Many are wanting to become vegetarian and don't know how. This post will help along that journey.
Your first step on the journey to vegetarianism is to determine your reason for becoming vegetarian. There are possibly as many reasons for moving to a vegetarian lifestyle as there are people in this world. Whatever your motivation is you need to be clear as to why. If you are wanting to become a vegetarian because it seems like a good idea or because your peers or people you look up to are doing it then you need to research, read and listen to as much information as you can on the subject so that you can obtain a more substantial reason for remaining on that path. Whatever reason exists for you, the underlying reason behind most people changing to a vegetarian way of eating is a desire to be healthier. Most persons in the health field concur that a vegetarian lifestyle is a healthier lifestyle.
Ok, so now you've clarified the reason you want to become a vegetarian. Your second step is to decide what type of vegetarian you are going to be. This is not a once and for all decision. As you grow in your healthier lifestyle you may make different choices. There are different types of vegetarians. The basic vegetarian eating plan is one that consists of mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and grains. There are also as many variations of the major type as there are people because it's an individual decision. You are the one who has to determine what you do with your eating plan.
Let's continue. The major types of vegetarians are the ovo-lacto vegetarians, pescatarians, lacto-vegetarians, vegans, ovo-vegetarians and raw vegans. Following is a definition of each of the different types.
- Ovo-lacto vegetarians - Vegetarians who include diary products and eggs in their eating plan.
- Pescatarians - Pescatarians include fish.
- Lacto-vegetarians - Vegetarians who include dairy products in their eating plan.
- Vegans - Eat only plant based foods, no animal products or by-products.
- Ovo-vegetarians - Eat eggs.
- Raw vegans - Eat only raw plant based foods. Raw, meaning foods that are prepared at no higher than 115-120 degrees.
The choice is yours and it doesn't even need a name.
Your third step after deciding what type of vegetarian you are starting out as, you need to start eliminating the unwanted items in your eating plan and add more of the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. There are those who go what is known as cold turkey and remove all the undesirable items right away. Others stop eating one item at a time. For example, you could decide I'm going to stop eating meat on Tuesdays. The next week you add another day and so on. Or another way would be to cut down on the amount of meat in the plate for a week and the next week reduce it even more and so on until you no longer have it in your plate. You could also decide on a type of meat that you will stop eating and eat the others while you wean yourself off the first one. Then the next month you choose another type to stop eating and for that month refrain from both types. Keep on going until all meats are eliminated from your plate. Again the choice is yours.
If you've only associated being a vegetarian with eating big bowls of salad and nothing else, welcome to an exciting journey. Those times have long past and a vegetarian lifestyle is filled with delicious and mouth watering eats and the salads have come a long way. The only boundary is your imagination. From the next step you start to have fun.
Fourth step - Create a menu plan centered around your new eating choices. Get on the internet and search for vegetarian menu plans. Visit the library and check out books on vegetarian cooking, books with vegetarian recipes etc. Start out with vegetables that you already like. Take your favorite vegetable and start looking for different ways to prepare it. Then venture out and experiment with new and different types of vegetables. Try out a few that appeal to you. Try one new vegetable a week. Try a combination you've never tasted before, you might be pleasantly surprised at how delicious it is. Here's a vegetarian food pyramid to give you an idea of the amounts required daily for good health.
This is an important step. The fifth step - Continue learning. One of the keys to maintaining any decision is to keep yourself immersed in the subject. The more you read and listen to materials on the health benefits of different foods and the vegetarian lifestyle, you remain motivated to stick with it especially in the beginning stages. I find that if some time goes by without me reading or listening to something health related I begin to long for foods that I once enjoyed but have decided to eliminate from my eating plan.
The sixth step - Be easy on yourself and those around you. Eating an occasional piece of 'whatever' amidst an otherwise healthy eating plan is okay. Don't allow anyone to make you feel guilty for occasionally indulging(notice I did say occasionally:) ). Go easy on those around you who have not yet made the decision to transition to a vegetarian eating plan. By your example they will be encouraged to take baby steps. Let them notice the weight loss, the increased energy, clearer skin and all the benefits that go with the vegetarian lifestyle. Answer their questions with a non-condemning or self-righteous attitude and share from time to time snippets from articles you read or audios you listen to. Don't bombard them just be open to their questions and occasionally share what you are learning.
The final and most important step. The seventh step - Rejoice in your new decision and enjoy the journey. A vegetarian lifestyle is a fun lifestyle. It's not about what you cannot eat. It's about what you can eat. There are so many options, so many choices, so many dishes, so many delicious recipes. Enjoy the journey!
So there you have it - seven steps to become a vegetarian. That's all I have to share for now. If there is anything I missed or you have any questions that you would like an answer to I would be glad to help. I am not an expert, I just wanted to share what I have learned so far on my journey to being a vegetarian. If I do not know the answer I will gladly research it and get the answer posted. I love to learn and am always doing research on healthy living.
God bless you as you decide to make healthier choices for you and your family.