If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, congratulations! You’re taking a big step toward improving your health and protecting the environment.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of vegetarian you want to be. There are different types of vegetarians, and each one has its own set of principles.
Lacto-vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, or eggs, but they do consume dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, or dairy, but they do eat eggs. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, but they do consume dairy and eggs.
Pescatarians don’t eat meat, but they do eat fish and seafood. Flexitarians are mostly vegetarian, but they occasionally eat meat.
Once you’ve decided what kind of vegetarian you want to be, you can start making the switch. Here are some tips to help you make the transition:
Step 1: Don’t Go Cold Turkey
For example, if you believe that meat is delicious but also believe that eating meat is wrong, you’re going to feel a lot of cognitive dissonance. This stress can be so uncomfortable that it can actually prevent you from making changes in your life.
You may decide to give up all meat right away, but whether you stick to your new diet is another story. If you’re not ready to completely give up meat, try slowly reducing the amount of meat you eat.
Start by having one meatless meal per day, then two, then three. Or you can start by cutting out certain types of meat, like red meat and then poultry. Finally, you can transition to a vegetarian diet.
Read More: Ovo-Vegetarian Meal Plan And Diet Guide
Step 2: Educate Yourself
One of the best things you can do when you’re making any kind of lifestyle change is to educate yourself. This is especially important when you’re becoming a vegetarian, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there about vegetarianism.
You may have heard that being a vegetarian is expensive, that you won’t get enough protein, or that you’ll miss out on important nutrients. None of this has to be true! With a little bit of knowledge, you can easily make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need as a vegetarian (12).
There are plenty of resources out there to help you learn about vegetarianism. Books, websites, and even documentaries can all be great sources of information. Once you know more about the subject, you’ll be able to make informed choices about your diet.
Step 3: Find Some Recipes
One of the best ways to stick to any kind of diet is to have some delicious recipes on hand. This way you won’t be tempted to cheat when you feel hungry.
The internet is full of great vegetarian recipes, so there’s no excuse not to have a few meals in mind before you make the switch. You can even find vegetarian versions of some of your favorite meat-based dishes. chili, for example, can easily be made without meat (10).
There are also plenty of cookbooks devoted to vegetarianism, so you can find a recipe for just about anything you’re in the mood for. Whether you want something simple or something a bit more elaborate, you’re sure to find a vegetarian recipe that suits your needs.
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Step 4: Learn How To Shop
One of the biggest challenges to being a vegetarian is learning how to shop. This is especially true if you’re used to buying most of your food prepackaged.
When you’re shopping for food as a vegetarian, you’ll need to pay more attention to labels. Just because a product doesn’t have meat in it doesn’t mean it’s automatically vegetarian.
Many products, like bread and pasta, are usually vegetarian, but some brands add animal-based ingredients like whey or eggs. So, it’s important to read the labels carefully.
You’ll also need to be careful about cross-contamination (1). This is when meat comes into contact with other food, often through shared cooking surfaces or utensils.
If you’re cooking at home this isn’t usually a problem, but it can be an issue when you’re eating out or buying ready-made food.
Cost is another consideration when shopping. A common misconception is that being a vegetarian is expensive, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
There are plenty of ways to save money as a vegetarian, like buying in season, in bulk or buying frozen foods that are cheaper yet just as nutritious.
Step 5: Be Prepared For Social Situations
One of the hardest things about being a vegetarian is dealing with social situations. Whether you’re at a party or a family gathering, there’s bound to be someone who doesn’t understand your diet.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to justify your choices to anyone. If someone asks why you’re a vegetarian, you can simply say that it’s a personal choice.
You don’t need to go into detail about your reasons unless you want to. In most cases, a simple explanation is all that’s needed.
Of course, there will be times when you’re put in a tough spot. If you’re at a barbecue and there’s only hamburgers and hot dogs, for example, don’t be afraid to speak up.
You can either bring your own food or ask the host if there’s something else you can eat. Most people are happy to accommodate vegetarians, as long as you’re polite about it.
Step 6: Talk To Your Doctor
If you’re considering becoming a vegetarian, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. This is especially true if you have any health concerns.
Your doctor can help you figure out if becoming a vegetarian is right for you and can give you advice on how to do it in a healthy way while meeting all your nutritional needs.
They can also recommend supplements to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need . For example, vegans may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement (12), since this nutrient is found mostly in animal products.
