Oscar nominee Natalie Portman has been a strict vegetarian her whole life and strongly believes in animal rights. Being a vegetarian involves following a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts and seeds, with or without dairy products or eggs. Vegetarians do not eat meat products such as game, poultry or seafood.
Below are five ways vegetarianism can improve your health, as well as a shopping list for realistic breakfast and mid-day foods and snack options for nurses that can be picked up in one trip to the store.
1. Adopt a leaner lifestyle.
Researchers have learned that, on average, vegetarians are up to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. Even if you don’t go full-vegetarian, incorporating a meatless Monday into your week is a positive step in reducing your weight.
2. Up your intake of nutrients
Easing up on meat has a plethora of health benefits. A well-planned vegetarian diet is full of nutrients your body needs without the saturated fats and cholesterol that contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, strokes and several types of cancer.
3. Lower your blood pressure.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) states that vegetarians and vegans enjoy a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension. With a high-paced, stress-inducing job like nursing, a healthy diet that supports your cardiovascular health is vital to your longevity as a nurse.
4. Lose weight like a star.
In order to achieve her svelte figure for her role as a prima ballerina in Black Swan, Natalie Portman confessed to People magazine that she didn’t cut out any foods. She just opted for smaller portions. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, start by looking at your portion sizes. Cutting your portion sizes down is perhaps the easiest change you can make to your meals. Try substituting high-calorie protein sources like mayonnaise-rich tuna salad with prepackaged flavored tofu, beans or lentils. These alternatives can easily be swapped in to add substance to a mid-day or dinner salad.
5. Create a cleaner environment.
The meat industry contributes to pollution, waste and global warming. Paul McCartney famously said, “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat.” By adopting a meat-free lifestyle, you set an example and influence those around you to also improve their health. A change that can make the world a better place.
On-the-Go Vegetarian Breakfast Ideas
Take five minutes to get these options together and eat them in the car:
- Nature Valley Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola Bar and a banana
- Soy milk smoothie and an unfrosted Pop-Tart
- Amy’s frozen Tofu Scramble in a Pocket Sandwich
- Amy’s frozen Breakfast Burrito
Frozen Meals for Mid-day and Dinner
- Amy’s Thai Stir Fry
- Amy’s Non-Dairy Vegetable Pot Pie
- Kashi Garden Vegetable Pasta
- Kashi Ranchero Beans
- Kashi Tuscan Veggie Bake
- Amy’s Teriyaki Bowl
- Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada
Healthy Vegetarian Snacks to Keep in Your Bag
- Nuts and seeds
- Rice cakes
- Campbell’s Soup at Hand Classic Tomato
- Oatmeal Cookies
- Kettle Crisps Potato Chips (Sea Salt & Vinegar)
- Kettle White Popcorn
- Melba Toast
- Nabisco Triscuit Crackers
- Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs (Wheat Thin Minis)