Have you ever wondered what mistakes people make with vegetarian food? It might not always be obvious, but people new to veganism or vegetarianism often make subtle mistakes with vegetarian food, especially when transitioning away from eating meat.
Let’s begin by revealing 10 mistakes people make with vegetarian food.
- Not eating Enough
- Going Vegan and Not Reading Labels
- Believing Cheese is Vegetarian
- Thinking Vegetarian Is the Same As Eating Healthily
- Not Eating Enough Protein
- Forgetting About Iron
- Drinking Too Much Milk
- Not Building Muscle
- Assuming You Need Special Supplements
- Assuming Healthy Eating is Too Expensive/Time-consuming
Welcome to our article from the Vegetarian Food Focus: First Look Series
Vegetarian food has become increasingly more popular over the years, with many people trying it out. And when transitioning towards eating less meat, it’s easy to make mistakes that might leave you a little less healthy.
Whether someone is vegan and wants to stay away from animal products or try something new, vegetarianism can be challenging.
Here we will go through 10 common mistakes people make with vegetarian food:
10 Mistakes People Make With Vegetarian Food
01. Not Eating Enough
Becoming vegetarian does not mean switching to rabbit food. Vegetarianism is about consuming more nutritious foods like vegetables, beans, and grains, but it also means embracing the good stuff that’s already there — like potatoes, rice, or whole-grain pasta.
The last thing you want is your body to switch to change the way it operates. By that, if your body assesses you’re not eating enough, it will assume you’re living under starvation conditions and will begin to store pretty much all of what you eat.
This situation is not ideal, so it’s essential to eat enough.
To achieve this, you may need to count your calories initially. That’s not really what you want to be doing, but it’s worth discovering how much food is enough for you.
Next, you’ll need to figure out how many calories you should be eating for your gender, activity level, and age. You can find this information on most weight loss websites.
You’re looking to find the number of calories your body will burn if you were to do nothing. In other words, if you were to sit idle all day long (not that you would ever do this), doing nothing but breathing, how many calories would you burn, just existing?
This value is a good number to know for yourself.
Armed with this number, you’d neither lose nor gain weight if you ate the same calories per day. Ideally, though, you should be active and not eat beyond the number determined above.
To do so would inevitably lead to gaining weight which may or may not be what you want. When determined and eating correctly, you’ll not feel hungry too often.
You can still enjoy these staples (and all their delicious carbs!) without ruining your diet.
2. Going Vegan and Not Reading Labels
It’s pretty easy to be a vegetarian; you don’t eat meat. Being a vegan is way more challenging, especially if you’re new to it.
You need to read labels on everything, memorise vitamins and minerals primarily found in animal products — like calcium, vitamin D, or B12 (vegan sources are in parentheses), and learn what foods have these nutrients.
It would be wise to ask questions of your waiters when eating out because many dishes contain hidden animal products.
3. Vegetarian Food Mistake: Believing Cheese is Vegetarian
You can live without meat, but good luck giving up cheese! There are many kinds of cheese not made with milk.
But if you’re eating the regular cheese, it’s probably not vegan because many contain casein, a protein isolated from cow’s milk. If you like blue cheese, be aware that many aren’t vegan either because veal or rennet (a stomach enzyme from calves) is sometimes incorporated.
4. Thinking Vegetarian Is the Same As Eating Healthily
Just because you’re vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy. Eating vegetarian will allow you to consume less fat, sodium, and sugar than your meat-eating friends.
Still, if not careful, you can quite easily stuff yourself with processed foods like veggie burgers (which might be vegan, but they’re not healthy) or even carrot cookies! Cheese, peanut butter and crackers are popular junk foods found in many vegetarian diets.
5. Vegetarian Food Mistake: Not Eating Enough Protein
Perhaps you believe you can get all your protein from grains, beans, and vegetables. But while these foods are good for you, they don’t contain the same amount of protein as meat does — at least not in grams or ounces.
It would help if you had more calories from protein when you’re a vegetarian, so make sure you’re eating enough. Vegetarian protein sources include soybeans, tofu, quinoa, and amaranth seeds.
6. Forgetting About Iron
If you want to be a vegetarian, there’s no way to eat more beans and other plant-based foods packed with protein. Many varieties of these foods include plenty of iron — which is crucial for building red blood cells and keeping energy levels high.
You also need vitamin C, found in fruits like oranges or r green peppers, to help your body use the iron in these foods.
7. Drinking Too Much Milk
Some people say the calcium from cow’s milk helps build strong bones — but it might not be the case if you’re a vegetarian (especially if you’re an adult). Milk contains calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy by increasing bone density.
But some people can’t digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. When you’re lactose intolerant, your body doesn’t make enough of the enzyme needed to break down all that lactose — and it’s not a situation in which to be.
8. Not Building Muscle
Vegetarians usually have lower levels of protein than meat-eaters. Protein is vital to building muscle — even when you’re an adult.
If you do too little, your body will break down your muscle fibres instead of adding more to your bones or muscles. You need about 10% of your calories each day from protein if you’re a vegetarian (or 35-40 grams).
9. Vegetarian Food Mistake: Assuming You Need Special Supplements
It can be harder to get specific vitamins — especially B12, an essential vitamin for brain development in infants and children. But you don’t need to take any supplements if you’re eating right.
If you decide to take a supplement like this one, make sure it contains more than 100 per cent recommended daily value.
10. Assuming Healthy Eating Is Too Expensive/Time-consuming
Indeed, veggie burgers are usually more expensive than regular hamburgers, but you don’t need to buy your groceries at organic stores if you’re on a budget or don’t have access to them.
Eating vegetarian doesn’t have to be expensive, and in some cases eating healthy can save you money in the end — since it will help keep your body healthier.
Still, finding time to cook after a long day of work could be difficult if you’re exhausted. If that’s the case for you, let someone else do your cooking.
You could try a vegetarian meal delivery service or buy frozen meals, usually cheaper than fresh ones and taste pretty good.
Vegetarian Food Mistakes: Conclusion
It’s clear that people are changing their diets for many different reasons, but all of these changes can be hard to manage. It would be best to understand how to make the transition easier and avoid some common mistakes that could happen along the way.
We welcome any thoughts from you in the comments below