How to Be a Vegetarian (Vegan) and Lose Weight
First, you must decide what type of vegetarian you want to be. Do you want to ban all meat and dairy (farm produced products) from your diet, cut out only red meats, or cut out all meats and keep dairy? Whatever type of vegetarian you want to be is your choice. Any dietary limitation will be an improvement and help you get healthy and lose weight. Just be sure that whatever vegetarian lifestyle you choose, you can and will stick to it or it won’t be worth the time and effort. See the resource list below for more information on vegetarian living.
A vegetarian lifestyle helps you to lose and maintain weight in two ways…it cuts out the fats of red meats, poultry, and dairy (if that’s the route you choose), and increases energy levels by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. However, because you are choosing to get rid of meats, you’ll need to add more protein to your diet. Protein can come from peanut butter (all natural to reduce fat), tuna fish, and beans. Also, just to be on the safe side and protect your body from losing valuable nutrients from cutting out red meats, be sure to include a daily multivitamin with iron. You can also purchase a Vegan multivitamin geared toward vegetarian diets.
Drinking soy milk is a great way to cut out, or limit, dairy ingestion. Soy milk comes in different flavors and caloric intake including original, vanilla, and light. Vanilla soy milk will add a little sweetness to your meals and tastes great. If you can, try going with the light version which will cut out nearly 30-50 calories every time to drink it over the non-fat version. If you can tolerate the taste, try soy cheeses as well. Some enjoy the taste of soy cheese, others find it repulsing. But you will definitely lose and maintain weight by trying the soy versions of these dairy products. If you don’t wish to cut out dairy from your diets, Laughing Cow makes incredible tasting cheese spreads that are only 35 calories a triangle and can be used on bagels, mixed with tuna fish instead of mayo, and spread on whole wheat crackers for a tasty treat!
Be sure to drink plenty of water as a vegetarian to flush your system of toxins that have built up from eating red meats and dairy. Besides cleansing your body, water is great for filling you up and making you eat less since you feel fuller throughout the day. Another great tip is to drink fruit and vegetable juices (though you want a sugar free version of the fruit juice to continue in your weight loss goals). A great drink to try is V8 Fusion Light. They come in great flavors and give vegetarians the fruits and vegetables they need without increasing your caloric intake (as long as you opt for the light version)
The easiest way to consider a vegetarian lifestyle is to make a list of foods that you eat now. Find out ways to make those foods or meals vegetarian. For example, do you love spaghetti and usually eat it with hamburger? Try exchanging hamburger for eggplant or mushrooms and green peppers. You could even try a veggie version of ground beef. Look for ways that you can create meals from vegetables, fruits, and veggie burgers or fish instead of red meat and chicken. Then, create a grocery list of vegetarian alternatives and go shopping! See the resource list below for a list of vegetarian foods and recipes.
Tips & Warnings:
Think tuna fish, peanut butter, beans, eggs, and soy for protein when giving up red meats and chicken for a vegetarian lifestyle.
Prepare meals ahead of time to save on time for dinner, lunches, and snacks…wash and cut fruits and vegetables in bulk and package in the refrigerator for later…pack lunches for work the night before…this way, you won’t fall off track.
Try exchanging little foods first if you’re nervous about changing all your eating habits…cut out red meats first for a few weeks, then chicken for a few more, then dairy (if that’s your choice).
Don’t assume you can still eat junk food with your new vegetarian lifestyle and still lose weight…you will have to make other changes to your diet as well to keep this healthy way of living and lose the weight you want…try whole wheat breads and pastas, and low fat versions of cheese and yogurt (if you decide to keep dairy in your diet).
Written by jaredsgirl
Mental Health Caseworker/Professional Writer