For some new vegetarians and vegans, staying healthy can be a challenge. That’s not because of anything about veganism, but rather is simply because changing habits takes time and effort. With that in mind, the USDA has provided a list of ideas to help people who are unfamiliar with a healthy vegan diet. These ideas are perfect for anyone who is transitioning or thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Tips from the USDA on how to eat a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet:
Build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and rice. Don’t overload meals with high-fat cheeses to replace the meat. Calcium-fortified soymilk provides calcium in amounts similar to milk. It is usually low in fat and does not contain cholesterol. Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Consider:
- pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
- veggie pizza
- vegetable lasagna
- tofu-vegetable stir fry
- vegetable lo mein
- vegetable kabobs
- bean burritos or tacos
A variety of vegetarian products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.
- For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links.
- Rather than hamburgers, try veggie burgers. A variety of kinds are available, made with soy beans, vegetables, and/or rice.
- Add vegetarian meat substitutes to soups and stews to boost protein without adding saturated fat or cholesterol. These include tempeh (cultured soybeans with a chewy texture), tofu, or wheat gluten (seitan).
- For barbecues, try veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh, and veggie kabobs.
- Make bean burgers, lentil burgers, or pita halves with falafel (spicy ground chick pea patties).
- Some restaurants offer soy options (texturized vegetable protein) as a substitute for meat, and soy cheese as a substitute for regular cheese.
Most restaurants can accommodate vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat from stir-fries, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order. Many Asian and Indian restaurants offer a varied selection of vegetarian dishes.
Here is a link to the USDA webpage that this list comes from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-tips/tips-for-vegetarian.html Please share it with your loved ones and help everyone make kind, healthy food choices!