Food plays an important role in our lives. Food is required to provide us with energy to work, to live, for growth, to play, for metabolism, and for all the processes related to our body.
Being vegetarian always has an edge over the non-vegetarian diet as it has a lot many benefits as compared to non-vegetarian food.
Today there are a lot of people who have adopted a plant-based lifestyle and have found that adopting a vegetarian diet is much better than a non-vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet is not only followed in India but in other countries as well. In recent reports, it has been observed that not only vegetarianism but vegan diet has also gained a lot of popularity over the past few years.
People are taking an interest in what plant-based diets are and searching on the internet to know the benefits of plant-based foods. There are many awareness programs that highlight the importance of being vegetarian and how to start a plant-based diet.
India has got the highest number of vegetarian population. Various surveys and research have stated that approximately 40 percent of the Indian population follows a plant-based diet. India, Switzerland, Taiwan, Israel, and Italy are a few other countries where a significant number of vegetarians live.
A. Benefits of Being Vegetarian
There are uncountable benefits to being vegetarian. Below are a few reasons why we should switch to a vegetarian diet:
1) All the essential nutrients required by the human body to survive and grow can be single-handedly fulfilled by the plant sources.
2) Plant-based diet prevents chronic diseases among humans. It is also favorable for preventing diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes etc.
3) For the preparation of plant foods less fuel is required as compared to animal products. A whole vegetarian meal can be prepared within half to one hour. On the other hand, it takes a couple of hours to prepare animal products.
4) Plant-based diet can easily be digested by our body as it isn’t fatty and contains negligible amounts of cholesterol. So there are fewer chances of heart disease and heart stroke in a person.
5) Plant-based diet is also low on calories so if you want to reduce weight then you can adopt a fully plant-based diet.
6) Most importantly when a person switches to a vegetarian diet they prevent the killing of many innocent animals and birds.
B. Types of Vegetarian Diets
It is easy to distinguish between vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. As mentioned earlier there is a lot of diversity in plant-based food that is beyond imagination.
The plant-based diet can further be divided into the following categories:
A) Vegan Diet
This is a diet that is purely dependent on plant sources and excludes any types of animal products. It doesn’t even include milk or dairy products. Rather they replace cow’s milk or any other animal’s milk with plant-based milk to get sufficient nutrients.
This type of diet is beneficial in case you want to reduce weight and take in sufficient calories and high-quality protein.
B) Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet
As the name suggests this type of diet consists of two components lactose part and ovo i.e. ovum part. Lactose refers to milk and ovum means eggs. This type of diet consists of animal milk ( cow, buffalo, and goat) in addition to plant-based nutrition.
This diet also includes dairy products such as butter, cheese, and curd. Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet is beneficial for preventing type 2 diabetes and controls blood sugar.
C) Lacto-vegetarian Diet
In this type of diet, people consume dairy products but do not eat eggs. This is the type of diet that is followed by a huge number of people all over the world.
This diet is important as it contains milk which is important for our health. Milk provides us with calcium and makes our bones strong.
D) Ovo-vegetarian Diet
This is defined as the type of diet in which a person eats eggs or dishes that use eggs as an ingredient but doesn’t consume any types of dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarian diet can be helpful for people who have weak eyesight or people who are vitamin D deficient.
Eggs are a good source of protein hence people prefer to add eggs to their diet.
C. Perks of Being Vegetarian
1. Uncountable Benefits
From serving as a healthy diet to cutting your costs plant-based diet is enough to fulfill all your nutritional needs alone. It is a budget-friendly diet.
It has been scientifically proven that a plant-based diet eliminates all sorts of health risks keeping you fit and fine both mentally and physically.
Studies have shown that plant-based eaters stay active for a longer period of time during the day.
2. Zero Contribution Towards Carbon Footprint
More plant-based foods as meat alternatives means a healthier environment. From the view of sustainability, we need more plant foods as the waste produced from plant foods is biodegradable in nature and doesn’t cause any harm to the environment.
Contrary to this, animal products generate a lot of waste which is harmful to the environment. These foods have higher greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints. This is one of the major reasons why going vegetarian is gaining a lot of popularity globally.
3. Helps In Reducing Weight
If you are someone who is desperate to lose weight, then vegan diets are perfect for you. This diet is effective in weight loss and is undoubtedly a healthy lifestyle.
