According to a poll in January 2022, about 10% of Americans over 18 consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. The sudden rise in popularity of a meat-free lifestyle is attributed to environmental concerns, animal welfare concerns, and increased convenience as new plant-based meats become widely available.
Whether your desire to eliminate or just cut back on meat is based on health, cultural, environmental, or religious reasons, switching to a plant-based diet is a big step.
The easiest way to shift to a vegetarian diet and stick with your changes is to begin gradually to make the transition more comfortable and nutritionally stable. We advise taking these basic steps.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Diet
Before making any significant changes, you should understand your starting point. Keep track of the foods you currently eat. Next, take note of the meals and snacks that are vegetarian.
As you shift your diet to more vegetarian meals, start incorporating vegetarian dishes you already enjoy and alternating them with your old omnivore eating habits.
Step 2: Revise Your Old Favorites
Look at the favorite meals you’ll miss the most when you’re entirely vegetarian. Begin looking for meat-free versions you can also love. For example, spaghetti with meatballs can easily become spaghetti with marinara sauce, or you can find a plant-based substitute for your favorite meatballs.
Step 3: Try New Recipes
As you adjust to your new diet, search for recipes to round out your menus. First, try checking out some vegetarian cookbooks from the library until you find one full of recipes you enjoy. Then, get adventurous in the kitchen with new products and meal ideas.
Step 4: Make the Shift, One Meal at a Time
Many people find that breakfast is the easiest meal to make meatless. You can begin your journey to vegetarianism by eliminating meat in your first meal of the day — and work your way up to all three. Allow yourself some room to adjust as you overhaul your diet.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Current Diet Again
Everyone faces significant challenges in getting the proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables their bodies need. So, take the time to track your eating habits and ensure you’re getting enough grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and variety in your diet.
If your diet lacks certain nutrients, make a list of foods to incorporate to give your body all of the fuel it needs.
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