Being a vegetarian has now become mainstream. Many people of all ages from all over the world choose not to eat meat, while others eliminate fish and dairy products altogether, opting for a plant-based diet.
Restaurants and other food services have already adjusted to the change, providing a vast range of vegetarian dishes. It seems like vegetarianism is conquering the world. If you are thinking about switching to a vegetarian diet yourself, here’s everything you need to know in order to make the transition as smooth as possible:
Reasons to become a vegetarian
There are several reasons for which one can decide to become a vegetarian. The most obvious and, perhaps, popular reason, is the love for animals. In the recent decades, many unpleasant facts have been exposed regarding animal treatment in farms and factories with the help of documentary films. These have led to many protests against animal cruelty; many people have stopped buying meat.
Other reasons may include religious practices, spiritual factors, and health reasons. For instance, people who have elevated testosterone levels may refuse to eat meat and switch to soy-based products in order to stay healthy.
The obvious advantages of a vegetarian diet are the health benefits, as you reduce the amount of fat you consume. As a result, you may lose weight, normalize blood pressure, and reduce the risk of many types of cancer. However, it is important to take note of the cons as well – the main challenge is having to watch your diet carefully in order to keep the nutrients balanced.
What does being a vegetarian mean?
The first and most common mistake that many newcomers make is that they don’t keep track of their daily intake of nutrients. If a person refuses to eat particular foods, this often leads to them eating less during the day. Moreover, the proportion of nutrients intake is not balanced out. If you want to switch to a vegetarian diet and stay healthy, it is important to pay attention to how much protein you consume during the day, watch your iron (meat is rich in iron), potassium and other vital nutrients’ intake levels.
Being a vegetarian means that you need to say no to certain types of products too. Depending on the products they consume, there are several types of vegetarians. Some people refuse to eat meat and fish, but leave eggs and dairy products in their diet; these are called lactoovovegetarians. Some refuse to eat all animal-origin products; these are called vegans. Some refuse to eat meat but eat fish. The choice is up to you. It can be very hard to give up on some of the products that we particularly love, and a smooth transition is a great solution for this.
Switching to a vegetarian diet requires inner motivation and principles. Most of us choose to be vegetarians not because it is in vogue, or because others will see how caring or spiritual we are, but because we genuinely believe in some core principles that constitute a vegetarian culture. This culture implies that you stay vegetarian at all times, in all countries, even away from everyone’s eyes, because you genuinely believe in your cause. Before switching to a vegetarian diet, it is important to ask yourself why you want to do it in order to avoid unnecessary disappointment along the way.
How to make a painless transition to a vegetable-based diet
Here are some useful tips for a quick and painless transition to a vegetarian lifestyle:
- The best season for turning into a vegetarian is summer. This period is rich in various vegetables and fruits and metabolic processes are improving, so the risk of stress will be minimal.
- Together with meat, it is better to stay away from sugar, as well as from fast food and carbonated drinks, since they have no place in the diet of a healthy person. Moreover, you can substitute any sweets with dried fruits and honey.
- Do not forget about cereals. Along with vegetables, fruits and nuts, they will help diversify the diet and make up for the lack of valuable nutrients, particularly B vitamins.
- Add spices to your dishes to change the taste. However, you need to choose those that do not contain additives or flavor enhancers.
- Listen to your body. Changing your diet can be uncomfortable. If even after a considerable amount of time, you still feel that you need meat, this means that you are probably not getting enough protein from your diet.
- Remember that not all vegetarian food is useful. Vegetarian fast food like fried potatoes and soy burgers can bring more harm than lean meat.
- Consult a nutritionist. When you switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, make sure you add a good vitamin complex to your diet.
- Believe in yourself and try not to stray from your path. At the beginning of your transition to a vegetarian diet, the digestive system still produces as many enzymes and juices as necessary for digesting coarse meat fibers.
It is perfectly possible to lead a healthy long life being a vegetarian. The two most important things are a healthy diet and your mental preparedness to live an animal-friendly life.
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