Recommendations for Beginning a Vegetarian Diet: Improving your Health and Nutrition through Dietary Changes

Recommendations for Beginning a Vegetarian Diet: Improving your Health and Nutrition through Dietary Changes

With the start of a new year, many Americans are assessing their health and are thinking of making changes in their diet.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these modifications are necessary. They reported in “Vital and Health Statistics” that only 37% of Americans were at a healthy weight, with 35% overweight, and 27% obese.

As dieters begin a new or continuing journey on their way to a healthy weight, vegetarianism is one way to improve, not only body weight, but also bodily health.

“Study after study has shown that a largely plant-based diet, along with lots of whole grains, is the best way to go,” said Vegetarian Resource Group nutrition adviser Reed Mangel to the Physicians Committee for Resposible Medicine (PCRM).

Main Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

The studies that Mangel refers to, including ones conducted by the CDC, have indicated the following to be benefits of a plant-based diet:

  • improved heart health
  • lower blood pressure
  • diabetes control
  • cancer prevention
  • lower risk of kidney stones
  • lower risk of gallstones
  • lower risk of osteoporosis

These studies have also indicated that children benefit from a plant-based diet.

In the American Journal of NursingPatricia Johnston writes in her article, “Getting Enough to Grow On,” that vegetarian diets are “sufficient for children when foods are carefully selected and consideration is given to supplying the necessary nutrients.”

Even with the benefits, each person should consult his or her doctor before making any dietary changes.

Making the Change to a Vegetarian Diet

When you have been cleared by your doctor, you will need to decide how to make the change.

If you are a meat-lover and feel that you will suffer or feel deprived under this new eating plan, then start making the changes slowly. Some people do better with an immediate change, while others do well when change is made at intervals.

If you are a person who likes drastic change, then you will want to download the Vegetarian Starter Kit produced by the PCRM. This booklet is free, and serves as a guide to help you make the change from an animal protein diet to one that uses alternate protein sources.

Even if you would rather ease into the change, the kit would also be beneficial because it provides health information, recipes, and tips.

One way to ease into a vegetarian diet would be to make the change for one, or even two meals a day. This slower change also helps to alleviate the need to waste animal proteins that you may have already purchased.

A New Way of Eating

With each trip to the grocery store, you will gradually restock your food pantry with vegetarian foods, and you will need to discover new recipes to help maintain your new eating habits and reap the health benefits.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition