“A healthy body is a platform for flourishing a healthy mind.”
― Pawan Mishra
Clean Eating as a Vegetarian
If you are a vegetarian, you might be looking for a way to eat healthier, but also avoid meat and possibly dairy products as well. Luckily, a clean eating diet is one of the easiest to follow and still maintain a meatless lifestyle. Here are some tips for eating clean as a vegetarian.
Add Plenty of Healthy Fats
As you know from your current vegetarian lifestyle, you need to make sure you get protein and fat from food sources not related to meat and seafood. Luckily, there are still lots of healthy fats that provide good nutrients without anything that isn't allowed on the clean eating diet. Keep eating plenty of healthy fats like nuts and seeds, flaxseed, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil. These oils are better to use instead of butter. Even if you allow yourself dairy on your vegetarian diet, you should avoid dairy on a clean eating diet unless it is from grass-fed cows.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
Naturally, the majority of what you are going to eat on a clean eating diet is fruits and veggies. Try to pile them on, not skimping at all. You don't need to worry as much about your macros with clean eating, as long as you know to recognize your body's hunger signals and stop eating when you are full. Most of your meals should consist of lots of fresh produce, preferably not frozen and never canned. Start picking up your produce at health food stores or farmer's markets for more variety and to save money.
Go For the Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates are okay to include while practicing a clean eating vegetarian diet, but you want to avoid your refined carbs. These tend to be overly processed and include foods like white pasta, white rice, and white bread. If you're going to have rice, grains, or pasta, at least go for the complex carb version, including whole grain or sprouted versions. There is also brown rice pasta, which is even better for you than traditional whole wheat pasta. These also happen to be good sources of fiber and some protein as well, which is always essential to have included in a vegetarian diet. Add in plenty of quinoa and oats as well.
Avoid Processed ‘Veggie’ Foods
The clean eating diet is about eating as many clean, fresh, and whole foods as you can. An easy way to know what to eat or not eat is to look at the food's packaging. If the food is in plastic or a box, it probably is processed in some way. For example, if you wanted to eat hummus, making it yourself is a better choice than buying a tub of it that's been processed and distributed to your local health food store. However, if the tub is sold behind the deli counter, they might make it right in the store and package it themselves, which doesn't require processing.
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.