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How to Start Becoming Vegetarian

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is not an easy thing to do, especially if you are used to incorporating meat in your diet your whole life. This article is a vegetarian guide for beginners who are considering cutting off meat from their diet.

study shows that there is an increase of 300% for the last 15 years of Americans following a plant-based diet. Currently, there are about 9.6 million or 3% of the population in the United States.  

Why do people choose to become vegetarians?

There are several reasons why people opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet. This includes the following.

Parental preferences

Our parents have a huge influence on our diet. They are our first dieticians and they guide us on what we should and should not eat. Our parents imposed what dietary customs we should follow, and there are parents who choose that their children should become vegetarians.  

Religious or other beliefs

Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism are just some of the religions that discourage their followers from eating meat. This is their way of promoting non-violence and helps them with their spiritual development.  

Health issues

People who have existing ailments or chronic diseases choose to go vegetarian because of the health benefits this lifestyle offers. Vegetarians have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and they reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.  

Concern over animal rights or the environment

Most vegetarians have compassion for animals and the environment. They believe that animals are like humans and that they have their rights deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration. For them, we should not take advantage of animals for selfish human needs, i.e., food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. 

Also, raising animals for human consumption has negative effects on our environment. An excessive amount of water and methane from raising animals or animal agriculture contributes to global warming.   

Budgetary reasons

Research suggests that vegetarians save at least $750 a year than a meat-eater. Meat can be an expensive source of protein. Vegetarians combine protein from plants with grain products to add amino acids into their diet.

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Types of vegetarian diets

According to an article in Vegetarian Nation, America’s hub for all things vegetarian and vegan, there are seven types of vegetarianism.

1. Vegan

This type of vegetarian diet means that you don’t eat any meat, poultry, or fish. They also don’t consume any of those animal products like eggs, broths, gelatin, honey, cheese, milk, and so on.

2. Lacto vegetarian

This diet is a variation of vegetarianism that excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products but includes certain dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.

3. Ovo vegetarian

Ovo vegetarianism is the contrast to Lacto vegetarianism. This diet allows you to consume eggs, but not dairy products.

4. Lacto-ovo vegetarian

This is probably the most common type of vegetarian. This diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry but includes dairy and eggs.

5. Pescatarian (Pescetarian)

Pescatarians do not consume red meat but incorporating seafood into their diet as the main source of protein.

6. Pollotarian

This diet is considered semi-vegetarian. A proletarian does exclude meat, fish, and seafood consumption but includes poultry in their diet.

7. Flexitarian

Flexitarianism has a less strict diet pattern. This diet encourages eating mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products consumption in moderation.

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How to become a vegetarian: A beginner’s guide

If you want to become a vegetarian without too much trouble, follow these tips:

1. Have a concrete reason why you should go vegetarian

As mentioned earlier, becoming vegetarian is hard, and you would not probably stick with it for too long if you are not serious about it. Therefore, you must have a good reason why you want to become a vegetarian and stay committed to the chosen lifestyle. You may consider the reasons mentioned in this article’s previous section.

2. Research

You need to read and do thorough research about the vegetarian lifestyle before you start. This is because this lifestyle will affect your health and the overall way you will live your life.  

3. Gradually phase the meat out of your diet

A shocking change is effective for some people to help them get out of their old habits. But the most effective way you can do to stop eating meat is to transition smoothly. You can start by eliminating meat from your diet, followed by poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. 

You can also start by becoming flexitarian, then transition to becoming a proletarian, pescatarians, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, Ovo vegetarian, lacto vegetarian, until you become a vegan.

4. Swap ingredients

You can still cook your favorite meal by substituting the meat ingredients with vegetarian meat substitutes. 

Here are simple ingredient swaps for vegan options:

  • For your protein sources like meat, poultry, or fish, you can swap those ingredients with tofu, mushrooms, lentils, jackfruit, tempeh, seitan, and textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  • Substitute beef or chicken stock or broth with vegetable stock or broth.
  • Need milk? Use soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and flax milk instead.

5. Find good vegetarian recipes

The secret for enjoying vegetarian meals is finding a good vegetarian recipe that your palette will truly enjoy. 

6. Find good vegetarian recipes

These days, you don’t need to buy a bunch of vegetarian recipes/cookbooks, although it can still be an option because you can find a lot of vegetarian recipe resources online. 

It can be overwhelming at first to find a recipe that you will like, especially when you are not familiar with how a certain vegetable tastes like. But you don’t have to pressure yourself so much in finding the right recipe. Just find some recipes that look appealing to you and give it a try. You could try one vegan recipe a week, and when you liked it, add it to your vegan recipe collection. 

There are online courses to guide you on vegetarian cooking and living the vegetarian lifestyle, like these two Skill Success courses:

How To Become A Vegan, Vegetarian, Or Flexitarian

This online course will guide you in making an informed choice as to whether you want to be vegan, semi-vegetarian, or something in between. You will learn the basics, tools, and benefits of going vegan, vegetarian, or at least semi-vegetarian.

Lastly, you will learn how to find delicious recipes for FREE and get a basic understanding of the nutritional components needed for health and what are the common issues with a vegan diet.

Healthy Families: Vegetarian Cooking, Nutrition And More

It can be challenging to feed children with vegetarian meals. Learn how to cook healthy vegetarian meals not only for yourself but for your family as well. This course will help guide you, step by step, to create a healthier lifestyle for your children. Discover recipes that are plant-based or have vegan options that will accommodate vegan and vegetarians, but the entire course can be used for any diet.    

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