Vegetarianism and veganism are dietary philosophies that have been around for centuries. Thanks to modern health trends and a number of celebrity endorsements and social media influence, more and more people are transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
This can be a huge and daunting change to make for a lot of people, even after experimenting with ideas like ‘Meatless Mondays’ or choosing vegetarian dishes at restaurants. If you are thinking of making the jump from a carnivorous or omnivorous lifestyle into vegetarianism, then we have five tips that should help you transition to a vegetarian diet.
Start Off Slowly, and Simply
Switching to a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be like flipping a switch. Start slowly by making more and more of your meals, and gradually more full days, meat-free.
It helps if you try to make the foods you would normally enjoy, but with plant-based alternatives to meat or by using a favorite vegetable in place of your normal meat content. Taco Tuesday can still be enjoyed with a vegetarian diet, and a good nut-loaf is a great alternative to meatloaf.
Shift Your Mindset as Well as Your Diet
You aren’t going to get very far with a vegetarian diet if you keep thinking about meat, or missing it. Any change in your life takes commitment, and you are going to have to approach vegetarianism with a positive mindset. This isn’t a challenge or a punishment, but an opportunity.
Instead of centering meals and events around meat, start making plants and vegetables the stars of the show. Pulses like beans and lentils, and whole grains like sorghum and brown rice can give a meal a similar ‘body’ and umami flavor that meat can give a meal; experiment with new ingredients a little.
Make Colorful Meals
Vegetarian meals create an opportunity to make meals that are much more colorful and visually appealing than the browns and beiges of meat eating.
You can also use color to help you identify which plants, fruits, and vegetables are high in which vitamins, giving you the chance to make colorful meals that are filled with vitamins and minerals. Red and orange colors indicate a high vitamin C content and green foods like leaves and peppers are high in vitamins E, B, and K.
You can make a colorful and vitamin-filled lunch platter from different colored bell peppers, celery, and carrots, with a bean dip like hummus at the center. Why not try a fruit tabbouleh on the side?
Read Labels and Look for Hidden Meat Products
Taking vegetarianism seriously means being on the lookout for hidden meat products in all kinds of foods that you may not have thought of before, so get used to checking the labels on products.
You can find gelatin made from meat products in some candies and health products. You may be taking some extra supplements when you start transitioning to a vegetarian diet, and that’s a good idea, but the casings of the supplements may be made with animal gelatin. You can buy empty, vegetarian-friendly capsules made from gelatin, HPMC, and vegetable capsules to use instead. Just swap the contents of a supplement capsule into a vegetarian or vegan-friendly one.
Always Have Some Vegetarian Snacks Handy
When you first make the transition to a vegetarian diet, snacking is going to be one of the biggest hurdles for you to cross that will try and trip you up repeatedly.
Vegetarian snacks are hard to find sometimes in convenience stores and places like the movie theater. You are going to need to prepare and pack your own and keep them handy if you are going to avoid the temptation of a hotdog or a hamburger.
A vegetarian diet is a great way to stay healthy, and have a more positive impact on the environment. Hopefully, these five tips will help ease your transition to a healthier lifestyle.