As a practicing vegetarian of 15 years, I may be a bit biased, but I have to say that if you are looking for an easy way to get antioxidants in your system while keeping your digestive system healthy, vegetarianism is a very good option.
In my posts “Raw Deal” and “You Are What You Eat,” I write about how certain diet changes can really improve the health of your body and your skin. If you are thinking of becoming vegetarian, here are some reasons that may make that decision easier for you.
Fruits and Vegetables (especially when consumed raw) supply age-defying antioxidants. From beta-carotene in carrots and yams to lycopene in tomatoes to bioflavinoids in blueberries to Vitamin C in, well, almost every fruit and veggie. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that can cause cellular damage – and skin aging. *TIP: try to eat locally grown and organic fruits and veggies to get the very highest antioxidant content available!
A healthy vegetarian diet is easier on your digestive tract, making elimination of toxic material easier – so your body won’t be tempted to store it. When your digestive system gets overworked, your skin steps in to help out with detoxification. Your skin is capable of eliminating toxins from your body via your sweat glands (pores). This can lead to breakouts.
Becoming vegetarian can also lower your carbon footprint. It takes a significant toll on our planet to raise livestock for meat products. This issue is debated heavily and I’m not going to go into details, but here are a couple statistics:
Daily water usage in the US for an omnivore is 4,200 Gallons; for a vegetarian: 1,200 gallons, and for a vegan: 300 Gallons…that’s alot of water we can be saving everyday just by our meal choice! Also, a recent study by the United Nations Livestock’s Long Shadow demonstrated that, “raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.” Whoa!
The Protein Dilemma?
Yes, our bodies do need protein to build and keep muscle and regulate certain important functions and balance. But how much protein is needed daily, and what form(s)?
The general rule of thumb for those wishing to get adequate amounts of protein is this:
Take your body weight and multiply by 0.37 = this is the amount of daily protein you need in grams. This equation is slightly different if you are pregnant or bodybuilding (or both.)
For more information on this, click here.
You don’t necessarily need a big steak daily to get this recommended daily amount. There are many vegetarian and vegan sources of protein that are easily digested and heart-healthy:
1 egg – 7-8 grams
1/2 cup cottage cheese – 15 grams
1 cup yogurt – 8-12 grams
1 serving oz. hard cheese – 10 grams
1 serving oz. soft cheese – 6 grams
whey protein powder (this ranges depending on which brand) – 24 grams per scoop
hemp protein powder (this ranges depending on which brand) –
1/2 cup cooked soy beans – 14 grams
1/4 cup almonds – 8 grams
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds – 19 grams
1/4 cup peanuts – 9 grams
1/2 cup cooked beans (black, pinto, red, lentils, etc) – 7-10 grams
In addition to antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, many vegetables contain small amounts of protein, so load up!!
Need inspiration in the kitchen?