Type “becoming a vegetarian” into your favorite search engine and you are guaranteed to see a plethora of news articles, medical journals, lifestyle blogs, and social media sites filled with suggestions. Let’s keep it simple – condensed results for you in an easy-to-follow article:
First, let’s review the benefits. Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle can help improve personal health , sustain the environment, support animal welfare, and save money. Whatever you believe, there is always a reason to consider trying a vegetarian diet.
If you’re reading this, then you may have thought about becoming a vegetarian at one time. For whatever reason you couldn’t start then, we challenge you to take the venture now! Vegetarianism is more accessible than ever, even for the busy professional.
Here are four steps to make it happen:
Step 1 – Let’s be honest…
Before skydiving for the first time, would you calmly hop in your car and drive to the nearest airport? Probably not; you may consider a few things like risk, personal health and cost, prior to jumping. Similarly, if you want to become a vegetarian, consider the following:
- What foods do you enjoy and what don’t you like?
- Are you an adventurous eater or do you to stick with what you know?
- Do you eat in restaurants or at home?
- Do you cook or buy ready-to-eat meals?
Understanding your preferences will help make this work. For example, don’t expect to become a vegan chef overnight if you don’t like cooking. You may enjoy some ready-to-eat options instead while you ease yourself into cooking a few meals.
Step 2 – What do you know?
There are different types of vegetarianism. Here are the most popular:
- “No food with a face” – Quoted from TV character Phoebe Buffay of Friends , this type of vegetarian avoids food with a face, or simply put animal meat. The technical name is lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes eating animal byproducts like dairy and eggs, but not the animal flesh itself.
- One fish, two fish… – A pescatarian fuses the health benefits of fresh fish with nutrient rich plant-based foods. A pescatarian avoids all land animals like beef and poultry and may also exclude byproducts like eggs and dairy.
- Animal hugger – Also known as vegan. This version completely omits animal product from the diet including byproducts like eggs, dairy, honey, and foods with Red40 coloring.
- What the heck is a flexitarian? – A newer term, the flexitarian consumes meat less frequently and in smaller amounts. For example, a flexitarian may eat plant-based foods only, but will eat meat on special occasions like holidays.
Which one sounds good? Choose the best fit for you and set it as your goal.
Step 3 – Let’s eat!
Enough thinking, let’s start eating!
Tip 1 – Make your favorite already-vegetarian dishes:
Do you like…
- Sandwiches like grilled cheese and PB&J
- Veggie lasagna
- Rice and beans tossed green salads and other potato, pasta and fruit salads
- Minestrone soup
- Mac ‘n cheese
If you do, good news! These are already meat-free dishes!
Tip 2 – Embrace “gateway” meat products:
While some people turn their noses up at the processed nature of faux meats, this option can be an efficient way to add protein and make a meaty dish vegetarian without losing the flavor and texture of the dish. These products can be found in most grocery store chains, in the natural food and frozen food isles:
- Veggie Burgers – Boca , MorningStar, Gardenburger, Gardein, Preager’s
- If you’re not sure which one to try, read this Huffington Post article.
- Deli Slices – Tofurkey , Litelife, Yves
- Soy crumbles (faux ground meat) – Gardein, Litelife, Boca, MorningStar
- “Chikn” patties/nuggets – Quorn, MorningStar, Gardein
Tip 3 – Substitutions for Vegan-friendly dishes
Avoid dairy and eggs by using plant-based ingredients instead. Items like applesauce, bananas, nut milks, flax seed, and coconut can be substituted while cooking and baking. In addition to great taste, your foods may be healthier! Check out conversion charts available online.
Step 4 - Nice to meet you!
To be a successful vegetarian, introduce yourself to new meals and ingredients. Plant-based dishes can be delicious, easy to find, and healthy.
- Are you a foodie? Look at restaurants in your area for creative vegetarian dishes. Many cities have fully vegetarian restaurants featuring a diverse menu of interesting foods.
- Are you adventurous? Expand your palate by trying ethnic foods like Indian, Mexican, Thai, and African, all of which have tasty vegetarian dishes.
- Are you a busy parent? Check out Martha Steward’s kid-friendly suggestions or Veg Kitchen’s long list of recipes
- Are you a budding chef? Learn to cook new dishes at home. Grocery store chain, Whole Foods, has a database of gourmet vegetarian recipes to try.
Take the Challenge
Starting a vegetarian diet can be easy to do, and can be a gradual process. It’s helpful to have a support system in friends and family.
To help you get started, we challenge you to take the 3-day B.Komplete Vegetarian Challenge! All you need to do is try three breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners that fall within the type of vegetarian you want to become. Use the recipe sources in this post or stick to your already vegetarian favorites. Then, let us know how you did by leaving a comment below!
Not willing to commit yet? Try out Meatless Monday. A now global movement, this organization encourages people to “once a week, cut the meat.” Their website has a vault of resources to help you commit to reducing overall consumption of meat.