A Vegetarian Diet
Protein-rich Vegetarian Food Choices
- Tofu: a white, cheese-like food, made from curdled soybean milk (also called bean curd). The firm style is a perfect meat replacer, especially when marinated or stir-fried as it picks up the flavor of any seasoning. Soft style is excellent in soups, or blended to make creamy dressings and dips.
- Wheat gluten: the tough substance remaining when the flour of wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch. It really tastes like meat. (Wheat gluten is a hazard for people with celiac disease.)
- Tempeh: a chewable, meat-like textured food made from fermented soybeans. It has a nutty taste that can be used in almost any type of recipe that calls for meat.
- Quorn: a textured product made from fungus (like mushrooms) and is delicious. Found in the freezer section of big city grocery stores, microwave or thaw, then add to veggie broth for a quick saut or add to a sandwich.
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): the remaining substance when oil is removed from the soybean. It has higher protein than most meat, is fat free, and has far fewer calories. It's yummy as a veggie burger or in tacos or spaghetti sauce.
- Egg replacers: egg whites (an animal protein) with the fat/cholesterol-containing yolks removed, food coloring added. They are the perfect protein as they contain all 8 essential amino acids.
- Nondairy "dairy" products: soy or rice milk can be found in a variety of low-fat flavors, fortified with calcium, and used in place of cow's milk. Soy-based cheeses, tofu ice creams, and desserts are available as well.
Making the Switch
Following a vegetarian diet and managing diabetes requires planning. See a registered dietitian to be assured you are eating a nutritious, balanced diet. Other resources include the vegetarian starter kit from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine at PCRM.org, GoVeg.com, and VegCooking.com.
Whatever your belief system is regarding dietary preferences, every day, every meal, you make a choice. For many people, vegetarianism is an ecologically friendly step to make that also bodes well with diabetes management and healthy living.
Disclaimer: Author has been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 25 years.
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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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