Are you thinking of embracing the vegetarian lifestyle and quitting meat entirely? Or perhaps, you are toying with the idea of reducing your consumption of meat and adding more vegetables to your diet.
Regardless of whether you want to go all-out vegan, or simply dip your toes into the vegetarian diet, it is important to focus on making your lifestyle comfortable, sustainable and when it comes to food, delicious and satiating.
In this article, we will walk you through some essentials tips and tricks to help you embrace the vegetarian lifestyle with a focus on sustainability, comfort and your body’s nutrient requirements.
22 Things To Know Before Stop Eating Meat
Here’s everything you need to know before going vegan:
1. Be Mindful of your Nutrients
The greatest dilemma of eliminating meat from your diet or even reducing it, you should ensure that your new vegetarian diet does not lack sufficient amounts of Vitamins B12 and D, protein, iron and calcium amongst other nutrients. These are the major nutrients that vegetables often contain less of, and therefore, it is important to focus on adding more of these nutrients to your vegetarian diet.
You can always download an easy-to-use smartphone app, such as Wholesome, where you can list down all the ingredients of your everyday meals and note down your daily recommend dosage of all the essential nutrients. These apps will also help you whip up delicious recipes and tips for food items to help you obtain all your nutrients.
2. Take Small Steps
Starting your journey to become a vegetarian doesn’t require rigidity or extreme control, and you don’t have to give your 100% from the very beginning. It is important to take small baby steps and embrace your new lifestyle by experimenting and mixing up animal meat with plant-based foods. This will help you become accustomed to eating more vegetables and lentils.
For instance, if you are a huge fan of beef burgers, try grilling your patties with some lentils and mushrooms added to the beefy mixture to help you taste buds get accustomed to the change. You can reinvent your chill mixture by adding more beans and lentils and reducing the amount of beef, and similarly, tacos can be devoured with colorful bell peppers, beans and even quinoa.
3. More Iron for Vegetarians
Research reveals that vegetarians need to consume twice the amount of iron as compared to non-vegetarians in order to ensure you don’t end up with an iron deficiency. There are two basic kinds of iron, one that is derived from animal-based foods, and the other that can be obtained from plants and grains.
The iron obtained from grains and plants is not readily absorbed by the body as compared to animal-based iron, so, vegetarians need to add more iron to their daily diet to meet their daily recommended dosage of this essential mineral.
Plant-based sources of iron include spinach, kale, soy, lentils and beans amongst others. It is highly recommended to focus on whipping up delicious and savory recipes to make you fall in love with veggies, such as a kale and black bean burrito, or a spinach and beans casserole.
4. More & More Smoothies
As a vegetarian, it is highly recommended to pick out smoothies instead of juices as they pack up more fiber, nutrients and minerals. Come to think of it, smoothies are an excellently energizing trick to pack up your body with the goodness of fruits, vegetables, and seeds without spending too much time in the kitchen.
5. Steer Clear of Protein Powder
Even though protein powder is highly popular in nutrition circles, it simply cannot offer the same nutritional value that can only be obtained from natural protein-based foods. Not that there’s a problem with consuming protein powder, but before you pick out supplements, be sure to invest in natural food based sources of the nutrients. You can add protein to your diet through delicious foods like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, and peanut and almond butters.
6. Beans & Lentils
Vegetarians are highly recommended to add beans and lentils to their everyday diet, and it is important to experiment with some savory recipes that make you fall in love with lentils.
Beans and lentils are brimming with essential nutrients and minerals, including protein, iron and fiber. One meal of beans will help you feel more energized and satiated for longer hours.
7. Vitamin C & Iron
Vitamin C and iron make a powerful combination of energizing nutrients, and that is primarily because vitamin C makes the body absorb iron more readily. You can make this combo by simply pairing up some blueberries with your oatmeal, or adding bell peppers to your bowl of spinach.
Eating iron by itself will take time in allowing the body to absorb and make use of this nutrient, but if you pair it up with vitamin C, your body will be able to absorb it more readily and efficiently.
8. More Protein for an Active Lifestyle
Experts believe that the amount of protein an individual’s body requires depends entirely on how active their lifestyles are. If your lifestyle is not that active, you should aim for consuming at least a gram of protein for every kilogram of your body weight, or even slightly less than that.
You can obtain your weight measurements in kilograms by simply multiplying it with 0.8, which should provide you with the grams of protein you need to consume. For instance, if a 100 pound woman weighs 60 kilograms, you multiply 60 by 0.8, which gives you around 48 grams of protein a day. Realistically, you should aim for at least 35-40 grams of protein.
When your physical activity increases, the amount of protein your body needs also increases. If you exercise regularly, or you are a competitive athlete, body builder, or mountain climber, you need to multiply your body weight in kilograms by 1.6-2.2. Experts recommend completive athletes to consume at least 100-150 grams of protein a day.
9. Calcium-Rich Veggies
Dairy products are not the only source of calcium, although milk and yogurt are brimming with the largest concentrations of this bone-strengthening nutrient. You can add calcium to your daily diet by consuming soybeans, kale, broccoli, spinach, collard greens and almonds.
10. Eggs are Indispensable
Eggs are indeed one of the most versatile of all superfoods available to mankind, and if they are not a part of your diet, try to add them if you can.
Eggs are loaded with protein, and one egg can give your body a whopping seven grams of protein.
You can whip up eggs into countless recipes, such as boiled, scrambled, omelets and even baked goods and casseroles.
