You may have been reading a lot about the war on Monsanto lately, or hearing about it on the radio, or skimming past it on Facebook…it’s everywhere. Let me preface, that while we are most definitely against GMO, this is not the topic of today’s discussion. All this news has, however, led me to ponder even more about my family’s diet. I say more, because you already know that I am a label reading mother that spends many weekly hours planning and preparing healthy, non-genetically mutated food for my children.
So where am I going then? Here’s a little hint…
Yep…the Vegetarian Diet.
For most of my twenties I was a proud veggie – refusing meat, stuffing my face with way too much pasta, but sleeping well at night. Then I started to date a very cute & very fit athlete. He re-introduced me to my love of competitive exercise and I found myself back in the racing circuit, looking for 2 a day workouts. And while he did eat healthy, he was an occasional meat-eater. It wasn’t necessarily the peer pressure, but I began searching for additional foods that supported my new routine. Soon, chicken and fish were on my plate, but I stood strong on NO meat.
(Fast forward to a marriage and my third pregnancy.) Standing at a summer cookout, burgers sizzling on the grill…I caved. It was like those cartoons where the smell makes its way across the screen, up the person’s nostrils and they float in air to it, like they were fish caught on a rod. I, for one, am racking it up to pregnancy…my daughter must have needed more protein, right? How after all these years did meat suddenly becoming appetizing? Either way, I slowly added meat back in and now here I am, eating it close to once a week (all grass-fed, of course).
I like to believe that timing is everything and things happen for a reason. So, thank you Monsanto, for causing such a stir in the media that, once again, the importance of what we eat and where it comes from has been brought back to my attention. Here we are, working our way back to a more plant based diet and actually excited about it!
Vegetarian, Vegan…what’s the scoop
Vegan: NO animal products (meat, poultry, fish, eggs). Not even honey! Anything that comes from an animal (whether it was harmed or not) is a No No.
Vegetarian: NO meat, NO poultry, NO fish. Mainly fruits,veggies, legumes, grains, seed & nuts.
Lactovegetarian: See vegetarian, but you MAY enjoy dairy!
Ovolactovegetarian: See lactovegetarian, but you MAY also enjoy eggs!
*most vegetarians in the US follow this one
Why you should go veg or at least more veg than you are now
1. Vegetarian diets lower your risk of the following:
Certain Cancers (Colorectal, Breast, Ovarian)
Hypertension (HIgh Blood Pressure)
Why, because they are typically lower in fat and higher in fiber (unless of course you eat cheese and white bread for every meal).
2. Vegetarian diets can be simple, inexpensive and easy to prepare.
-between cookbooks & Pinterest, veggie recipes are a no brainer.
-no animal products means no keeping up with which salmon is the safe one to eat
-rice, veggies, fruit & beans are a whole lot cheaper than filet mignon
-you can grow your meals without needing a pasture and a license
3. Vegetarian foods DO offer a diet full of enough nutrition
Even pregnant…a vegetarian diet is safe (its always beneficial to talk to your provider about what your needs are during pregnancy, making sure your vitamin intake is sufficient)
Protein does not have to come from an animal source. Nut butters, kale, spinach, tofu, quinoa, sprouted-grain bread…the list goes on (and its all yummy).
4. Athletes can’t survive on a vegetarian diet – NICE TRY!
Yes, I did believe this in my younger years, but I obviously didn’t do my homework. There are lots of professional athletes and endurance athletes (I’m talking ultra marathoners and extreme cyclists) that not only survive on a veggie diet, but compete and win! See above list of food examples. (www.mindbodygreen is a good resource)
5. You may actually FEEL BETTER.
-Stomach problems gone or lessened (thank the Fiber for this)
-Feel lighter and cleaner (overall)
-Headaches gone or lessened
-Allergies improved or disappeared (Dairy & Gluten are the most likely culprits)
-More Energy, Better Sleep
-Hair & Nails stronger, healthier
These are the comments made by newly converted vegetarians & individuals who improved their diets with a more veg foods.
6. Lessen your exposure to environmental toxins
One of the reasons you should buy local & grass-fed meat is to avoid hormones. Many commerical farms feed their chickens, cows, pigs…hormones or steroids to speed up growth and milk production. Yes, its true. Which means that you, in turn, are consuming these same hormones and steroids (hello increase cancer risk, among other things!)
So now what do you think? Any of these reasons sound good enough to you?
I won’t promise you that I’m not going to eat my (grass-fed local) burger at the next cookout, but I will tell you that the kale and quinoa will be a’flowin at our house this summer. So I invite you to join me…add more vegetarian options to your repertoire and let us know how your body has thanked you. I’ll keep you posted on our end too!