ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Become a Vegetarian

Updated on February 21, 2019
By eating local organic produce the benefits of a healthy vegetarian lifestyle can be multiplied.
By eating local organic produce the benefits of a healthy vegetarian lifestyle can be multiplied. | Source

What are the different kinds of vegetarians?

The first step in becoming a vegetarian is deciding what type of vegetarian that you want to become.

  1. Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: These vegetarians eat a plant-based diet that includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. They also supplement their diet with dairy products and eggs. They exclude meat from their diet. This is probably the most common type of vegetarianism, and many people use it as a stepping stone to becoming vegan.
  2. Lacto-vegetarian: This diet is similar to the diet of a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, but they exclude the eggs while still ingesting the dairy products.
  3. Vegan: Also known as a total vegetarian. Vegans exclude all animal food sources from their diet including fish, eggs, and dairy products. Because of this, they have to be careful about their diet and make sure that they eat a varied diet of different types (and colors) of vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fruits. Otherwise, they run the risk of developing a deficiency in iodine, vitamin b12, iron, calcium, zinc, riboflavin, and vitamin D.
  4. Flexitarian: This is a fairly new term that is catching on in the United States. These tend to be people know the health and environmental benefits of becoming a vegetarian, but don't feel strong enough to make the full switch to vegetarianism. So they decide to begin cutting back on their meat consumption, and they range from having 1 vegan meal a week to living a vegetarian lifestyle but indulging in meat and meat products on special occasions.
  5. Pescatarian: A pescatarian diet is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet that focuses on the basic vegetarian diet, but it also includes the eating of fish while excluding all other animal flesh products.

A vegetarian lifestyle is adopted by many cultures around the world, for many reasons.
A vegetarian lifestyle is adopted by many cultures around the world, for many reasons. | Source

It takes 441 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, while it takes only 14 gallons of water to produce a similar pound of wheat.

Many vegetarians face criticism by clearly unhealthy people about their diet choices
Many vegetarians face criticism by clearly unhealthy people about their diet choices | Source

Why People Choose to Become a Vegetarian

Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism

According to Dr. David Brubaker, Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, "The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides, and drugs. The results are disastrous."

It takes 441 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, while it takes only 14 gallons of water to produce a similar pound of wheat. On an earth that is quickly finding itself at odds with the earth, it's important to use our water wisely. Yet, we continue to steal more water from aquifers than is being replaced by natural rainfall.

Of all the water used in the US, half of the water is used on livestock This water could be much more productive being used to grow sustainable crops instead of meat.

Just as meat production uses larger amounts of water, it also depends on larger amounts of land. Across the world, the land is being cleared to allow for grazing. This deforestation affects the biodiversity and increasing the rate of extinction of many species.

Animal Cruelty

Some people switch to a vegetarian lifestyle because they feel the need to not be a part of the cycle of animal cruelty. The way in which animals are treated in the major slaughterhouses, how dairy cows are treated to harvest milk, and especially how the chicken industry treats egg chickens and chickens for meat affect the conscious of people so that they choose to give up consuming meat or meat products.

PETA has plenty of information on animal cruelty, and which companies have the worse track record for animal cruelty. Be warned, PETA is a little extreme, and not all vegetarians, even the ones who choose to be because of morals against animal cruelty, support PETA's actions.

Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

There are many health benefits of vegetarian lifestyles. Some choose to live the lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight, rid their body of toxins, lowers cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure. Due to the other benefits, a vegetarian lifestyle can also lower the cost of medications and has been shown to cure certain medical problems.

Fruits contain high levels of water, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, as well as very low amounts of fat. Vegetables follow a similar make-up, and unprocessed grains are argued to use more calories to digest than they contain. Nuts do contain fat, however, it is a very beneficial type of fat that combats the dangerous yellow fat that forms around organs and causes major health problems.

The exclusion of toxins added antibiotics, and "pink slime" has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, and in some cases help to heal fatal diseases.

Since the industrial age, people have increased their meat intake, and their intake of processed foods, thus causing increases in self-inflicted medical problems.

Religious Reasons for a Vegetarian Diet

There are two religious groups that exclude meat and animal products from their diet for religious reasons. They are the Seventh-Day Adventists and Muslims. Some Buddhists and Hindus also limit their intake of meat, however, it is not a requirement for the religion. Some followers of the Jewish faith also follow a vegetarian lifestyle to help them keep to their kosher diet.

