Skipping the meat isn't as hard as you may have thought. Here's why five veggie myths simply aren't true.
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1. You aren't getting certain nutrients, particularly protein.
Fact: The average woman needs 46 grams of protein a day, and a one-cup serving of chickpeas gets you about a third of the way there. Problems creep up when you let simple carbs (white bread), sugars, and trans fats crowd out healthier choices. "Focus on eating whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables and you'll get everything you need—including protein," says Reed Mangels, PhD, R.D., nutrition advisor for The Vegetarian Resource Group. In fact, vegetarian diets tend to have higher levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and E , folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals.
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2. You need to eat "fake" meat if you're forgoing the real deal.
Fact: People were eating healthy vegetarian diets long before soy-based "hamburger" and other knockoffs came along. Mother Nature knows how to provide what you need.
3. It's a repetitive, carb-rich diet.
Fact: Because they have to think outside of the meat-and-potatoes box, many vegetarians eat a wider variety of foods than their carnivore counterparts. Plan meals from the full spectrum of the food rainbow—veggies, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts—and you'll never be bored.
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4. Veggie dishes tend to be high in fat.
Fact: Copious amounts of cheese used to be the rule in early vegetarian cookbooks. These days, many flavorful ethnic cuisines deliver bold vegetarian flavors via herbs and spices—and with far less fat, says Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
5. You never really feel full.
Fact: If you're eating plenty of plant foods, you're loading up on fiber, the stuff that fills your belly and stifles the need to nosh soon after eating. And again, consuming legumes gives you enough hunger-satisfying protein.