Practically every day we hear about America’s skyrocketing weight gain. Currently over 30% of adults age 20 and over in the US are obese and nearly 40% are overweight. But there’s one group who seems to be escaping the trend - vegetarians. The prevalence of obesity among vegetarians and vegans ranges from 0 to 6% according to published data, and on average, the body weights of both male and female vegetarians are up to 20% lower than omnivores. Even becoming a semi-vegetarian can help you cut calories and boost your intake of the key nutrients linked to weight control, like fiber and vitamin D.
For example, if you trade 3 ounces of 90% lean ground turkey for a half cup of chopped Portabella mushroom once a week, without making any other changes, would save you 7,280 calories a year (bonus: mushrooms are the only plant-based vitamin D rich food). If you’re willing to give more meatless meals a try, here are three swaps that will save you a total of 1,230 calories without giving up a lick of satisfaction:
Top a bed of 2 cups torn Romaine with a quarter cup of pico de gallo, one cup of black, pinto or vegetarian refried beans, and a quarter cup of guacamole
Calories saved by cutting 3 oz ground beef, a quarter cup shredded cheddar cheese and 2 Tbsp sour cream: 400
Toss together a half cup cooked whole wheat penne or spirals with 1 cup chopped veggies (onions, peppers, spinach and tomatoes) sautéed in 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil and top with 3 oz extra firm organic tofu, chopped or crumbled
Calories – 410
Calories saved by cutting 2 meatballs and a quarter cup mozzarella cheese: 380
Toast a whole grain bun, spread with 2 Tbsp hummus and fill with one large grilled Portabella mushroom, lettuce, tomato and red onion
Calories – 250
Calories saved by cutting a 3 oz burger patty, 1 slice American cheese and 1 Tbsp mayo: 450
How many veggie meals do you eat per week? Do you feel just as full and satisfied on fewer calories when you eat meatless meals? Are you a vegetarian or vegan married to a meat eater (like me)? Please share!