Eating vegetables provides the body with cancer-fighting phytonutrients and health-boosting vitamins and minerals. They contain no fat, are low calorie, and are a good source of complex carbohydrates which keeps your blood sugar levels stable. There are different reasons people choose to eat a plant-based diet. Some people feel a moral responsibility to refrain from eating animals. Others feel that it is healthier to avoid meat and mainly eat vegetables. Converting to vegetarianism can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be.
Becoming a vegetarian requires you to go through a substantial period of change. It is important to know exactly why you want to make this transition and thinking about it ahead of time can help build resolve and willpower. It is a good idea to write down your reasons both to gather your thoughts and to have something you can look at later. If you are clear-headed going in, the rest of the process will be smooth sailing.
Before you embark on your plant-based journey, it's important to read up on becoming vegetarian. I suggest checking out a book or two about the subject to educate yourself. "The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet" by Vesanto Melina MS RD and Brenda Davis RD may be a good place to start. Blogs, especially recipe blogs, are another great place to look for information and inspiration.
It is important to find some recipes you find appetizing before you give up meat. There are many websites which have thousands of recipes available for free. A quick Google search will give you plenty of options. You should find at least ten recipes before you switch to a vegetarian diet. You may even want to try each recipe once to make sure you like it prior to starting.
An important thing to consider about your new lifestyle is whether eggs and dairy will be part of your diet. A vegan diet is vegetarianism minus meat and dairy. Both eggs and whole milk contain saturated fat, so if you are trying to avoid it, you may want to avoid these. There is quite a bit of variance on this topic in the vegetarian community, but you have to decide what is right for you.
Once you become vegetarian, things like eating out can be a bit more complicated depending on where you live. It's important to have a solid plan in place for occasions when you will be somewhere food is served. If you go to a party, they may not serve vegetarian-friendly foods. If you go out to eat with non-vegetarians, chances are it won't be at a vegetarian restaurant. You should be able to at least order a salad at most places but it makes sense to come up with a few foods that you can eat in a pinch such as french fries, onion rings, and bread. Don't be embarrassed to bring them with you whenever you are venturing into a situation where you may not be able to eat foods that are available.
Whenever you start a new habit or give something up it is important to pick a start date. If you aren't clear about exactly when you will begin your new lifestyle, it will be very easy to backslide or lose motivation. Make sure to pick a date to start when you are not busier than normal. You don't want to make a big change when you already have added stress to deal with.
Making a big shift in your habits can be a challenge. A great way to build some momentum before you start is to tell people your plan. When you tell people you are close to what you plan to do, you are more likely to follow through with your intention. Nobody wants to be perceived as a person who says they will do something and doesn't follow through. You can use this to your advantage to help you stick to your new vegetarian lifestyle. Choose a few people and tell them about your undertaking and when you will start. You may even start some interesting conversations as a result.
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It's start day and time to take the first step of your transition to a plant-based diet. It's usually easier to give up meat in two phases. The first phase is giving up red meat. During this period you can still eat chicken, pork, and other white meats but from here on out avoid all red meat. Two weeks is a typical length of time for this part of the process but whatever you are comfortable with is what you should stick to.
Now that you have given up red meat its time to stop eating other types of meat. There are two approaches which can be used for this step, gradual and immediate. The gradual approach involves giving up other meats one at a time. The immediate approach entails giving up all the remaining types of meat at once. For example, using the gradual approach you would quit eating chicken, then wait two weeks and give up pork, then after two weeks give up seafood. With the immediate approach, you would simply quit all three at once.
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It's a myth that it is hard to consume all the types of nutrients your body needs with a vegetarian diet. You can eat a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet without eating meat. It is important, however, to make sure you are getting enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates as well as all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes the body requires for optimum health. It's also a good idea to take a multivitamin as extra insurance, but if you are eating right then it isn't required. For most vegetarians, the key to a successful diet is getting enough protein.
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