A lot of research has been done which shows that a plant-based diet, properly combined, provides all the necessary nutrients needed for optimal health. Many people have made the switch to a vegetarian diet for many reasons (health, religious, love for animals) and there are many more persons wanting to make the switch but do not know how to go about it.
If you are one of those persons, these seven Steps to Becoming a Vegetarian will help you to make the transition.
Of course there are some persons who decide to adopt a vegetarian diet and just cut out meat cold turkey. (No pun intended). I lift my hat to them. But not everybody can do that.
For those of you who can’t, these steps will make the process much easier.
You need to have a good reason for wanting to become a vegetarian.
What is your reason? Is it just because so many of your friends are choosing the lifestyle? Or maybe your significant other is a vegetarian and you are trying to impress him/her.
If you are just jumping on the bandwagon and have no real convictions as to the benefits of being a vegetarian, chances are you will not succeed in maintaining this diet.
So first, you need to be convinced of the great benefits of becoming a vegetarian. You might be making the choice because you want to live a healthier life. You have heard of the numerous studies which point out the advantages of a plant based diet.
Or maybe you are currently suffering from some chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and the doctor has recommended a vegetarian diet to manage or reverse these diseases.
Possibly your reason may be that you are totally opposed to the slaughtering of animals for food.
Whatever the reason, it is important that you know why you are making this decision.
Okay. That is out of the way. You are convinced that the vegetarian diet is best for you. Well then, on to Step 2.
Try a vegetarian meal.
Are you perplexed about this suggestion? I am not surprised that you are. But it is actually an important step.
You know why? It’s because some people don’t realize that vegetarian meals are delicious. When they think of vegetarian meals, they think of raw, leafy vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seriously. Even in this day and age some persons are unaware of the variety of delicious meal options that are available to vegetarians.
So why do I say “Try a vegetarian meal”? It is just to put you at ease. You will be so relieved when you realize that the food tastes great after all.
You will find out that the change will not be as terrible as you probably thought………..Well……alright……maybe that wasn’t your issue at all. You already knew that the food was delicious.
But just in case there are a few persons who don’t know, I’d say give it a try. Order a meal from a vegetarian restaurant or maybe your vegetarian friend will be willing to share lunch or dinner with you.
Start collecting some recipes from your friends, from the internet, from books etc.
Watch YouTube videos of vegetarian meals being prepared. I tell you, watching those videos can be very inspiring. You just want to dash off and start trying out the dishes. Some of the recipes are pretty simple and they all look so delicious.
Acclimatize yourself with these recipes and now you are ready for the next step.
This is where you really start to apply the change.
Many non-vegetarians, in their effort to eat more plant food have adopted what they call Meatless Monday. This is where you should be going next.
Maybe you are already there. Maybe you too have Meatless Mondays. That is great. We will just step it up a little.
The aim here is to cut meat out of your diet for one to two days each week. Use the recipes you have collected to come up with delicious vegetarian substitutes.
Now you are going to start cutting meat out of your diet one by one. You can start with any one you wish but I would suggest getting rid of red meat first.
Get use to a vegetarian menu by adding more peas and beans dishes to your meals. Either as side dishes or main dishes.
Increase the meatless days to three times per week.
Next you can move on to getting rid of white meat.
Continue making some of your favourite meat dishes but substitute the meat with a vegetarian option.
Lasagna is delicious. Don’t stop making it. That would be such a culinary deprivation. Go ahead and make your lasagna. But instead of mince meat, substitute vegetables or some of the very popular meat analogues available. Don’t pine over the meatloaf which you cannot have. Make delicious lentil loaf instead.
Increase your meatless days.
Cut out fish.
Well this is the last step. You have effectively cut out all flesh foods from your diet and you are well on your way to a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.
How long will it take
It will take as long or as short as you want. This is not an overnight event. Go as slow or as fast as you can manage.
If you can make the switch over in 3 to 4 weeks, good for you. If it takes you 3 to 4 months that’s great. As a matter of fact don’t worry if it takes even a year. Take your time.
Remember it is not a race, it is a lifestyle.
Of course, these steps are just guides to help you. You can speed up some portions and slow down some portions as it suits you.
Now that you have changed over fully, there are certain things that you must pay attention to.
Firstly, if you completely remove meat from your diet and do not replace it with food that will provide the necessary nutrients, you might very well end up with poor health. You have to ensure that you are eating foods that will provide the necessary nutrition and that you are eating a balanced diet.
Some people unfortunately get rid of one type of food (meat) and fail to replace it with the vegetarian options that will provide the same nutrients. They end up being a bad representation of vegetarians because they are not healthy and do not look healthy.
Secondly, if you suffer from health issues, you should consult your doctor before making dietary changes.
The doctor is very likely going to encourage you in your decision because he knows about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Enjoy the new lifestyle
Whatever your initial reason, the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle is an important and rewarding decision.
Enjoy the healthy and nutritious meals.
A few of the dishes might taste unusual at first but that is just because it is new to you. Don’t worry though. You will soon find yourself developing the taste for vegetarian food and even those things which tasted a little strange at first will begin to taste great over time.
I hope you are now empowered to make the switch.
Health and happiness to you.
I would love to hear about your experiences. Please let me know in the comments section below