October is Vegetarian Awareness Month.
October 1st is World Vegetarian Day and November 1st is World Vegan Day.
That has me thinking about all the things that people ask me about eating a vegan diet. What surprises me is how hard most people think it will be and then how surprised they are when it turns out to be pretty simple.
The hardest part is changing. We are notoriously bad at change
Why be a vegetarian?
In September 1995, the man and I decided to stop eating meat. We thought it would be healthier. Then in December 2003, we stopped eating dairy and eggs. At first, it was for health reasons, now it is so much more. By the way, October 1st is also Day of the Older Person and if you want to be a healthy older person you should consider eliminating animal products from your diet.
Vegetarians by definition don’t eat animal products although lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy and eggs. You can now identify yourself as a flexitarian, reducetarian, vegetarian. All come with some limits on how much and what type of food you will eat.
What are the benefits? Vegetarians tend to live longer than meat eaters have lower cholesterol, blood pressure, fewer cancers, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but they can still have high cholesterol if they regularly eat dairy and eggs, they can have similar risks of cancer with dairy and eggs, they are healthier, but not as healthy as vegans.
When researchers rate the diets of the longest-lived populations, the Mediterranean, Blue Zone, Adventist diets, the healthiest people ate the most plant-based foods. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans. The primary benefits are due to their intake of plants. Not olive oil, but olives. Not wine, but fruit. Not fish, but nuts and beans. When rating diets for vegetables, processed or not, healthy foods or not, vs any type animal products, the vegetable diet wins out every time. There is a 40% drop in mortality. This is not insignificant.
This seems like a good enough reason to be a vegetarian. But, like I said we are really bad at change. For World Vegetarian Month I am going to try and make this change easier. First, anytime you eat more vegetables you improve your health. Second, eating more vegetables doesn’t simply mean eating more salads. Third, you can see an improvement at any age.
What can I eat?
What could you eat instead of animal products? There are so many options it just takes a little practice to find out what works best for you. For World Vegetarian Month I am going to post at least 21 new recipes on my website to help you eat a plant-based diet to improve your health. Here are the first three. Great for breakfast or snacks. I make all of these regularly.
Don’t forget about another great resource, our book club, and the first book, How Not to Die, you will get lots of great ideas about why and how eating more plants is easy and nutritious. We meet on October 16th and you don’t even need to read the book.
There are so many easy ways to improve your diet, and with diet being the #1 cause of death and disability in North America. It is also a perfect time to consider making some changes.
Change your mind, change your health,
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