October in National Vegetarian Month; a chance to look at vegetarian options and food lifestyles, ending with World Vegan Day on November 1. The North American Vegetarian Society started the month-long celebration in 1977 to bring awareness to ethical eating, health, environmental and humanitarian benefits to not eating meat.
Why try being vegetarian? Going vegetarian can have several positive health effects on your body. Vegetarian diets are typically lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Vegetarians typically have lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and various forms of cancer. If you’re looking to make a switch and improve your health, consider becoming a vegetarian. Additionally, there are many advances to food preparation and with the popularity of wheat gluten seitan and soybean tofu, it’s possible to strongly mimic foods when using these meat substitutions. With this month, try some vegetarian recipes. Support vegetarian restaurants and open your taste buds to something new. You may surprise yourself with how easy it can be to try being vegetarian.
Have you heard of Meatless Mondays or #MeatlessMonday? Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future. Started in 2003, it’s part of the Healthy Monday initiative using USDA nutrition guidelines. Beginning your work week without meat can be a clear cut from any bad habits developed over the weekend. It’s been featured in magazines and is a low impact way to introduce a vegetarian diet when taking on a complete change in diet may be unwieldy.
The best part about Meatless Mondays is the impact. When taking a break from eating meat or making a healthy choice at the start of the week, you can reduce your overall impact on the planet and make healthier decisions that can carry on throughout the week. After National Vegetarian Month it’s easy to think about vegetarian options in an accessible way. By sticking to vegetarian choices one day a week (as opposed to an entire month), you will have a large health impact not just on yourself but on the environment too.
As National Vegetarian Month comes to a close, try to be more mindful of the foods you eat and see where you can try reducing or cutting meat out altogether. Give the Meatless Monday challenge a try and see how you do. It might be easier to become vegetarian for a day than you think. Make Meatless Monday your opportunity to be mindful about what you eat and put in your body. Eat too much processed or fried foods? Evaluate when and how often you eat them and see if they can be substituted for fresher fruits or vegetables. You can start small, with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit and work your way from there. What sort of ways are you going to incorporate vegetarian options to help advance your healthy eating habits?
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