Plant based diets are low in fat and mostly contain healthy fats only so you are saved from any type of heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
4. Easy to Digest
Plant-based foods are easy to digest. Plant-based food is also easy to grow and requires less maintenance as compared to animal agriculture. In addition to this, plant foods are easy to cook and can be cooked faster in comparison to animal products.
Transitioning to a plant-based diet can also combat diseases such as constipation, and abdominal pain. Eating fibrous fruits like bananas, and berries and food like whole grains, and brown rice makes it easy to pass the stools.
D. How to Start a Plant-based Diet?
How to start a plant-based diet is still a question for many people. If you are confused about starting a plant-based diet, let us help you with this.
With the right motivation you can achieve all the impossible tasks and adopting plant based lifestyle is just a small thing that can be done that requires no heavy procedures.
It takes time to adopt changes initially but with time you get used to it. You cannot completely quit animal food overnight. It will either take some days or some months. All you need is patience and determination to succeed. So don’t lose your patience and accept the challenges that come your way.
Here are a few suggestions on how to start a plant-based diet in the initial stage:
1) You can start by eating vegetarian food once a day. You can begin with a plant-based breakfast and then increase your plant-based intake gradually. Don’t force yourself into completely switching to plant based eating within a day.
This will be forceful and things that are forced aren’t enjoyed. Accept the change slowly for positive results. You will feel less lethargic once you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
You can add more and more plant-based foods once you get comfortable with the plant based eating.
2) Start with your favourite plant-based meals. When you eat things you love, your interest in a vegetarian diet will develop.
Eat from famous restaurants so you don’t lose your interest as good experience also will draw your attention towards plant based diet and you will be attracted more towards the plant based nutrition.
But make sure whatever you eat is healthy so that you don’t fall ill. Falling ill can put a negative impression on you so don’t make that mistake.
3) If you are a good cook then you can even try making snacks for yourself. This will encourage you to explore more recipes and draw your interest more toward plant-based diet. You can learn these plant based recipes from YouTube channels which show mouth-watering vegetarian dishes that you won’t resist eating.
Experimenting with various recipes will be a fun activity that you will definitely enjoy.
4) Study about the benefits of going vegetarian. When you will learn how healthy vegetarian food is, and its importance in your life, you will definitely get attracted towards healthy eating. And then the question,” how to start a plant based diet” won’t bother you.
5) If you are habitual of eating meat and it isn’t easy to give up animal food, then start with dairy products initially. After a certain period of time, you can try plant based food sources. It isn’t necessary that you start with plants on the first day.
6) Start with adding more plant based foods rather than eliminating animal products: This approach can also be used by people who eat meat on a regular basis. This can be helpful in giving up highly processed foods over a period of time. In this approach you can start by adding stuff like nuts, fruits, vegetables salad, and soup to your regular diet.
7) Replacing ingredients of your dishes instead of the dishes. For example, if you eat burgers and sandwiches or pizza or any such food item then you can consider replacing the nonvegetarian ingredients with vegetarian ones. You can use meat alternatives with some healthy and plant based components.
8) Follow the principle of replacing, reducing, and then eliminating. This technique can be used to efficiently eliminate animal foods from your diet.
Start with replacing nonvegetarian ingredients of your food with plant based components and then reducing your nonvegetarian food consumption and slowly with time completely eliminating the animal products.
9) At times you will feel like giving up when things don’t go as expected. But this is just a part of the process and not the whole process. It would help if you always kept in mind that change has never been easy.
It requires a lot of sacrifices but what is important is that we stick to our decision no matter how difficult it is. With regular efforts and consistency, you will definitely achieve your goal and change your eating habits for the well-being of you as well as your family members.
Transition to a plant-based diet is not a big deal you can do this step by step with constant efforts and patience.
Many great leaders have also supported the concept of vegetarianism. World famous scientist Albert Einstein also wrote “Nothing will benefit and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as the evolution to the vegetarian diet”. Pythagoras, Leo Tolstoy, and Leonardo da Vinci are also examples of people who turned vegetarian and found it to be a good decision.
Nowadays not only in India people from all over the world are trying the plant-based diet neglecting processed foods and have felt that this decision of switching to plant-based eating was a great one. If these people had wasted time thinking about how to start a plant-based diet, they would have never started their journey.
Don’t waste your time thinking about how to start a plant-based diet, if you want to start the plant-based lifestyle then go to some good food from a nearby restaurant, or pick up books or watch videos that have got delicious plant-based recipes and enjoy your journey towards being vegetarian.