11. Alternatives for Eggs
If you have adopted a vegetarian diet, or don’t eat eggs for some other reason, it is important to pick out other protein-dense alternatives, such as tofu, tempeh or Greek yogurt.
12. Mason Jars Salads
Want to prepare your luncheons for the entire week so you can save time and focus on other things? Invest in mason jars, as they will make it much easier for you to make pre-prepared salads and meals ahead for the week.
You can do your preparations on Sunday, and consume the salads throughout the week.
13. Homemade Salad Dressing
It is important to start making your own salad dressings at home using natural ingredients. You see, store-bought salad dressings are loaded with sodium, sugar and artificial preservatives. Instead, you can whip up your own healthy and nutrient-rich salad dressings with a few simple ingredients, like olive oil, lemon and soya sauce.
14. Vitamin D Supplement
Vegetarians are widely recommended to invest in suitable Vitamin D supplements, particularly when the cold wintry winds start to blow. You see, without consuming any meat or getting ample sunlight, it is impossible to obtain your recommended dosage requirement of vitamin D.
Even if you consume dairy products, you still cannot effectively meet your vitamin D requirements, so be sure to consult your dietitian or nutritionist for a supplement.
15. Dense variety of Protein
Vegetarians are strongly advised to keep track of their protein intake in order to avoid a deficiency, and to add a variety of protein-based foods to their daily diet. Proteins are loaded with essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. And in order to create a beneficial combination of multiple kinds of amino acids, it is important to mix up your protein sources and add more variety.
Quinoa is a protein-dense food, but you can’t eat it every single day, now can you? Add more protein to your diet in the form of vegetables and foods, such as hummus, tempeh, tofu, beans, and certain vegetables.
Hummus, made with chickpeas, olive oil and tahini sauce, is an excellent trick to add fiber, protein and iron to your daily diet. This delicious Middle Eastern dip sauce is a savory treat that you can devour with raw cucumbers, avocados and even some whole wheat bread.
You can give your hummus a delicious and nutrient-rich twist by adding veggies like roasted peppers, beetroot, spinach and more.
17. Protein-Powered Snacks
It is extremely important for vegetarians to remain full and satiated in order to avoid untimely carb and meat cravings, and this can be achieved by having well-timed protein powered snacks throughout the day. If you have multiple high-protein snacks during the day, it will help you stay energetic and active, and avoid those mid-day slumps.
You can pick out dried edamame for a protein-powered snack that you can munch on your desk, while seasoned sunflower seeds, and peanut or almond butter with apple slices and fruits would also make a crunchy treat. If you haven’t given up on dairy products, you can snack on string cheese, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt with berries.
18. Stock up on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Vegetarians are strongly advised to be mindful about their consumption of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a kind of unsaturated fat, which aids in fortifying the health and strength of the heart, energizing the body and fighting off inflammation.
Fish packs up the highest concentration of omega-3s but vegetarians can consume this essential nutrient from walnuts, soybean oil, flaxseed and canola oil. Ground flaxseeds and soybeans are also brimming with omega-3s.
Here’s an easy trick: just toss some flaxseeds into your juices and smoothies to consume your nutrients on the-go.
19. Steaming instead of Boiling
Most people are not aware of the fact that steaming vegetables is more efficient at preserving the nutrients as opposed to boiling them. Research reveals that boiling vegetables causes the vitamins to evaporate with the water. Unless you are making a stew or a soup, there’s simply no point of boiling vegetables if you are going to drain the water, as you will end up losing the essential nutrients that make them so healthy.
Instead, steam them and enjoy your favorite veggies with an easy-to-cook process. If you don’t like the taste of steam veggies, and would rather prefer boil or stir fried vegetables, don’t force yourself. It is important to consume your vegetables in a manner that you find most comfortable and delicious. You can choose your pick between steaming, boiling or even microwaving.
20. Must-Haves: Slow Cookers & Blenders
Even though investing in any specific range of cooking tools and gadgets isn’t necessary to embrace the vegan lifestyle, a slow cooker will certainly make your life a great deal easier. Similarly, investing in a blender will also allow you to make the best of all the ingredients available to you.
A slow cooker is an excellent tool for busy peeps who don’t have enough time for meal preps, as it allows you to make a lot of delicious one-pot meals, along with preparing lentils and beans. A blender is another remarkable gadget that will help you create savory smoothies with your favorite veggies and fruits.
21. In-Season & Local Produce
It is important to pick out produce that is locally-farmed and in season to avoid unnecessary chemicals and preservatives. Vegetarians are always reminded of their true purpose behind this lifestyle change, which is primarily to focus and reflect upon their dietary choices, sources and environment.
If you want to be a vegetarian to give back to the environment and community, it is important to focus on consuming locally grown and in-season produce.
22. Plan Ahead for a Sustainable Lifestyle
Becoming a vegetarian requires you to alter your lifestyle and your choices, and you will have to put in the work require to make this process easy, sustainable and effortless. It isn’t easy to change your dietary habits, and you will have to plan ahead, particularly in the start.
The trick is to experiment with easy recipes that are delicious and win over your taste buds. Meal preparation and timings are another important aspect, and visualizing your meals for the entire week can help you plan ahead.
Here at HealthZone, we have a strict policy regarding medicinal content and relies only on peer-reviewed studies. We make sure to avoid tertiary references and bring forth the best studies available. You can learn about our sourcing by checking out our editorial policy.
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