We’re smack bang in the middle of National Vegetarian Week (15th-21st May), which is the perfect excuse to try your hand at making a few more meals without meat. Whether you’re going full veggie or want to try some meat-free days more often, this week is a good time to start.
Not only can a vegetarian diet – or at least a more veggie-based diet – mean you try some different foods and recipes you may not have considered before, it could actually help your health.
Even the biggest meat-lovers might want to start thinking about going at least a little bit veggie, as a plant-based diet can leave you feeling great and even help ward off some serious illnesses. Don’t believe us? Here are some ways that a vegetarian diet is good for you – promise!
More daily fruit and veggies
We’re always being told that we should be eating more fresh fruit and veggies – especially now it turns out the daily target should be ten instead of five – so what better way to do that then base meals around them?
Vegetables include things like pulses and legumes, which tend to be rich in protein – even if you don’t think they taste as good as meat – as well as your usual favourites, which are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Not only does all of this mean you can give yourself a pat on the back for getting more veggies and fruit into your diet, it will help keep your skin bright, stop you feeling so tired and give your body lots of good stuff that it needs on a daily basis.
Looks after your ticker
On average, vegetarian diets contain a lot less cholesterol than those that feature meat, as well as a lot less fat. While there is still cholesterol and fat in things like dairy and eggs, reducing the amount of meat you eat or cutting it out completely will drive down your intake.
Less cholesterol in your blood is a very good thing as it helps cut your risk of heart disease and ensures your ticker stays nice and healthy. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or just want to look after your heart in general, this is a good way to do it.
Reduces the risk of the big C
Our lifestyle is responsible for a fair few types of cancer and changing it up to be healthier is a good way to reduce your risk. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables are the ideal way to help stave off these illnesses as antioxidants help to cut down on free radicals – which aren’t great for you – fibre helps to get rid of things in your food that could promote cancer cell growth and nutrients ensure your immune system is nice and strong.
While a vegetarian diet is no guarantee of skipping this particular health concern, food that is full of fibre and antioxidants – like onions, leeks, sweet potatoes and broccoli – can only be good for your health.
Keeps you regular
The bacteria in your gut is vital for not only keeping you regular, it stops upset stomachs and other issues that can cause pain and discomfort. To keep this bacteria working, you need to be topping it up regularly, which is what fruit and vegetables do.
Foods that are plant-based are full of so many good bacteria that help diversify the environment in your gut and generally just promote gut health. You’ve probably noticed previously that not getting enough veggies causes some issues, so a vegetarian diet will help you skip that being a problem.
We all tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to food. A lot of us will keep going back to the same types of meals time and time again, meaning our diet isn’t particularly varied. While it can be comforting to have Tuesday fajitas and fish on a Friday, having days that are entirely vegetarian or adopting this diet completely can help you start experimenting with food.
There are so many great vegetarian meals, meat alternatives and ways of cooking to try that even Meat-Free Mondays will probably leave you a bit surprised. Even eating vegetarian at restaurants is so much easier nowadays and there’s a lot more on offer than mushroom risotto or vegetable lasagne.
You’re sure to find some new favourites and maybe even help convince other people that the vegetarian diet is the way forward.