What...You Don't Eat No Meat?

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More and more people around the world realize the benefits of vegetarian food and delicious vegan meals to not only lead healthier lives but to reduce their carbon footprints. PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) reports that 2.5 percent of the U.S. population follows a vegan diet while another 5 percent follow vegetarian diets. Popular celebrity vegans and vegetarians include people like Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Silverstone, Wood Harrelson and Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman wrote on the Huffington Post about how the environmental effects of the mass production of animals are staggering.There are many reasons someone might follow a vegan diet or healthy vegetarian diet from personal, health or environmental reasons. But with so much talk about climate change and global warming, environmental reasons are quickly becoming the top reason for people becoming vegetarian. Unfortunately using the land to raise livestock for human consumption instead of crops is very harmful to the environment. Livestock uses up our precious water, soil and trees to make way for grazing and factory farm sheds that could be put to better use. And the animal waste created by all of the livestock pollutes rivers and streams. Animal agriculture is one of the most destructive industries and environmental hazards facing the Earth today. A recent report that was published by the Worldwatch Institute states that at least 51 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. The amount of food that it takes each day to feed the world's cattle population is equal to the needs of 8.7 billion people, which is more than the entire human population on Earth. The amount of damage that animal agriculture is doing to the planet is staggering.

Eating a healthy vegetarian diet and becoming a vegetarian are not as difficult as some people might think. Some people start by following a vegan diet or vegetarian diets at least one day a week. Meat Free Monday is a campaign launched by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, that aims to help raise awareness of the environmental impact of meat eating on the planet. The concept encourages people to improve their healthy and help slow climate change by enjoying at least one meat-free day a week. It helps to do a bit of research beforehand when you are considering vegetarian food and vegetarian healthy food recipes; you will find there is no shortage of the amazing recipe ideas you will find. Knowing vegan diet and healthy vegetarian diet high protein sources are the first steps to eating a healthy vegetarian diet. Some of the best vegetarian cooking, gluten free, soy free and vegan diet high protein sources based on one cup servings include whole grains such as quinoa (8gm), brown rice (5gm), and wild rice (7gm). Some of the best legume high protein sources include black beans (15.2gm), lentils (17.9gm), navy beans (15.8gm), split peas (16.4gm) and chickpeas (11.9gm). High protein sources of fruit which have about 0.5 to 1 gm of protein per cup include apples, bananas, oranges, and strawberries. High protein sources of vegetables include peas (9gm), spinach (5gm), broccoli (4gm), sweet potatoes (4gm) and Brussel sprouts (4gm). High protein vegetarian food sources of seeds and nuts include almonds (8gm), hemp seeds (10gm), and chia seeds (8gm), pistachios (6gm) and sunflower seeds (6gm).

High protein sources of dried fruits can include figs (about ten dried figs have 5.7gm of protein) and raisins (4.8gm). It's important to remember that when cooking vegetarian you want to eat a variety of foods from different source of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, seed and nuts. Some helpful tips to keep in mind when trying to eat a vegan diet or healthy vegetarian diet is that like any diet you want to keep away from foods that are processed. Just because something is vegan, soy and gluten-free doesn't mean it won't have unknown ingredients and high levels of sodium. Try to stay away from sugar. Using organic maple syrup as a sweetener in place of sugar works great when you have a sweet craving. Maple syrup is yummy on baked sweet potatoes. Hummus is a great high-protein snack. You can serve this vegetarian food with carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and as a spread on pita bread with cucumbers and sprouts. When trying to think of vegetarian healthy food recipes make lots of salad recipes that are topped with high protein nuts or seeds. And when you are craving ice cream try one of the dairy-free ice creams available such as almond milk or rice milk, they are delicious. Like anything it is just a matter of finding the vegetarian food and easy vegan meals that you like the most, trying new things will open up a whole new world of eating to enjoy.

Something to remember when you are eating any food whether from a vegan diet to healthy vegetarian diet is that we are what we eat. That simply means that you want to be mindful of the food that you eat. Knowing where your food comes from, the ingredients in the vegetarian cooking and taking time to enjoy your food are important. By selecting the best vegan meals and vegetarian food, you want to remember to eat more slowly, chew more and think about what you are eating. Knowing that the vegetarian food that you are eating comes from happy chickens, and happy cows can make you feel better when you eat. Food that is raised in a humane way and prepared lovingly can play a role in the way you feel about yourself.

"Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret" is a groundbreaking feature-length documentary that discusses just how destructive animal agriculture is and the difference people can make by eating fewer animal products and replacing them with plants. The film discusses how animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption, and pollution. Facts from the film include how animal livestock covers 45 percent of the earth's total land, and how following a healthy vegetarian diet or vegan diet can reduce your carbon footprint by 50 percent. *

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