9 Important Things To Consider Before Becoming A Vegetarian
Are you planning on becoming a vegetarian? It is a transition that may not be easy without the necessary information.
Giving up on meat can help you lead a healthy life. Maintaining a plant-based diet prevents you from high cholesterol, hypertension and heart problems.
It also reduces your chances of developing certain cancers like breast and colon cancer.
Despite these benefits, making the transition comes with confusion when you don’t know the right substitutes to add to your diet. Before you become a vegetarian, you have to be curious about what kinds of foods you can prepare and where you can get them.
Follow this crucial checklist before making the transition.
1. Take it slow
You don’t wake up one day and eliminate all types of meat from your diet. You have to do it slowly. This is because your body needs some time before adjusting to a meatless diet. If you used to consume meat daily, start by cooking a single meal without meat and add more vegetables in place of meat.
Continue reducing the amount of meat every day and replacing it with veggies until your body feels comfortable with the adjustment. You may face some difficulties during the first week, but you will soon get used to eating food without meat. The cravings take some time to disappear, but they do if you are consistent and disciplined.
2. Take iron
Though meat like liver is a source of iron, becoming a vegetarian does not mean that you give up on iron. You can still get the nutrient from non-meat sources such as green vegetables, legumes, sunflower, eggs and pumpkin seeds. Grains and fortified foods are also healthy sources of iron. Take advantage of raisins, dates, and apricots since they contain iron.
You have to consume a lot of iron because your body takes time before it can absorb this nutrient from non-meat sources. Ladies who are vegetarians need twice the amount of iron compared to men due to factors such as menstruation. Take a lot of vitamin C since it promotes the absorption of iron in the body.
3. You need omega-3s
Most vegetarians prefer cutting down on poultry, meat and even fish. This can deprive your body of sufficient omega 3 fatty acids. Your heart needs this element to function properly.
You should, therefore, turn to sources of the nutrient from foods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts, seaweed as well as hemp. Just like iron, you need to take a lot of omega 3s since they have to go through an additional conversions step for your body to benefit from them.
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4. Avoid junk food
The aim of eliminating meat from your diet is to boost your health. You cannot achieve this if you replace it with junk food. Avoid unhealthy things like refined grains such as pasta and rice. These interfere with the levels of blood sugar in the body and cause insulin resistance.
Stay away from sugary drinks since they are also unhealthy. You need to stick to whole grains like berries, whole wheat, and brown rice to rip the benefits of becoming a vegetarian.
5. You can still get protein
Meat is not the only protein source. You can obtain it from nuts, legumes, beans, seeds as well as soy products like tofu. Soy contains all the right amino acids and is low in saturated fat.
You may not like your first experience with tofu due to its weird texture and taste, but it is a good protein source. Use it to prepare delicious sandwiches, smoothies, cheeses, and even breakfast scrambles. You can also get protein from broccoli, quinoa, and oats.
6. Experiment on all kinds of cuisines
Being a vegetarian can be simple if you are willing to experiment on all types of cuisines. There are numerous recipes for vegetarians that you should know. Be ready to branch out so that you can discover plant-based cuisines to add to your diet.
Visit veggie restaurants and cafes and try out vegetarian options such as the Ethiopian wat. This consists of peas and chickpeas and is delicious and healthy. Try out the Indian Kaeng Kari which is a blend of potato and cauliflower.
These cuisines have a creamy texture and flavors that can spice up your lunch. Different cuisines can help you discover a meal that you enjoy. Feel free to use online sources to learn about the menu of a certain restaurant before hanging out with friends.
7. Pay attention to labels
The first time you shop for meat-free substitutes, you will be surprised about the numerous foods that are labeled “vegetarian.” Doctors reveal that not all foods with this label are nutritious since some are loaded with preservatives and additives.
Take your time during shopping to go through the labels of foods. Confirm that the ones you choose don’t have a long list of chemicals. Choose foods that have very few ingredients that you know of. You can even checkup the components on the internet before purchasing unhealthy substitutes.
Some foods hide fish or meat in the ingredients while others include animal fats and gelatin. Manufacturers include these components to alter the consistency of foods. That is why you must be keen on labels.
8. Equip the kitchen
As you transition into being a vegetarian, you should make some adjustments in your kitchen. Consider investing in tools that can make the change easy for you. For instance, you may need a good blender to make vegetable soups.
You can also budget for a spiralizer to help you prepare foods differently from what you were used to. Chopping boards and good knives can help you chop vegetables easily and reduce the time you take to prepare meals.
9. Ask questions and be open to learn
Everybody has all kinds of questions before transitioning. Asking questions is the only way you can expand your knowledge about the new diet. Consult the doctor to find out if the new diet is okay for your body. You can also learn a lot from dieticians and online vegetarian groups. When you equip yourself relevant information, you will be able to answer questions from meat eaters. Cool right?