Interested in what a vegetarian diet is all about, but not sure where to start? This is a great handout on starting a vegetarian diet (click here for the Vegetarian Starter Kit). It is an enjoyable read and gives some ideas for taking the first steps to a vegetarian lifestyle. If making the switch is too much right now, consider Meatless Mondays, where you eat vegetarian just for the day. It is great way to ease into the lifestyle change. Still need more information? A great book for those science minded people out there is The China Study.
The research is clear that a vegetarian diet is the best for a healthy heart, preventing chronic disease and for preventing cancer. It is ironic though because at SCNM (where I went to naturopathic medical school) an animal protein diet was really emphasized. I think we learn the most once we leave school because then we actually have the time and brain power to not just believe everything we were told but to do the research and form our own opinions. That being said, it is really, really easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian…trust me, I have been there. And often people simply substitute meat for a soy/wheat processed food that resembles meat. For example, tofurkey or tofu bacon or tofu chicken. The problem is that it is processed, therefore the risk for cancer increases from all the chemicals they have to add to tofu to make it taste like chicken. Not to mention the ongoing debate on soy, does it prevent cancer or cause cancer? This is not just for vegetarians, start reading the labels on things in your kitchen pantry and you will be shocked that just about everything has soy in it. But don’t take my word for it, do some research for yourself and come up with your own opinion. But the basics are key, whole, fresh foods, are best!