October 1st kicked off World Vegetarian Month, 31 days devoted to raising awareness about vegetarianism and its benefits. It’s hard to ignore the overwhelming health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Whether you’re a seasoned vegetarian or a carnivore who is trying to add more vegetables to your diet, the month of October is a great time to celebrate vegetarianism with a new veggie-friendly dish, and possibly learn more about what a meatless lifestyle could do for you.
Whether you’re ready to make the leap or simply take a few steps toward reducing meat in your diet, we’ve got some great ideas to help you get started. Making a lifestyle change isn’t something to take lightly, and it rarely comes easily. Here are our 5 first steps toward becoming a vegetarian.
1. Decide which type of vegetarian you want to be
There is more than one way to be a vegetarian. Pescatarians, for example, do not eat meat, but they do still consume fish. Some vegetarians consume eggs (ovo vegetarians), or dairy products (lacto vegetarians), or both (lacto-ovo vegetarians). Vegans, on a side note, do not consume any animal products whatsoever and take care to ensure that all items they consume (makeup, supplements, etc.) are vegan.
2. Find a good resource
If vegetarianism is uncharted territory for you, you’ll probably need a little guidance to get started. There are numerous vegetarian recipes available online (try our Edamame Hummus Wrap– it’s to die for!) and plenty of vegetarian cookbooks. It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes when you make a lifestyle change, even one as personal as diet, it can be difficult for those close to you to get on board. If this is the case for you, it can be really helpful to seek the support of other vegetarians or transitioning vegetarians.
3. Eliminate meat from one meal each week
When you’re ready to make the journey into vegetarianism, starting slowly can be helpful. Begin with eliminating meat from one meal each week, and then two, until you feel comfortable and confident in your new diet. Change the focus on what exciting new fruits and vegetables you can add instead. Take note of how you feel, and track your nutrients closely at first, to ensure you’re getting everything your body needs. Consult your doctor if you have concerns, or if you notice any undesirable changes.
4. Get to know your protein sources
It’s a good idea to do some research on alternative protein sources. It is totally possible to get enough protein while maintaining a vegetarian diet. When you plan your meals, make sure you always include at least one protein source to avoid becoming deficient.
The most common protein sources used by vegetarians are seitan, tofu, lentils, chickpeas and most beans, nutritional yeast, spelt or teff, spirulina, hempseed, green peas, amaranth and quinoa, breads from sprouted grains like Ezekiel, soy milk, oats, wild rice, seeds, nuts, vegetables like broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts and finally the almighty egg (for ovo or lacto-ovo).
This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.