for you than animal protein, and it's a whole lot easier on your digestive system too.
What most people don't realize is that when you exclude meat from your diet you start enjoying everything else a whole lot more. That said... let's get on to answering your question: What do vegetarians eat?
The answer to that question depends on what diet limitations you have, as there are several practiced forms of vegetarianism.
In short, lots of things. You would be surprised how many of the foods you already eat are considered vegetarian. To state the obvious... a variety of fruits and vegetables.
What do vegetarians eat for protein? Beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and tofu to name a few. In addition to that, whole grains are a large part of a healthy vegetarian diet, and, depending on the vegetarian... egg and/or dairy substitutes.
Other foods you may not have considered are the readily available pre-packaged foods that you can now find in most local grocery stores.
For instance, frozen veggie patties are available in all varieties as well as chik'n patties that taste great on sandwiches and in salads, frozen entrees of all varieties, ground beef style soy crumbles that are perfect for making chili and other hearty dishes, tofu... the list goes on.
You are truly limited only by your imagination and the diet restrictions you choose to live by. What type of diet restrictions? That depends on the type of vegetarian.
There are more than a few variations of the vegetarian diet, so I've included a brief overview of the different types of vegetarians below to help you better understand what is and is not consumed on specific vegetarian diets.
For the sake of keeping it simple, I excluded any that allow for even the rare consumption of meat, fish, poultry and/or seafood.
In essence, yes. A meat-free diet is much healthier than one packed full of animal flesh and cholesterol. However, it can be just as unhealthy if you take into account, the plethora of junk foods that are technically considered vegetarian.
A healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet consists of a wide variety of whole, unrefined foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Eat a wide variety from each food group to balance your diet. It's as simple as that. This the best way to ensure you are getting all the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy (and burn calories).
On the other hand, if you choose to feed your body with only highly processed, pre-packaged convenience foods that fall within your meat-free diet restrictions, you could become about as unhealthy as a vegetarian can be.
Being a vegetarian, you learn quickly that you have to pay attention to the ingredients in everything you eat. You would be surprised how may pre-packaged foods contain animal products and other highly processed ingredients that offer no nutritional value to you whatsoever.
By cutting out products that contain animal fats and other by-products we have cut out a lot of highly processed foods from our diet. Sure we still eat convenience foods from time to time, but we are very selective with the ones we choose.
Instead we focus on eating healthier, unrefined food that provides essential vitamins and nutrients we need, which has made a huge impact on the way our bodies function as well as the way we feel on a day to day basis.
To give you an idea of what we eat on a day to day basis I've included some meal ideas and recipes for some of our favorites below.
Some of these are inspired by recipes I used to make before we stopped eating meat, some are complements of friends and family and the rest are a mash up of whole or partial recipes I thought sounded good with lots of our favorite ingredients added or substituted in.
I hope enjoy these recipes as much as we do, and that they help to inspire your future vegetarian creations too. Don't be afraid to play with your food before you eat it! That's how the magic happens.
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