As we enter the second week of Vegetarian Awareness Month, hopefully green initiates are using this period of awareness to take a look at their nutrition and using the abundance of information found on green websites to tweak their diets. Having done this myself, I conclude that veganism and vegetarianism produce better consumers.
One of the first thing I learned from studying the veganism and vegetarianism is that decisions regarding the purchase of food should be addressed prior to going to the grocery store, rather than while walking up and down the food aisles. With research at home, the consumer is better prepared to decipher and understand food labels and, most importantly, to recognize a real deal. Prepackaged foods full of chemicals and preservatives then will be recognized as not deals at any price. Also, the consumer learns that often it is a better deal to visit local farm stands to take advantage of fresh vegetables and fruits grown locally as opposed to those on the store shelves that were shipped from distant warehouses and are not fresh.
Veganism and vegetarianism also focus on education. Most of the people and organizations committed to this movement are more than happy to share interesting and helpful tips and suggestions with interested consumers. Even some stores, such as Whole Foods, have available books on the values of healthy eating, including cookbooks with recipes to prepare healthy and appetizing meals, which they will loan to consumers.
Some of the concerns voiced by consumers who question vegan and vegetarian diets are noteworthy. One of the principal issues raised is the cost of vegan and vegetarian diets, which can be expensive. The important thing to consider here is that there is a happy medium. It is possible to study the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet and then to introduce more fruits and vegetables into meals, along with meat, seafood and dairy. The vegetables and fruits can be made the centerpiece of the meal and the meat or seafood the side dish. Another concern mentioned is the need to satisfy the necessary dietary requirements for protein, fat and vitamins derived from meat. Research into nutritional values of vegetables and fruits, along with the addition of beans and legumes is mandatory to guarantee a healthy diet.
Healthy living mandates healthy eating. Moderation in all areas of life also is key to healthy living. Learning about vegan and vegetarian diets offers the opportunity to become better consumers and reinforces the need to live green, be green.