Vegetarian diet continues to gain popularity. There are several reasons to follow a vegetarian diet including health benefits such as the reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Yet some vegetarians rely too much on processed foods which can be high in calories, sugar, fat and sodium. This may lea to them not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods high in calcium, losing the nutrients they provide.
However, with little planning, a vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. The key is knowing your nutritional needs in order to plan a diet to meet them.
Types of vegetarian diets
When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn't include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude:
Lacto-vegetarian diet exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter are included.
Ovo-vegetarian diet exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allows eggs.
Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allows fish.
Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
Growing up, peas, broccoli, and just about anything green made us squirm. As an adult, it's good to know that vegetables don't have to be “the worst” or something you dread eating. Here are some tips to help you make them more interesting.
Bake, don’t boil
While you can boil vegetables, it fills them with water and robs them of flavour. We recommend baking them. Wrap them in baking paper or foil, add a few slices of onion or some chopped garlic and cook in the oven – we recommend uncovering at the end to let the vegetables get a little crispy.
Hummus doesn’t have to be made from chickpeas, and pesto doesn’t have to be made from basil. Take your favourite vegetable, pulse them into a paste, add a little oil and some spices, and you have the perfect dip!
Spice up your life with seasoning
Greens tend to be fairly mild in taste, which makes them perfect for spicing up. Sprinkle some sea salt on top, add a little rosemary or thyme, you can even do things like steam them with chicken stock to fish stock to add subtle flavour.
Slip them into smoothies
Add it to a smoothie: fruit, yoghurt, a dash of honey, and some cauliflower. If you can’t see it, you probably won’t notice it – trick yourself!
Parents will love this one. Can’t bring yourself (or your kids) to eat vegetables? Chop them finely and mix them in with something else. Think rice, bulgur, quinoa, or pasta – you won’t even notice them!
Lift them up with lemon and oil
One of the simplest ways to upgrade your vegetables is to squeeze some lemon juice over them. Lemon immediately adds a freshness to whatever you’re eating and has a way of enhancing the taste. Olive oil is another great way to add some excitement to an otherwise basic plate of vegetables – you can either fry lightly in olive oil or drizzle the oil over steamed vegetables.
Don’t eat your vegetables on the side. That’s a mistake we’ve been making since we were young. Try and think of your greens the way you think of pasta or rice as an accompaniment to the sauce being served. Try chopping up your broccoli and topping it with meat sauce – you won’t even realize you’re eating it!
Crust them up
Adding a crunchy outside to a vegetable is a sure-fire way to guarantee it becomes tastier. Try chopping almonds up finely and crusting chunky slices of zucchini or eggplant – delicious!
Think outside the shape
Just because when you get it, it’s one shape doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Think outside the shape of the vegetable. There’s more than one way to cut broccoli and carrots – experiment with a mandolin or a spiralizer, or try slicing vegetables into chips and roasting them in the oven.
Spicing up your vegetable diet for healthy recipes is easier than you think!