October is National Vegetarian Month:
Try Incorporating More Veggies Into Your Diet!
by Wendy Beckman, MS, RD, CDN
Vegetarian Month observed in October. World Vegetarian Day was established by the North American Vegetarian Society on October 1st, 1977, and that day has grown into celebrating vegetarianism for a whole month. If you’re a meat eater, now’s the time to give some vegetarian recipes a try!
Vegetarianism is a meal pattern in which no meat is consumed, including beef, poultry, or pork. Vegetarianism can be very flexible. A “lacto ovo” vegetarian consumes dairy products and eggs in addition to fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes. A “pescatarian” follows a vegetarian diet, but also adds fish into their meal plan as well.
A vegetarian diet can benefit our health in many ways:
A vegetarian diet is rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
Diets that are high in fruits, veggies, and other plant-based foods provide some of the most essential nutrients we need.
Eating less meat supports heart health because it helps to lower inflammation in the body. Vegetarian diets are high in dietary fiber. High fiber foods can help us to feel full longer, so plant-based foods can aid in lowering or maintaining body weight.
Cutting out meat may help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Contrary to popular belief, you can still get plenty of protein on a vegetarian diet. If you do it right, a vegetarian diet can meet all of your dietary needs. Lacto ovo vegetarians can get a lot of protein from dairy products and eggs. Pescatarians can get protein from fish. Vegetarians can also get protein from soy products such as edamame, tofu, and soy milk.
Don’t knock it ’til you try it! Make a point to eat less meat this month.To find some yummy vegetarian meals, check out the SNAP-Ed New York web site at www.snapedny.org. Here are a few vegetarian recipes to try.
Hearty Black Bean Soup
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Black Bean Burgers
Bow Tie Pasta with Zucchini Sauce
If you don’t think you can go an entire month without meat, that’s okay. Start out by trying Meatless Mondays, and make a vegetarian meal once a week.
Note: If you want some added incentives, here are a few things to remember. Meat is expensive; experts say vegetarians live longer, and…ice cream AND cheese pizza are vegetarian. Even though I can’t decide if ice cream or pizza is my favorite food, I know that limiting these foods to an occasional treat – even when following a vegetarian diet, is best for my health. Please let us know if you try any of the vegetarian recipes on the SNAP-Ed New York web site!
Wendy Beckman, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 13 years working as a Registered Dietitian in long term care and acute care settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For more information on how to save time, save money and eat healthy, visit www.snapedny.org