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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!


Megan - Health Promotion Specialist

May 14, 2017

National Vegetarian Week takes place during the middle week of May each year. Are you up for the challenge to eat “veggie” for the week? Or if a week seems too much, why not try Meat-Free Monday!

Not only are vegetarian meals tasty, quick to prepare and affordable, there are many health benefits from eating less meat. Benefits of a veggie diet include:

  • Less saturated fat and cholesterol than a non-vegetarian diet
  • More fibre and fewer calories
  • More phytonutrients (these natural chemicals, such as lycopene found in tomatoes or beta-carotene found in carrots, may help to prevent disease)
  • Studies have found that vegetarians have lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity (among other illnesses).

Going veggie doesn’t mean just cutting out meat

Whilst a vegetarian diet can be healthier, it’s important that it is well balanced to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.  For example, protein, iron, calcium, omega-3s and Vitamin B12. Note: this list isn’t exhaustive – for further information, check out the British Dietetic Association Plant-Based Diet factsheet. Some tips to get you started:

Swap your protein

  • Instead of meat, bulk up your meals with another protein source such as nuts, beans (kidney beans, baked beans, black beans, lima beans), legumes (lentils, chickpeas) tofu, eggs, falafel or quorn (note: some quorn products aren’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians who avoid egg products).

Increase iron absorption!

  • Iron in plant foods isn’t as easily absorbed as iron in animal foods. The good news is that Vitamin C helps our body to absorb iron. So, include some Vitamin C-rich foods with each meal, for example a glass of fruit juice with breakfast, tomatoes at lunch and an orange after dinner.
  • Get iron from these plant foods: breads and cereals, leafy green veggies,  nuts, beans and lentils.

Scrumptious veggie snacks

  • Hungry between meals? Try unsalted-nuts, carrot/pepper/cucumber sticks with reduced-fat hummus or peanut butter, a handful of cherry tomatoes, or fruit (fresh and dried).

For more veggie inspiration:

And to finish… some veggie jokes (we couldn’t resist!)

  • Why did the cucumber blush? Because it saw the salad dressing!
  • Which vegetable do sailors ban from their ships? Leeks
  • What is small, red and whispers? A hoarse raddish
  • Why did the chef quit his job? Because they cut his celery

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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