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Updated: Jul 9, 2022

“Where’s the beef?” was not only a catchy marketing slogan years ago, but many of you may have gotten this question when you tried to present a vegetarian meal to your family. Maybe you are the one asking the question. Either way, don’t fret. For some of us, it takes a little more time to win our family members over. If your man is like mine and is giving you a hard time and feels a vegetarian diet is not “manly,” let him know about some real men who have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle, like Andre 3000, Hank Aaron, Lenny Kravitz, Seal, Prince, Russell Simmons and Keenan Ivory Wayans, just to name a few. I started out by making it fun, and we now look forward to meatless Mondays!

Vegetarianism is not just a fad; in fact, most people throughout world history have eaten a largely vegetarian diet. Believe it or not, only until relatively recently in Europe and North America, diets have become centered around meat. This is largely due to meat and animal products becoming more available and affordable. In other parts of the world, including Africa, plant-based diets remain more common. With today’s tough economy, going vegetarian may be a good option for your food budget and your health.

As with most things, there are many facets of vegetarianism. In my practice, I get patients and clients saying they are vegetarian, but they eat fish and seafood, actually that is not a vegetarian. Here are a few guidelines.

1. A strict vegetarian or vegan excludes all animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products. Some vegans may need vitamin and mineral supplementation.

2. Lactovegetarian is a vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish and eggs but includes dairy products.

3. Locto-ovovegetarian is a vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry and fish but includes eggs and dairy products. Most vegetarians in the United States fall into this category.

4. Flexitarian, which is a new term in my vocabulary, is a semi-vegetarian diet with a focus on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption.

So, are you giving it more thought? Why not start by cutting your least favorite meat out of your diet, the one you could most easily do without. Simply resolve to leave it out of your diet. When you are ready, eliminate your second least favorite meat. Don’t rush yourself, just do it gradually. Experiment with food you’ve never tried before like exotic vegetables, tropical fruits and different sources of plant-based protein like soy, tofu, tempeh, dried beans, nuts, seeds and quinoa.

You can be at optimal health with an appropriately planned vegetarian diet that is healthful, and nutritionally adequate. It can provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Vegetarian diets offer a number of advantages, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein.

Lastly try to find other vegetarians to interact with. Surround yourself with support and encouragement. A great book I recommend is “By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat.” This book by author Tracye McQuirter is well written and you can use it as a guide in your journey to vegetarianism. Get ready to fortify your health and get your plate in shape.

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