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Five Steps to Becoming Vegetarian or Vegan 
 
by Tamiya King August 07, 2005

Thinking about making a change in your diet? Vegetarianism, which is a diet that comes in many forms from vegan, which eliminates all animal products, including dairy, and ovo-lacto, a diet in which only meat is eliminated. Vegetarianism in one of the many methods people are choosing to improve health, increase energy, and reduce the risk of certain diseases. However, if you’re a meat eater, or even if you’re a vegetarian that eats dairy products, you should make the change to vegetarian or vegan diet gradually, so that you won’t shock your body and become inconsistent in your eating habits. Here are ten steps to help you adopt and maintain a healthy vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

#1: Make sure you’re completely aware of your decision.

Why exactly are you becoming vegetarian? Are you trying to lose weight? Is the vegetarian diet recommended by your doctor? Be sure that you know exactly why you’re becoming vegetarian, as well as the benefits of your new diet choice. This will motivate you to actually begin taking action towards becoming vegetarian or vegan. Many vegetarians tend to skip this step when trying to adjust to a vegan diet, and end up getting frustrated with themselves after they discover they don’t have the willpower to stop eating dairy right away. Even though vegetarians may not eat meat, becoming vegan is still a major diet change, and patience is necessary in order for the process to be effective.

#2: Pay attention to how you feel after you eat.

Just because you’ve decided to become vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you’re going to start tomorrow. So, for the next week or so, pay close attention to how you feel after each meal while consuming the foods you normally do. If you tend to feel very sluggish after breakfast, or are unable to concentrate as well after lunch, it could very well be a result of your diet, so think of meal alternatives while you’re adhering to your body’s signs; be sure to write them down so you don’t forget. You may even want to make a list of the pros and cons of vegetarianism, just to keep motivated.

#3: Purchase Vegan and Vegetarian Cookbooks and Magazines.

If you spend money on a cookbook or a vegetarian lifestyle magazine, you’re more likely to actually use it. Browse through the books to look at the presentation of the food, and be sure to read any captions that will tell you about specific nutritional benefits of each meal. This will also give you realistic vegetarian and vegan recipe ideas; sometimes photographs of certain foods can make you feel like preparing the same meal is next to impossible; however, when you see the ingredients, you may not feel so intimidated.

#4: Start eliminating certain things from your diet.

If you’re trying to become vegetarian, try to eliminate one thing from your diet each week, and be sure to have a replacement. If you’re taking beef or pork out of your diet, replace it with chicken or turkey. After a week or so of poultry, try only eating fish. Then, you may be ready to switch to tofu or other soy-based meat substitutes. If you’re becoming vegan, try eliminating one dairy product from your diet per week; it may be easier to start with something you don’t consume on a daily basis. Start with treats like yogurt or ice cream (and replace these things with soy-based products), then gradually move to milk, eggs, and cheese. If you have something to put in the cupboards in place of the items you’re giving up, you’ll be less likely to cheat on your diet.

#5: Take yourself seriously; start living in your new diet.

If you don’t take this diet change seriously, no one else will. Try a new vegetarian recipe each week for dinner, or increase your snack intake daily (of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, of course). When you’re invited to parties or get-togethers, bring a vegetarian dish. If you’re the only one in your house that is converting to a vegetarian diet, set your food aside while you’re cooking for your family. These small changes will let your friends and family know that this change is very important to you, and they’ll be more likely to be supportive if they know you want to stick to it.


 




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