The best way to becoming healthier is to turn vegetarian. However, to see this decision through is a difficult, especially if you have been eating meat for most of your life. Recent studies suggest that a vegetarian diet is healthier compared to a typical animal-based one. Here is what you need to know on how to become a vegetarian.
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
To know how to become a vegetarian, it is important to first know what a vegetarian diet is like. Vegetarianism is a diet where no meat is consumed. Vegetarians subsist on vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and legumes.
What are the Different Types of Vegetarians?
The different types vegetarians are:
- Total vegetarians: They eat only plant food. They do not eat any animal foods, including fish, eggs, dairy products, and honey.
- Vegans: They not only omit all animal products from their diets, but they also eliminate them from their daily life. Vegans do not use leather, wool, and silk or any other animal product .
- Lacto-vegetarians: They include dairy products into their diet of plant food.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: They eat both eggs and dairy products.
- Fruitarians: They, as the name suggests, consume mainly fruits or plants.
Why Become a Vegetarian?
There are many reasons to become a vegetarian:
- To reduce cholesterol and fat from your diet thus helping weight loss.
- To protect animals.
- To reduce the chances of food poisoning.
- To save money since meat is more expensive etc.
How to become a vegetarian?
If you would like to become a vegetarian here are a few suggestions:
- Plan: You need to first think about why you want to become a vegetarian, and really believe in it. Find out where your motivation lies. In case you need some help, check out a couple of good books or browse through the Internet.
- Gradually reduce meat: The biggest blunder most people make on their path towards becoming a vegetarian is going too fast. When making the change from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian diet, it’s best to start slowly to allow your body, brain, and taste buds to slowly adjust to your new diet. Try regular recipes that you love, but instead of using meat, use a meatless substitute like tofu or mushrooms.
- Increase your vegetable consumption: The body needs an adequate amount of vegetables so that it receives enough nutrition in the diet. Within a couple of weeks, you should be consuming at least six servings of vegetables per day.
- Try variety: You must eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you don’t offer your body a variety of foods, you will quickly get bored. A vegetarian diet has the potential to be incredibly varied and satisfying. Arming yourself with new recipes and cookbooks will go a long way.
- Quit meat, one at a time: Start with red meat, as it is typically the least healthy. Once you are successful at that then try cutting out white meat and then cut out the seafood.
- Reduce your consumption of meat gradually: Cut down on your regularity of meat consumption. If you generally eat it every day, cut down to five times a week, then three, and see how it goes.
- Maintain adequate protein intake: Although a diet without meat can drop your protein intake, it can be derived from a variety of other vegetarian sources like soy. It is important to track and monitor your servings of protein at the beginning of a vegetarian diet.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in vegetarians as there are very few plant sources for it. Common sources are low-fat milks and yogurt and/or B12 fortified foods such as commercial cereals, meat analogs, and soy milk. You can also use a B12 supplement to maintain adequate levels.
- Iron: The vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not that well absorbed, thus vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. Fortunately, many vegetables such as broccoli and spinach that are high in iron and vitamin C so that the iron in these foods is very well absorbed.
- Omega 3: Vegetarians and vegans, like everyone else, need a source of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Your daily intake can come from olive oil, leafy green vegetables (like spinach), pumpkin seeds, soybeans and flax seeds.
- Inform others: If you are committed to making a change, the people around you should be aware of it. Tell your loved ones why you became a vegetarian. Keep a positive outlook and they will eventually understand.
- Read food labels: You’ll be surprised how many non-meat foods contain meat-derivatives, like animal fats or gelatin. There are also plenty of other foods you’d be surprised and pleased to find out are suitable for you.
After you understand the benefits of a vegetarian diet, the question,” how to become a vegetarian” ? should not bother you. As a new vegetarian it is understandable for you to go through challenges, but you can conquer them with willpower, strength of mind and knowledge. At the end of the day your health is worth it.