Tips for Going Vegetarian & How It...

Tips for Going Vegetarian & How It Can Better Your Health and the Planet (French version available)

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By Avreet Jagdev

People choose to go vegetarian for many reasons – some do so for their religion, others for health purposes, and some for the animals and the environment. No matter what your reasons may be, being vegetarian has a multitude of benefits — not only for your health, but for the world around you as well.

Harvard research shows that since vegetarians consume less saturated fat and cholesterol than those who have meat in their diets, they are at less of a risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

That’s not all — being vegetarian is good for the environment, and can in fact help slow climate change, reduce water pollution, and reduce wildlife habitat destruction and deforestation. Raising livestock leads to a very large amount of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming; a reduced demand of meat decreases livestock production, which means that these harmful emissions are reduced as well.

However, it’s a big change to make, especially if you are accustomed to eating meat. This can make it difficult and intimidating to know where or how to start. Here’s some tips to make the process a little bit easier:

Start by going meatless a couple days of the week

Instead of going vegetarian overnight, try choosing a couple days of the week where you don’t eat meat (like meatless Monday)! This will make the process easier and less intimidating. As you become more accustomed to not eating meat, you can add more and more meatless days, until it eventually becomes all seven days of the week!

Cutting out one thing at a time

Similar to the last tip, don’t feel pressured to cut all meat out of your diet at once. Instead, try taking small steps by cutting out one type of meat at a time. For example, you can start by limiting how much red meat you eat. Once you become used to this, you can cut out chicken, and so on.

Get creative with your recipes

The good news is, almost any one of your favorite meat dishes can be made vegetarian, or even vegan! Get creative with your plant-based alternatives. Instead of chicken, try seitan or shredded tofu. Experiment with different brands of vegan ground beef for your favorite taco recipe, until you find what works best!

Use this as an opportunity to branch out

On another note, instead of sticking to meat-based recipes, use your new diet as an opportunity to branch out completely. Many cultures around the world have primarily vegetarian cuisines or cuisines that are super vegetarian-friendly, such as in South Asia. Try your hand at cooking a traditional vegetarian recipe from a new cultural cuisine!

When eating out, don’t be afraid to ask for modifications

Eating out can be anxiety-inducing for someone who is a new vegetarian, but know that servers and chefs are more than used to accommodation requests, and most of them will happily swap out a meat based component of an item for a vegetarian one! All you have to do is ask.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself

Lastly, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Switching to a plant-based diet is a large task, and it’s normal for you to have your ups and downs. The most important thing is that you stick to it!

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