With more and more people going vegetarian, it seems like the diet has really taken off. But if you’re considering going vegetarian, you might be wondering how easy it is to actually follow: Is there enough protein in a vegetarian diet? Do vegetarians eat fish? Will I get enough nutrients without meat? If so, read on for answers to these questions and more.
What is vegetarian?
Vegetarianism is a diet that excludes meat, fish, seafood, and poultry. A vegetarian lifestyle also includes eating eggs and dairy products. Vegetarians can be either lacto-ovo or lacto-vegetarian (people who eat dairy products but no eggs), ovo-vegetarian (eat only eggs but no dairy), or vegan (no animal products at all).
Vegetarians include people who follow diets for health reasons and ethical reasons; some are raw food vegans while others consume diets containing animal products such as honey and gelatin.
1. Know your reason for going vegetarian
If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, there is a good chance that you have already thought about some of the reasons why. It may have to do with health benefits or animal rights, for example.
If your reason for becoming a vegetarian is for health reasons, then look into how many people actually become healthier after eating less meat or no meat at all.
You might also want to think about what kind of diet you want—vegetarianism includes several different types of eating patterns (pasta-based diets and veganism being two examples). A lot depends on whether or not you eat eggs and dairy products as well as vegetables; if so then this makes it easier because there will be less restrictions on the food options available to you—but if not then it becomes trickier because those foods can be difficult if not impossible to get hold off!
2. Get informed
The first step to becoming a vegetarian is getting informed. There are plenty of resources that can help you learn more about the lifestyle and what it means to be a vegetarian.
Read up on nutrition. Many people associate vegetarians with being malnourished and underweight, but this isn’t the case for most vegetarians today—many eat balanced diets that are just as nutritious as non-vegetarian diets. Reading up on nutrition will help you understand how to make sure you get enough protein in your diet if you decide not to eat meat again after going vegetarian, or how important it is for vegetarians of all ages (including children) to get enough calcium, iron and B vitamins in their daily diets.*
Learn about food preparation techniques: Most non-vegetarian meals contain meat or other animal products (such as cheese) which makes preparing these kinds of foods very tricky if you’re following a strict vegan diet.*
3. Consider your eating habits and lifestyle.
If you’re considering becoming a vegetarian, it’s important to think about your current eating habits and lifestyle. If you’re already a vegetarian, think about whether there are any changes you’d like to make.
You can still eat a healthy diet by being vegetarian—but it may take some adjustment. When planning meals, make sure that all of your food groups are represented in each meal:
Grains (breads and cereals)
Fruits and vegetables
Milk products (yogurt, cheese)
Meat (poultry, fish) or alternatives when necessary
4. Experiment with foods you know and love
Now that you know a little more about vegetarianism, it’s time to try some new foods. There are so many varieties of vegetables out there! Use the internet to look up recipes and find ones that sound good to you. Try new things with friends and family, but don’t feel bad if they’re not as tasty as you’d hoped. If all else fails, try restaurants that offer vegetarian options on their menus—don’t be afraid!
5. Start slow
Start slow. If you’re a vegetarian, then you can probably relate to how overwhelming it can be to start making significant changes in your diet. After all, there are so many things that go into getting used to vegetarianism—figuring out which foods are safe for you, eliminating cravings for meat, finding new recipes and meal options, etc. And yet at the same time, there are also parts of this lifestyle that might feel easy or natural right away (like not buying meat anymore).
In order to make sure that transitioning into vegetarianism is an experience that sticks with you long-term (as opposed to something fleeting), it’s important not to rush through the process. Instead of diving headfirst into a fully vegan diet overnight—or trying out some strict eating restrictions for just one day—it’s better if you take small steps forward over time by gradually adding vegetarian meals into your diet as needed throughout each week or month. In fact, when people do try out strict diets like Whole30 or Paleo without preparing themselves mentally beforehand with smaller changes first (like starting off by cutting out processed foods before going cold turkey on grains), they often end up quitting because they couldn’t maintain those restrictions long enough without having any support system around them!
Vegetarian diet can be easier to follow than you think
While a vegetarian diet may seem restrictive, it may not be as difficult to follow as you think. If you love to eat out at restaurants and are concerned that a vegetarian diet will limit your options, consider the following:
Many restaurants offer vegetarian meals or can prepare meatless dishes upon request.
Vegetarian meals come in all shapes and sizes—from pasta salads to veggie burgers. You can also ask for any menu item to be made without meat (e.g., “No chicken on my salad”).
Most grocery stores carry a wide variety of tofu products such as soy milk, soy yogurt, tempeh (a fermented food similar in taste and texture to tofu) and seitan (a wheat gluten-based meat substitute). You can also find vegetable-based meats like veggie burgers made from soybeans or jackfruit which is commonly used by many cultures throughout Southeast Asia for its sweet flavor similar to pulled pork or chicken when cooked properly!
While it’s true that there are some foods that may not contain meat but still aren’t vegan because they’re prepared with animal fats like butter or eggs such as baked goods like muffins/cupcakes this doesn’t mean they cannot be enjoyed either! Just make sure you ask before ordering just so there won’t be any surprises later on down the road when someone asks if their birthday cake tastes good 🙂
There are many reasons to go vegetarian and the benefits of doing so can be amazing. You don’t have to give up meat completely, just start slowly by switching out a few meals each week and see how it feels. Even if you do decide later on that this is not the right path for you, at least now there won’t be anything holding you back from trying!