Why become a vegetarian?

shutterstock_133977278The more health aware we become, the more we’re exploring different ways of eating. The “eat local” movement is gaining ground. Consumers are eating fewer processed food products. “Clean eating” and “gluten free” are the new buzz words for health consciousness.

There are many reasons consumers are drawn to vegetarianism. Some of us want to live longer and have read the research about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Some want to lead healthier lives; others see it as part of global sustainability. Some people are animal lovers and are ethically opposed to consuming them.

An abundance of scientific research has shown the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Canada’s Food Guide now recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits.

It’s estimated that 70 per cent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.

Given the risk of relying solely on a meat-based diet, adding more vegetables and grains is healthy, smart and relatively easy to do.  Grocery stores are now filled with alternative meat and dairy products such as TOFUTTI soy-based dairy and cheese products.  Restaurants now offer a wide selection of vegetarian-based menu items that taste great – even fast-food establishments.

If you’re just starting to explore this new way of eating, the Internet is a great resource for menus and tips. The library, a bookstore and health food stores have resources as well.

If you need more convincing here are a few more benefits to eating more vegetarian meals.

  • Helps fight against disease. Your Mom was right when she said, “eat your veggies”. Vegetarians eat less animal fat and cholesterol and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce.
  • Keeps your weight down. A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight five years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.
  • Strengthen your bones. Health care practitioners recommend that we increase our intake of calcium through foods. If you avoid dairy altogether, you can still get a healthful dose of calcium from dry beans, tofu, soymilk and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens. If you’re lactose-intolerant try TOFUTTI SOY CHEESE SLICES®, a delicious non-dairy, vegetarian alternative to regular cheese slices.

Make healthy eating choices that support your health and well-being.