Why a Vegetarian Diet Can Heal

A vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest in the world, with low intakes of fat and cholesterol. Also, the high fiber, high antioxidant, and high nutrient diet can purge the body of toxins.

Even Oprah agrees that a vegan diet can heal a sick body, specifically that it can help to heal cancer and diabetes. The antioxidants found in a plant-based diet neutralize cancer feeding cells, thus stopping further development and in many cases healing damage.

Many food documentaries support these claims including Forks Over Knives and Food Matters. Both show many instances in which a vegetable-based diet have cured the sick.

The Great Khali, a 7' 1" WWE wrestler, is a strict vegetarian.  His size proves claims that vegetarian children cannot grow "big and strong" completely false.
The Great Khali, a 7' 1" WWE wrestler, is a strict vegetarian. His size proves claims that vegetarian children cannot grow "big and strong" completely false. | Source

How to Become a Vegetarian - Online Support

When starting the switch to a vegetarian diet, it can be difficult, but one of the ways to make it simpler is to try vegetarian versions of foods that you would normally eat. If your a chicken nugget fanatic, try Morning Stars chicken nuggets, a lot of people prefer the taste and texture to normal nuggets. Bonus: they're microwavable, just make sure to let them sit after cooking so that becomes the right texture. There are meatless hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeses, and veganaise (a vegan version of mayonnaise).

There are even a lot of foods that are vegan that you probably already eat. Kool-aid, Fritos, Triscuits, some progressive soups, Pillsbury crescent rolls, and Oreo's are all vegan-friendly. These aren't the healthiest options and are extremely processed, but they can help make the change not feel so difficult.

Online Support

There are plenty of online communities that exist to help support budding vegetarians, as well as veterans of the veggie lifestyle, and these can be a great starting place to get ideas for recipes, how to bring up your changing lifestyle to friends and family members, and more facts and videos to keep your motivation high and not eat that bacon cheeseburger.

Choose Veg offers advice, tons of recipes, facts about the impact of meat consumption and it impacts on the environment, animals, and your health. They also have plenty of advice on how to make the switch smoothly, and foods that are similar to non-vegetarian foods that you regularly eat.

PETA gives plenty of information on how to completely rid yourself of animal products in your food, beauty products, clothes and day to day products. They also offer advice on how to become involved in more ways to help in the ethical treatment of animals.

Vegetarian Times is a magazine that keeps a well-updated website with an online community, articles on all aspects of maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle, and recipes. With my love of almond milk, my personal favorite article is their article on how to make your own plant-based milk. They also have resources on which foods help to heal specific ailments in the body, such as cayenne can be used as an expectorant and can help to reveal a sore throat.

Pinterest and Facebook both offer vegetarian communities. Pinterest is a great place to find vegetarian recipes, and Facebook has many communities of people that can help you with the switch or with any questions that you have.

Food Sources for Important Nutrients in the Vegetarian Diet

  • Calcium: Milk and milk products, fortified soy and almond milk, dark green leafy vegetables such as parsley, kale, mustard, dandelion, and collard greens.
  • Iron: Legumes, dark leafy greens, and other vegetables, whole-grain or enriched cereals and breads, some nuts, and dried fruits.
  • Riboflavin: Milk, legumes, whole grains, and certain vegetables
  • Vitamin B12: Milk and eggs, fortified soy and almond milk, Marmite
  • Zinc: Nuts, beans, wheat germ, and cheese
  • Protein: Eggs, milk, nuts and seeds, legumes, especially soybeans and tofu

How to Plan a Vegetarian Diet

Since meat can provide important nutrients such as protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, alternative need to be included in the vegetarian diet. Meat is replaced with an increase in legumes, such as dried beans, peas, soybean products, nuts, seeds, and milk products. Soy and almond milk can be used to replace cow's milk as a high source of protein and calcium. Soy and almond milk, in fact, has higher levels of calcium and protein than an equal serving of cow's milk. Vitamin-D fortified milk is suggested for optimal absorption of calcium.

Because of vegetarians' restrictive food code, it is of the utmost importance that consumes nutrient-dense foods. The use of whole grains is critical to provide all of the needed essential amino acids for complementary proteins. Empty calorie foods should be avoided unless calorie needs are high and all essential nutrients are being consumed in the diet.

When beginning to plan a switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, it's important to let your friends and family know about your switch, especially if your family is the type to regularly eat together. However, it is important to find an appropriate way to let everyone know, and it may help to find a community, either online or in person, that can help support you through the switch.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Excellent Hub. I learned quite a bit about this lifestyle. Thanks.



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)