The vegetarian way of eating can be a very healthy style of eating. As with any diet, the universal guidelines hold true, make sure that you get plenty of variety, and don't go to any extremes. A vegetarian does not eat any type of meat, no matter what type, even fish. Vegetarians can be divided up further according to how much they do or don't restrict the types of food they eat. Dairy products, such as eggs, are the main part of the lacto-ovo vegetarian's diet but they will not partake of the flesh of animals. A Vegan on the other hand, will avoid all food that has any trace of animal origin.
Vegetarians often wonder how they'll get enough protein because they don't eat meat. Although you might not realize it, the average American actually consumes more protein than is actually required by him. For the lacto-ovo vegetarian, dairy products are an excellent source of protein. But vegan can turn to nuts, seeds and soy products in order to get all the protein they need. Along the lines of beans, there are several to choose from, including green or red lentils, peanuts, split peas, pinto, soy, kidney, and many more. Familiar to most people, are kidney beans, a staple in chili, re-fried beans, used in Mexican cuisine, red beans and rice, a Cajun dish, and pinto beans. Although some beans taste good as they are, others are available with different flavors to help enhance their taste.
You should always eat nuts sparingly, since they have much more fat than beans, even though they have a high amount of protein. By having one cup of cooked beans, you'll get the same amount of protein as eating two ounces of meat. The nutrients of concern for vegans, who avoid all types of animal food, are vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D. Animal meat is the usual source of B12 in the diet of most Americans. In order to achieve an acceptable intake of B12, vitamin B12 supplements or foods should be regularly consumed. Soy and milk products are good examples.
Vegans can find alternative sources of calcium in orange juice or soy milk, both of which are fortified with calcium. In addition, calcium can be found in both leafy greens and beans. Even though it is quite possible to eat a balanced vegetarian diet, vegetarians should also consider their vitamin and calcium intakes and supplement them if necessary. Of course, doing this is imperative to living a healthy lifestyle by consuming healthy food. If you control what you eat, you'll have many years of healthy eating ahead of you.