You may be thinking, “Don’t you become a vegetarian by not eating meat?” The simple answer is yes. However, ending meat consumption is not an easy thing. Many Americans began eating meat before their first birthdays. Throughout our lives, meals have been organized around meat as the main dish. It takes a complete paradigm shift to create meals without the use of meat. Gladly, the misconception about vegetarian food being bland is being rampantly debunked as more and more people learn about vegetarianism. Here are 3 things that I believe will help anyone interested in becoming vegetarian:
It’s important to educate yourself regarding vegetarian nutrition when deciding to become vegetarian. Luckily, there are now numerous vegetarian cookbooks, cooking videos, and other resources available through the media. Cookbooks often contain significant nutrition and diet information. Complex B- vitamins, protein, and minerals found in meat can also be found in vegetarian products. Vegetarians should consume diverse fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds to obtain the necessary nutrients. You’ll likely discover types of food that you had never heard of before! Health Science researchers and even the American Medical Association have stated that the vegetarian diet promotes better health than the omnivorous diet. However, it is completely possible for a vegetarian to be unhealthy with a poor diet.
2. Learn to Cook
I’m not saying, strive to become “America’s Next Top Chef,” but it is helpful to know how to cook a few basic vegetarian meals at home. Although more and more restaurants and fast-food establishments are offering vegetarian options, you can save some cash by making your own food. I was unconsciously cooking vegetarian meals for years before becoming vegetarian. Pasta, stir-fry, and sandwiches are a few quick and easy vegetarian meals that can be made at home. You may want to carry some healthy vegetarian snacks like crackers, dried fruit,or trail mix with you when traveling to curb any urge to stop for a burger.
3. Faux Meat
Some vegetarians choose to eat animal by-products like dairy and eggs. Others consume fish. For those who wish to completely avoid animal meat and/or animal by-products, there are several alternatives. Nearly all general grocery stores carry the most popular faux meat option–tofu. Whole Food stores and “natural food” sections of some grocery stores carry things like seitan and textured vegetable protein in the form of patties, nuggets, hot dogs, and ground meat. There are also several companies that produce dairy-free (and egg-free) alternatives to butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, etc. It is important to research the nutritional benefits and precautions to consuming soy and wheat gluten which are a prominent part of many of these products. Faux meat is not a necessity in vegetarian cooking. Portabella mushrooms make excellent burgers!
Many people have experienced better health, more energy, and weight loss with the vegetarian diet. Other vegetarians have gone back to eating meat over time. Diet is a personal choice in which the most important consideration is how you feel and what makes you happy.