Vegetarianism, as a diet, can be inspired by ethical, religious, or health means.
Vegetarians don’t eat any meat, but can eat animal products such as milk, eggs, and honey. This is not to be confused with pescetarianism, where fish and seafood is also allowed.
One of the main reasons people are unable to become vegetarian is they don’t know how to give up meat. Let’s break it down:
1.) Acknowledge that it is okay to reduce meat consumption gradually
You don’t have to cut meat off cold-turkey (joke intended)! It is often best to start by reducing consumption of red meat and doing Meatless Mondays. The closer you get to full vegetarianism, the healthier your diet can become.
2.) Realize protein is not as much of an issue as Iron
The first thing people will worry about when you become vegetarian is that you will have a protein deficiency. However, the majority of Americans get 1.5 to 2 times the recommended amount of protein, which can actually be harmful. The real issues for vegetarians are Iron and B12 consumption, both of which are found in often in meat products. Vitamin B12 is found in cheese and eggs. Iron is a little bit more complicated, so if you want more information I suggest taking a look at a paper I wrote. Taking a daily multivitamin is generally recommended, but talking to your doctor at your annual checkup is always a good idea.
3.) Make tasty tofu dishes
Tofu, a soy product, is often characterized as bland because, unlike meat, it does not taste good when served alone. However, tofu is a blank slate for wonderful dishes. Recipes like Saag Tofu or my absolute favorite, Sriracha Peanut Butter Tofu are flavorful and rich. Vegetarianism and self inflicted suffering are most definitely not the same thing.
4.) Tofu is not the only substitute
The heavily vegetarian diets of Asia, most notably India, rely on more than just tofu. Lentils, Chickpeas, and nuts are good sources of protein, and can me made into a main dish. See this ingredient substitution list or this meat product one.
5.) Learn to check labels for certain foods
The largest non-vegetarian product that people overlook is gelatin. Gelatin is a thickening agent made from animal bones found in jello (of course), marshmallows, toaster strudel, cereals, canned soups, Starbursts, Skittles, Junior Mints, yogurt (normally non-Greek), some gummy products, etc. You start to become more keen to what does and what does not as time goes on. Lard, or rendered pig fat, is another product that shows up often. It is found in pre-made pie crusts and refried beans.
6.) Don’t shame other people
Becoming a vegetarian is hard, but don’t brag about it. People are going to be worried about your protein intake, and you should just tell them you’re fine. People near you will also note how they need meat to live.
Just ignore them. This applies to all cases, except for when someone starts saying some dumb comment about how you should eat meat because it is good for you.
Then they bring up something about bacon.
But otherwise, most people are genuinely concerned and base health on what they grew up with. Just be nice.
Did you know Epicurus was a vegetarian? Or that vegetarians have a 35% lower risk for a heart attack than non-vegetarians? Read this Research Paper on the effects of vegetarianism on health.
Have any other vegetarian tips? Comment below.