Do Vegetarian Meals Necessarily Mean Healthier?
People tend to associate a vegetarian diet with a healthy one, involving lots of vegetables as the name suggests. While that is mostly true, the demand for meat replicas and substitutes means more genetically modified (GM) products getting onto supermarket shelves.
Taking meat out of your diet or cutting back does usually mean you will have a healthier diet consisting of more nutrient dense, plant-based foods. Cooking vegetarian will result in having to spend more time on meals and using fresh ingredients or those less processed. Lots of meat products are GM, processed and contain lots of additives and harmful toxins. They can be very high in saturated fat, leading to weight gain and high cholesterol.
It’s easy to believe that all vegetarians will lead a healthy diet including fresh vegetables, beans, legumes and other colourful foods. However there are many vegetarian ready meals and meat substitute products that can cause problems to our health if eaten regularly.
- Products such as veggie burgers and other meat substitutes don’t necessarily contain just vegetables. They can often be highly processed and lose their nutrients. A lot of products out there are made using processed soy, a GMO that has negative health effects on our bodies compared to natural whole soy.
- Ready meals can seem like a good, healthy meat free option to a quick dinner or lunch but they are packed with calories, fats and hardly any nutrients. Options such as vegetable lasagne or spinach and ricotta cannelloni may lead you to believe they are a healthy alternative to meat ready meals, but they can be just as bad. They contain lots of hidden ingredients, some we can’t pronounce and usually a load of cheese!
- Vegetarians aren’t restricted to our favourite junk foods such as chips, crisps or pizzas either, which can be bad news. If you’re ditching the meat from your diet and not replacing it with whole foods that provide you with proteins, vitamins and minerals then you can start to feel sluggish. This deficiency can lead to fatigue, bad digestion and having no energy.
But by choosing to eat real, unprocessed foods with lots of veg, going vegetarian can be a really healthy choice - or just try cutting back on meat a few times a week and replacing it with protein rich plant-based foods!
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