So you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian? Good for you! Whether it’s for health reasons or a personal decision, becoming a vegetarian can be a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. So how do you go about doing it? Can you just cut all the meat out of your diet? It isn’t quite that simple. There are a lot of important nutrients found in meat that you are going to get sick without. Fear not though because there are plenty of ways to get those nutrients without eating meat.
The first question you should ask yourself is where are you going to get your protein. This is not as hard of a question as you might think to answer but it does need answering. Despite popular belief, meat and protein are not mutually exclusive. There are many veggies that contain proteins so you just need to find the ones that work best for you. Soy products are the most popular protein supplements because they are the closest vegetable proteins to meat proteins but there are tons of options to choose from.
Does becoming vegetarian mean giving up all your favorite meat based foods?Certainly not, unless your favorite food is steak. There are tons of vegetarian alternatives to all your favorite recipes and a quick Google search can help you find them. Veggie burgers are usually the first thing that comes to mind but there is a large variety of them as well. Don’t want to eat a tofu burger? That’s fine. Try a black bean burger? Or maybe you would rather try a mixed vegetable patty? The possibilities are all up to you. Do you love ravioli? Replace the meat and cheese with tofu and spinach. It is just that easy.
Are you worried about all the foods you can’t have? How about focusing on what you can have. Make vegetables the stars of your meals. Nature provides hundreds of different flavors through fruits and vegetables and now is your chance to try as many of them as you can. With the increase in popularity of vegetarianism and veganism over the years there are dozens of cookbooks and thousands of websites dedicated to original and delicious vegetarian recipes. Don’t worry you won’t be missing out on good food.
Will I have to eat less now that I’m eating differently?Yes. You have to eat more if you are taking out meat. Many vegetarians think they can eat the same amount as always when they cut out meat but this just isn’t true. Cutting out meat will cause a huge change in your caloric intake. You need to eat more or you are going to be hungry. Think about it like this; you are going from eating a sandwich with ham, cheese, tomato, and lettuce to eating a sandwich with only lettuce and tomato. This is why substitution is a better option that just cutting everything out. Don’t just get rid of the ham and cheese, find something to replace it.
How will this affect my body? One of the noted benefits of going vegetarian is the wonderful effects it can have on your overall health. People who become vegetarians have been documented to have lower cholesterol and increased happiness. However this does not mean that you should just assume everything is fine and ignore the signals your body is sending you. Does something not feel good in your stomach when you eat it? Don’t eat that anymore. Do you find yourself craving food you used to eat? Try and figure out what part of that burger you’re really craving. Is it the salt? Is it the fat? Find out what you want from the burger and fill that need with you can eat with your diet. If you feel hungry, then eat.
Yes there are some pitfalls from adopting a vegetarian diet. It will be hard at first but everything that’s worth it is. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a big change in your diet. As long as you are smart about it and careful about planning your diet, becoming a vegetarian can be a very rewarding and healthy life choice.