Vegetarian Low Carb Eating:
Can It Be Done?
Can people survive on vegetarian low carb diets? And if so, what on Earth can they eat?
At first blush, it seems that to go down the “low carb path,” one essentially must become carnivorous. But in fact, many who abide by vegan and/or vegetarian rules (for religious, environmental, ethical, health, and other reasons) can still lead
low carb lifestyles.
Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Consider expanding your food repertoire.
- For vegetarians: if you’re willing to countenance seafood, the bounties of Poseidon await you: grouper, trout, salmon, tuna, squid, mahi-mahi--the list goes on.
- For vegans: if you can stomach eating occasional diary products, many cheeses, yogurts, butter, cream cheese, and eggs are very low carb.
- If your belief system allows: consider supplementing your diet with organically-raised, free-range, non-hormone-injected, humanely-treated meats.
2. Lots of stuff you’re already
is vegetarian low carb.
Soymilk, soy-yogurt, tofu, nut butters, legumes, tempe, and vegetable oils--all generally okay on vegetarian/vegan diets--are also low carb. A company named Quorn manufactures some yummy meat-substitute products. Just remember: you probably should not rely exclusively on soy to get your protein. Doing so, in fact, may lead to changes in your hormone levels. Change up your protein sources. Whey powders, for instance, can provide key essential aminos and nutrients for vegetarian low carb dieters.
3. Limit your intake of sugars and simple carbs.
Potatoes, carrots, beets, fruit juices, high fructose corn syrup, pasta, and rice all seem to be able to wreak havoc on blood sugar and on the body’s insulin response. Sub-out for these super-carby foods. Instead of eating bananas (tons of sugar), eat more blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, for instance. Instead of sorbet for dessert, try a low carb soy popsicle.
4. Don’t let low carbers pressure you into changing your belief system.
Although this site makes the case that low carb eating is probably ideally healthy for human beings, the authors believe that vegetarian philosophies contain profound wisdom. Low carbers and vegetarians/vegans have much to learn from one another. In particular, some low carbers seem blissfully unaware of the insane and exploitative practices that go on in the meat industry. Livestock, employees and the environment often suffer horrific insults and abuse to pad meat companies’ bottom lines.
The point is, both communities can promote a greater awareness of where our food comes from and what it does to the body. Let’s work together and emphasize a mutual respect for our planet and our food sources.
5. Reduce stress in your life.
This tip has nothing to do with carb restriction per se. But studies have shown that long term stress reduction can have powerful effects on overall health and weight. When the body exists in a constant state of stress, it over-produces hormones like cortisol, and this in turn causes the body to store more fat. Thus, if you can reduce your stress levels by, for instance, meditating 30 minutes a day, you might be able to lose weight and blunt the impact of the carbs you do consume.
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