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How to Adapt to a Vegetarian Diet

Updated on August 1, 2009
"Rabbit food" -- so not what vegetarianism is about!
"Rabbit food" -- so not what vegetarianism is about!

So, you've decided to become a vegetarian eh? Congratulations on taking your very first step into making this world a better place! Some new vegetarians may be wondering how to change from a meat-eating diet to one that excludes meat. For those who have previously disliked meat or didn't care about it, the change can be far easier than for those who are accustomed to eating meat rather frequently. Here you will find tips on how to adapt to a new vegeatrian diet, and hopefully stick to it.

Firstly, I find it imperative that I define what a vegetarian is. Most people get vegetarianism and veganism confused. However, while these two lifestyles are similar, there are some very big differences. To start with, vegetarians simply don't eat forms of meat, for example chicken, beef, pork etc. In comparison, vegans not only stay away from the consumption of meat, but do not eat other animal products either. This may include milk, eggs, cheese and even chocolate! Some dedicated vegans don't use animal products altogehter, which involves the exclusion of leather and wool from their wardrobe. There are as many forms of vegetarianism as there are reasons for it. Some people may label themselves as a 'chicken vegetarian', which means that the only meat they eat is vegetarian. Other peope like to be known as 'white-meat vegetarians'.

Sanitarium Vegie Delights -- possibly the best vegetable-based meat replacement range ever.
Sanitarium Vegie Delights -- possibly the best vegetable-based meat replacement range ever.

So now that we have vegetarianism defined, here are some tips on how to adapt to a non-meat diet, and stick to it.

1) Eat 'fake meat'

If previously you have enjoyedthe taste of meat and do not think you could ever stick to being a vegetarian, think again. There are a great range of 'fake meat' products on the market which are made from vegetable proteins and taste just like the real thing. A really good brand is the Sanitarium Vege Delights range. They have foods ranging from schnitzels to sausages and even hot dogs and cold meat. A lot of the products they have actually taste like meat, while the flavour of some foods varies from the original thing. However, they will definitely satisfy the need for a taste of meat, and you won't have to feel guilty about eating it. Also, the fake meat varieties are generally low in fat since they are derived from vegetables. 

2) Experiment in the kitchen!

No, I'm not talking about being sexually deviant here =] What a lot of new vegetarians don't realise is that vegetarian food doesn't have to be flavourless and unenjoyable. Yes, meat does add a lot of flavour to a dish, but there are great ways to get a nice taste sensation without using animal products. Becomig a vegetarian may open a door to a world of culinary delights you have never experienced before. If you're concerned about eating flavourless vegetarian food, try using a lot of tomatoes in your cooking, or whipping up a great dressing for that lunch-time salad.

3) Eating out

 Becoming a vegetarian does not mean that you can't go out for a social meal with friends anymore. While eating out with friends, you may be tempted to give into peer pressure or advertisements for dishes inclusive of meat. However, many restaurants these days have vegetarian options just for you. If you can't find a nice vegetarian burger or pasta, you can always opt for the salad and chips. Most places will do this for you, even if its not on the menu, since they usually sell salad and chips as a side. Just make sure to stipulate you want your food to cover the whole plate.

4) Being a good vegetarian 

The best way to adapt to a vegetarian diet is to do it the right way. I know that sounds silly, but you'd be surprised at how many vegetarians are sitting around eating cheese sandwiches and hash browns. This is most definitely not the way a vegetarian should be eating, and while ok as occasional treats, by constantly eating such foods, not only are you limiting the nutrients you receive, but are setting yourself up for failure at vegetarianism. The way to longevity with a vegetarian diet is to get out there and experience all the yummy, meat-free foods you can. 

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    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Adapting to a vegetarian diet can actually be tough. It can be particularly unsettling for those who become vegetarian to "lose weight." Weight loss is not automatic, especially if the individual just ends up eating too much pasta, grains, starches, and not enough fruits, vegetables, etc.

      Thanks for sharing this information and advice!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      I became a vegetarian due to health reasons. I have lupus and other health problems. Since I eliminated meat and everything white, ie milk product, white grains 9 weeks ago, I have been able to get off my chemo medicine with no lupus flare-up and my lungs have remarkedly improved. The craving for ice cream took about 2 weeks to stop! I like your article and the video is adoable.

    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Good work. Thank you for answering my request! :o)