One way I enjoy eating vegetables is to give them robust seasoning with flavorful spices. The right seasoning takes any meal from good to memorable. There are many ways to season a meal and it can be done without adding salt. Also, spices have many health benefits. This article lists some great spices and details their healthy benefits.
Loma Linda University School of Public Health has produced a nice document about the vegetarian diet. It includes the vegetarian food pyramid, food groups with dietary purpose, and vegetarian FAQs. It delivers a wide range of very useful information for those wanting to learn more about the vegetarian diet. You can download the PDF here.
A vegan diet provides many health benefits. For example, vegan meals have zero cholesterol since cholesterol is a component of animal products. Vegan meals also provide proper nutrition when a variety of vegetables, fruit, and grains are eaten. This is a great article which summarizes the positive health effects of a vegan diet along with nutrition tips and recommendations. It also provides quotes from registered nutritionists from the American Dietetic Association.
If you are interested in expanding to new ingredients beyond the common vegetables used in most veggie meals, one option is to explore sea vegetables. There are more edible sea veggies than the seaweed wrapped around sushi. To be honest, I haven't used sea vegetables in my cooking except for a short time when I made my own sushi at home. However, in many kitchens in Asia and other parts of the world, consuming sea vegetables is very common and nutritious. This article lists some of the ones you're likely to find in the supermarket or specialty markets. It also provides some nutrition information.
The latest statistics indicate that the consumption of beef in the U.S. has dropped 13% since 1980, in part due to more people eating leaner meats and switching to a vegetarian diet according to this article.
A major theme for me in cooking and eating is the reduction of sodium. Without constantly watching the amount of sodium used in the foods we consume, our intake levels usually surpass the daily recommended amount. When cooking meals at home, it's easy to control, however, it's also easy to add salt when cooking or serving. It's very difficult to control the salt levels when eating out, even when you ask the server to notify the cooks to add no extra salt to the meals.
The research study in the article concludes that preference for salt may start during infancy based on the foods that babies are given. It is possible to reeducate your taste buds at any time to enjoy the flavor of food without the presence of salt. However, it becomes more difficult if you've been conditioned to the taste of salt from infancy. The test results from the research project are kind of interesting.
A recent survey of 200 nutritionists revealed five health trends for 2012. Check out this article and stay on trend!
Eating vegan or vegetarian meals is usually healthy. However, if the amount of salt used to prepare the meals is not reduced as well, you may not be getting the full nutritional impact of the food. Generally, we consume much more salt than is needed. This video from the CDC provides some useful information.
This is a very good article which discusses how to get proper nutrition from a vegetarian or vegan diet. It has a graphic for a food pyramid and also lists sources for different vitamins including B12. It contends that you can get the nutrition you need from a plant based diet and highlights some great food such as spinach, kale, and quinoa. I like cooking with these ingredients as well. Very informative!
There has been plenty of discusion on the best way to eat vegetables - cooked, raw, steamed - in order to get the most nutrients out of them. I feel these are good discussions because research suggests that the body absorbs nutrients from food differently depending on the conditions in which they were prepared and consumed. However, it's important to understand that not everyone enjoys vegetables in the same way. For some, raw vegetables are delicious. For others, its hard to get them down unless they are smothered in dressing or hidden in a stew or soup.
My recommendation is that you should eat vegetables any way that you can enjoy them. I didn't like all vegetables when I became a vegetarian. But I did everything possible to make the ones I didn't like seem palatable. I tried many different recipes and styles until I could enjoy a wider variety of food, including stir-frying them, putting barbecue sauce on them, etc., until I started to like them. After a while, I became more accustomed to the flavor and they required less effort to eat. So don't be afraid to eat vegetables in a way that you like - its the fact that you are trying them out that's important. It's also the fun part because you're learning to eat new things in a creative environment.
This short article discusses some of the same themes and gives some good nutrition information.
Make Simple Vegan Meals