I have been a vegetarian for quite some time and I always receive a number of responses to it. A very common response I hear from people when disclosing my diet is, “Oh, you must eat really healthy then?” While I do my best to eat a healthy diet, being a vegetarian does not equate to healthy eating. In fact, being a vegetarian can lead to some very unhealthy eating habits…how you might ask?

Carbs

That’s right, when you pass on meat, which is protein, it is very easy to load up on carbs instead. Especially when eating out…many restaurants and fast food joints are simply not vegetarian-friendly. Lacking healthy protein filled plant-based options. This leads us veggies to ordering a big plate of french fries, because those are indeed veggie friendly. Is that a healthy choice? Not so much.

Common veggie-friendly menu items when eating out:

  • French Fries – Deep fried and usually around 350 calories per serving.
  • Various Salads – Heavy salad dressings can pack in over 200 calories, plus think about the cheese, croutons, and other carbs that usually are served with a normal salad.
  • Fake Meats – These are usually made from a variety of grains, these fake meat options can have as many as 30+ grams of carbs per serving.

Lack of Protein

When you decide to cut meat out of your diet you are essentially cutting out a ton of protein. While it is certainly possible to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet you need to be incredibly mindful of your protein intake. Asking yourself on a daily basis, “Where is my protein coming from today?”The problem is many vegetarians simply cut out meat and don’t realize that they need to be getting the same amount of daily protein intake from other sources. This can be tricky and can require a ton of careful meal planning.

Great vegetarian protein options:

  • Tofu – One serving contains 10 grams of protein
  • Raw Almonds – 23 nuts contain 6 grams of protein
  • Tempeh – 1/2 Cup contains 15 grams of protein
  • Black Beans – 1 Cup contains 15 grams of protein

Take-Home Message About Vegetarianism

The takeaway message is that being a vegetarian does not necessarily equal eating a healthy diet. However, with careful planning a vegetarian diet can be a very healthy and protein packed diet if carefully and mindfully planned. Before starting any new diet always do your homework first and plan appropriately.