File under who knew, but a surprising number of “vegetarians” are actually overweight, suffer from high blood pressure, early heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes – ailments typically associated with those of us that eat meat. Many people assume that going vegetarian is a quick fix way to avoid a lot of diet-related health issues, but the truth is that you still have to pay attention to preparation and labels with vegetarian items… sometimes more so.
With a lot of growth in the frozen and pre-packaged food market for vegetarians, many items that would be healthful if prepared carefully at home end up being a big disappointment. Like most processed and pre-packaged foods, “easy” vegetarian meals are often high in salt, artificial sugars, saturated fats and other artificial ingredients designed to enhance flavor, texture or shelf life. Without meaning to, someone who is trying to make a healthy change by becoming vegetarian ends up doing more harm than good.
The solution is to do what you would with all food packaging – look at the label. If it’s high in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol or any other undesirable elements, skip it. If you’re starting out with raw vegetables or fresh tofu from the produce department, be mindful of how you cook it. Slather it in fatty salad dressing and you may as well have a small burger. Deep fry it in oil and it’s just like eating French fries (which are a great example of a vegetarian item that we ALL know isn’t healthy). So, if you want to go vegetarian or vegan for moral reasons or because you feel there are benefits to a meat-free lifestyle you want to enjoy, please, by all means, do so. But if you’re looking for a magic bullet on weight loss, be careful with your menu.