Going vegetarian is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and improve your health. But if you’re not careful, it can also be bad for your long-term health. Here are some tips to help you get started:
If you’re considering going vegetarian, here’s how to do it without damaging your health:
- Find out what foods you need to limit or cut out. Vegetarians who eat dairy products may be able to get enough protein from cheese and milk, but vegans don’t eat any animal products at all. Vegans also have to limit their intake of certain foods that contain vitamin B12 because that vitamin is only found in animal products (such as fish). Vegetarians who eat eggs and/or dairy products may have an easier time meeting their needs for certain nutrients such as calcium and iron.
- Make sure you’re getting enough iron and calcium by taking a multivitamin tablet every day or eating fortified foods such as cereals and soy milk. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you might want to consider taking an iron supplement.
- Get plenty of protein. Protein helps build muscle mass and keep your body running smoothly — just like iron supplements do for anemia patients — so if you don’t get enough from food sources then you may need to take supplements on top of what you’re getting from food. Nuts are great sources of protein and healthy fats, so include nuts in your diet whenever possible
- The best way to go vegetarian is to make a gradual transition from the foods that are familiar to you and your family. During this transition phase, it may be necessary for you to take a multivitamin supplement for at least one month. Once you’ve made the full transition to a vegetarian diet (which includes not eating any animal products), then you can stop taking the vitamin supplement.