Last week the headline news on the beef recall prompted a lot of people to question me about my preferred dietary choice of vegetarianism. As a matter of fact, it has stirred up a great deal of interest in the option of avoiding beef, at least for a while. If you think you have to become a tie-dyed, Birkenstock wearing hippie Vegan, don’t despair–you may not have to make such a radical change in your life.
Many people are learning to eat less meat, and more grains, legumes and vegetables, and profiting from the improved nutrition. Eating less meat is good for your health. You will reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer if you follow a vegetarian-eating plan. It is also a tried-and-true form of weight loss. As you cut back on meat, you will be substituting more beans, grains, vegetables and fruits. This means your diet contains fewer calories, less fat and more health promoting fiber, vitamins and minerals.
If you want to explore some beef-less possibilities, start slowly, making substitutions where they seem reasonable to you and your loved ones. Take a look at the meals you already prepare meatless: most breakfasts are fine without a slab of steak. Pasta offers a possibility for vegetable and bean accompaniments. Stir-fry is a good place to get a wide variety of healthy veggies, and who needs the meat? Take your favorite recipes and substitute beans, or mushrooms for the ground beef. Vegetarian chili or burritos are every bit as good without the cows.
Open your horizons by exploring new recipes and new foods. Most of the world has a wealth of meatless favorites. The foods based on beans, grains and vegetables are well worth exploring. Check out Mexican, Indian, or Thai foods for ideas that appeal.
Don’t be extreme. Look for ways to improve your eating, to explore new options, but don’t feel guilty if you fall off the wagon and head for the Sizzler on your birthday.