How Do I Eat Clean as a Vegetarian?

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Eating clean is a way of life that means you choose foods that are as close to nature as possible. In other words, your diet is made up fresh, whole foods that don't come from a package, which can include meat. If, however, you're a vegetarian, it's just as easy to build weekly menus based on the principles of clean eating.

Fill Up on Fruits and Veggies

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must if you're practicing clean eating. Eating clean is all about choosing the most nutritious foods that have been the least, if any, processed, according to "Eating Well" magazine, and fresh fruits and vegetables certainly fit the bill. The Clean Eating website notes that true clean eating also means that you choose organic produce whenever possible and that you opt for seasonal and local produce when you can. Vibrantly colored produce has the highest nutrient content and should make up the bulk of your fruit and vegetable intake.

Go for Healthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats, found in foods such as fast foods and packaged baked goods and snacks, are the enemies of the clean eating diet. These fats can raise your cholesterol levels, which puts you at a higher risk for heart disease. Instead, clean eating is all about choosing healthy fats, such as the unsaturated fats in vegetarian foods like flaxseed, nuts and avocados. Since many types of meat are high in saturated fat, whole beans and lentils, which are a clean eating source of protein and don't contain saturated fat, are good replacements in a vegetarian diet. Cooking with canola or olive oil in place of butter is another recommendation.

Clean Complex Carbs

Refined carbs, such as white bread and white pasta, are off-limits when it comes to clean eating. Packaged carbs, such as granola bars and crackers, don't have a place in a clean eating diet either. Complex carbs do, however, because they've been minimally processed or are completely unprocessed and are a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. So, opt for whole-wheat bread and pasta and swap your usual white rice for brown rice. Quinoa and oats are additional complex carbs to include in your clean eating diet.

What to Avoid

In addition to packaged and processed foods, clean eating also means that you restrict your intake of sugary foods, such as desserts and soda, in favor of naturally sweet foods such as fresh fruit. Limit your intake of salty foods, too, such as fast food, packaged snacks and soy sauce. Drink no more than one glass of red wine per day, and opt for at least 2 liters of water over other beverages such as fruit-flavored juices. Skip sugary alcoholic drinks such as margaritas and pina coladas as well.