I have a lot of vegetarian clients. Many of them are operating on a diet high in soy or fake meat products and grains, which contributes to the health problems they are working to resolve via our consultations. I was a vegetarian for 13 years before I decided it wasn’t right for me, and I don’t advocate vegetarianism now. But if you choose to be a vegetarian, there are some considerations you must implement to prevent deficiencies or imbalance.
Tips to Do Vegetarian Correctly
- Avoid the soy milk, soy protein and processed fake meat products. Your Morningstar Farm breakfast “sausage” is highly refined and loaded with chemicals and processed soy. Soy is very estrogenic and contributes to hormone imbalance, thyroid disturbance and digestive issues.
- Eat healthy fats from egg yolks, butter, coconut oil, avocados and olive oil. These fats support brain and hormone health. Many vegetarians are deficient in the essential fatty acids, which can cause dry skin and hair, poor vision and cardio-vascular issues. Avoid the inflammatory vegetable oils!
- Don’t make your diet grain or gluten-based. Many vegetarians I’ve counseled were relying on pasta because it’s easy to prepare and easy to make meatless. Gluten in particular can contribute to inflammation and digestive issues, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it can sabotage your efforts by adversely affecting blood sugar and hunger levels. Grain-based diets contribute to weight gain, and many people have trouble digesting them because of the lectins and phytic acid. Focus on legumes, veggies, and eggs.
- Soak grains and nuts. Soaking these foods increases digestability and reduces the phytic acid that can block absorption of other nutrients. Even better, try sprouting your grains & legumes for enhanced nutrition.
If you are a vegetarian and experiencing digestive issues, weight gain (or loss), hormone issues or infertility, it may not be the right choice for you. I know how difficult it can be to reintroduce meat for the ethical reasons alone, but why risk your health? You can affect change by choosing organic and sustainably raised animals and boycotting CAFO meats.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.