Benefits of a vegetarian/pescetarian diet: My transition to a (mostly) meat-free lifestyle
Lately, I’ve been considering cutting meat out of my diet. After a recent walk home from an indulgent dinner of General Tso’s chicken at a local Chinese restaurant, I realized just how sluggish I felt. Typically, I’m the girl that craves burgers and loves buffalo wings paired with a beer at the bar, but I’ve given up meat and poultry once before and saw real benefits from it. I lost a little weight and felt like I had more energy. So, now I’m ready to make the transition back to a mostly meat-free diet. Allow me to explain what I mean when I say “mostly meat-free.” I’m not opting for strict vegetarianism. I’m leaning toward taking on the pescetarian diet- avoiding red meat and poultry by opting for seafood alternatives instead. I also think placing a ban on all meat could be too tall of an order for me- more on that later.
Ever thought of trying out the vegetarian/pescetarian side of life? There are many benefits from taking the plunge. Cutting down on meat can lower your risk for heart disease by reducing calories, saturated fat and lowering the bad cholesterol in your diet, says the Mayo Clinic. And if you’re into eco-friendliness, you can feel extra good knowing that cutting back on meat can ultimately reduce your carbon footprint, another benefit touted by the Meatless Mondays movement.
I plan to do things a little differently in my second attempt to cut back on meat by actually cooking tasty, healthy vegetarian food instead of just opting for a tuna sandwich. I found a few websites that could be helpful to the vegetarian or pescetarian in the making:
Vegetarian Times- So many recipes and so many tips for the not-so-kitchen savvy (i.e., me). The recipes can be complex, but you can definitely find something with a short list of simple ingredients. They also have recipe sections for people with specific diets, such as dairy-free, gluten-free or low-fat. Even better, they offer a nutrition table on their recipes so you can have an idea of just what you’re eating.
Pinterest can be a fun way to find new recipes. After you’ve created an account, go to the top left and search for the type of diet you’re looking for (I searched under “pescetarian”) and you’ll be able to see other people’s favorite dishes with imbedded links to the recipes. I found this grilled shrimp po-boy recipe on there that I’d like to make in honor of my New Orleans roots.
101 Cookbooks- A friend of mine who likes to cook healthy food suggested this site to me. It’s based on the author, Heidi Swanson’s, collection of over 100 cookbooks featuring recipes with natural and/or whole ingredients. On the site, you can pick out recipes based on a main ingredient or type of dish. I’ll admit, these recipes seem a little adventurous for someone who could just as easily resort to a PB&J sandwich (once again-me), but I gave this Tassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad a shot. Though I’m sure Heidi’s came out better than mine (see photo), I’d re-visit the recipe again to perfect it.
Don’t feel like cooking? Been there. Check out this list of meat-free restaurants in the Boston area from the Globe where a salad isn’t the only meat-free option. I’m a HUGE fan of the Clover Food Lab food trucks.
Afraid of branding yourself a vegetarian? MayoClinic’s discussion on a vegetarian diet also introduced me to taking on the role of a “flexitarian”- someone who mainly eats fruits and veggies, but will occasionally take off the vegetarian hat and have meat, poultry or fish. So, if you find yourself craving some barbeque this summer season, go ahead and indulge. If anyone asks, you’re a flexitarian. That’s what I plan on saying