Why a Vegetarian Diet Is Good for Your Health and the Health of the Planet

By Rachael Moeller Gorman, "The Joy of Meatless," May/June 2011

One woman's foray into a meatless approach to cooking.

Meeting Our Meatless Month

At the beginning of the week, I headed to the supermarket to buy ingredients for our new dishes. That night, I cooked Sesame-Crusted Tofu over Vegetables. It was amazing. I actually craved it the next day and reheated the leftovers for lunch.

The rest of the week was just as tasty. The Bean & Hominy Potpie—total comfort food—was a particular hit. Cooking meatlessly started feeling like an adventure, and I began packing more “good stuff” into breakfast and lunch, too: I made smoothies with silken tofu, kale, blueberries, bananas and orange juice. They were so good my 3-year-old began asking for one every day. I boiled edamame and sprinkled it with sea salt and when my son successfully popped the soybean out of the pod into his mouth, he said, “I did it, Mommy! Mmmmm! I love soybeans!” Since soy has been linked to cholesterol reduction, and my family has a history of cholesterol issues, I was thrilled.

Lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels may be a major reason for vegetarians’ reduced risk for heart disease, say scientists. High cholesterol can contribute to plaque in our arteries, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Meat contains high levels of saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels, while vegetables contain lots of fiber and plant sterols, which can keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range. Our new diet was, most likely, already improving our cholesterol levels, and helping our hearts.

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