Benefits Of Becoming A Vegetarian
People become vegetarians for many reasons, including religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a more healthy way.
One major benefit of vegetarianism is that it tends to be a healthy lifestyle that may have the following benefits:
Good For Heart Health
The vegetarian diet has heart-protective benefits. Studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (8). One meta-analysis found that vegetarians are up to one-third less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians.
Aids In Weight Loss And Maintenance
Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in calories than diets that include meat, which can help with weight loss or weight maintenance (4). A vegetarian diet can also help you maintain healthy weight because it’s typically high in fiber and low in saturated fat.
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Reduces The Risk Of Certain Cancers
A plant-based diet with heavy fruit and vegetable intake has been linked with a lower risk of some cancers (6), including ovarian cancer and colon cancer. This is because fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that may help to protect cells from damage.
Lowers The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Vegetarian diets may also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These diets are rich in fiber and low in saturated fat, both of which are important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels (11).
This is especially true if you choose more low-glycemic foods like whole grains,legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Some research has also shown that a vegetarian diet can help to improve blood sugar control in people who already have diabetes.
Lower Blood Pressure
Vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressures than meat-eaters, on average. This may be due to the fact that vegetarian diets are typically high in potassium and low in sodium, which is a key factor in blood pressure regulation (13).
Vegetarian diets are also rich in magnesium, another mineral that helps to keep blood pressure under control.
Inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases, including heart disease and arthritis.
Eating a vegetarian diet might help reduce inflammation, as plant-based foods often contain beneficial plant compounds which can have anti-inflammatory properties (2).
Some research has shown that a vegetarian diet may even help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Is Being A Vegetarian Healthy?
Yes, being a vegetarian can be very healthy. However, there are a few potential downsides to consider.
First, if you don’t plan your diet carefully, you may end up missing out on important nutrients, such as protein, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids (7). Make sure to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Being vegetarian doesn’t always translate into eating healthy. Just because a food is vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you.
For example, vegetarian junk foods, such as chips, cookies, and cakes, are high in calories and low in nutrients. And processed meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers and soy-based hot dogs, can be high in sodium and unhealthy fats (8).
So, if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, be sure to do your research and make sure you’re making the best choices for your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about vegetarianism:
What Happens To Your Body When You Become Vegetarian?
When you become vegetarian, your body goes through a number of changes. First, your intake of certain nutrients, such as protein and iron, decreases. However, your intake of other nutrients, such as fiber and antioxidants, increases.
Your body also becomes more efficient at using the nutrients it does consume. For example, vegetarians have been shown to have a higher rate of iron absorption than meat-eaters.
In addition, becoming vegetarian can also lead to weight loss, as well as a lower risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Is Becoming A Vegetarian Hard?
It can be, depending on your lifestyle and diet. If you’re used to eating a lot of meat and processed foods, making the switch to a vegetarian diet can be difficult.
However, with some research, planning, and preparation, it can be done. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian recipes out there, so you’re sure to find something to your taste.
In addition, there are a number of meat substitutes available, such as veggie burgers and soy-based meat alternatives, that can make the transition easier.
How Do I Start Being A Vegetarian?
If you’re interested in becoming a vegetarian, start gradually and purposefully. This means slowly eliminating meat from your diet and replacing it with vegetarian alternatives.
For example, if you typically have a chicken sandwich for lunch, try swapping it out for a veggie burger or a hearty salad.
Over time, you’ll find that you’re eating less and less meat until it’s no longer a part of your diet.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a vegetarian is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By taking things one step at a time, you can make the transition easily and effectively. Just remember to do your research, be prepared for social situations, and talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Avoiding cross-contamination (2017, food.gov.uk)
- Associations of a vegan diet with inflammatory biomarkers (2020, nih.gov)
- Cognitive Dissonance (2018, simplephysiology.org)
- Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Weight Status: A Systematic Review (2020, nih.gov)
- How plant-based food helps fight cancer (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Vegetarian Diet: How to Get the Nutrients You Need (2022, familydoctor.org)
- Major food sources of calories, added sugars, and saturated fat and their contribution to essential nutrient intakes (2013, nih,gov)
- Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health (2018, nih.gov)
- The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? (2012, nih.gov)
- Vegetarian Chili (2020, pinchofyum.com)
- Vegetarian Diets and the Risk of Diabetes (2018, nih.gov)
- Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Vegetarian diet linked to lower blood pressure (2014, harvard.edu)