Vegetarian Diet – always healthy?
It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve told you that any diet can be done well or badly – no diet is inherently healthy, it’s all about the choices you make within the rules or guidance that define the lifestyle. The vegetarian diet is no different, and we know from our own experience of analyzing vegetarian snacks that just because it says vegetarian on the outside it doesn’t mean it’s healthy on the inside.
We found this infographic on the Friends Eat blog and liked it because it highlights how foods that aren’t particularly healthy qualify as vegetarian. It’s not that different in principle to what we’ve written about previously – foods can advertise themselves as ‘light’ version but all that means is they have less calories or fat, it doesn’t mean they actually contain ingredients that may confer particular health benefits.
So how do you decide what’s healthy? Here are a few simple rules to help you work it out.
1. Eat raw – if you’re able to eat something raw (which means you don’t have to cook it, and it wasn’t cooked in any way before it go to you) it’s probably going to contain ingredients in a form that is pretty close to how you’d find them in nature. And the closer a food is to how you’d find it in nature, the more likely it is that its vitamin and mineral (and thus nutritional) benefits have been maintained.
2. Cook – the only way you’ll ever know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating is to cook it from scratch yourself. We’re now supporting Veggie Runners who share some tasty easy recipes for vegetarian cooking on their website
3. Look at the label – it’s not the first time we’ve said this either, but if you want to know what’s in your food, you have to learn how to read the labels. The ingredients list will tell you a lot – are there added refined sugars, preservative and other chemicals you wouldn’t use in your own kitchen, and are there ingredients like gluten or maybe dairy products you wouldn’t expect to find that sneak their way in?
If you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle there are many potential pitfalls to look out for. Focussing on eating meals and healthy snacks that are based on simple ingredients like dried fruits, nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables will help you comply with your principles and eat healthy.
The Nutribox only ever contains vegetarian snacks, but we now offer a box with only vegan snacks too. To find out more click here