Making a lifestyle change: Tips on becoming a vegetarian

Oct 21, 2011, 10:26 a.m.

Ready to trade in your hamburgers for salads? The key to any successful dietary change is to gradually incorporate new habits into your daily routine. If you go cold turkey, your body may feel deprived, overwhelmed or frustrated, leading to eventual abandonment of your positive dietary changes. Follow these five tips to successfully make the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle.

Go slowly. Start by eliminating red meat. During the first week, declare one day to be your “vegetarian-only” day. Each subsequent week, give up an additional meat or animal product and increase the number of “vegetarian-only” days until you have fully transitioned.

Substitute. You can still eat the foods you love, just learn to make basic substitutions. For example, try a soy-based ground beef alternative in your favorite chili or meatball recipe.

Know your proteins. Eat a variety of proteins each day, such as soy, beans, nuts, quinoa and certain vegetables. Research show that variety is key, and you don’t need to worry about getting all your proteins in one meal.

Plan ahead. When you first make the transition, going out to eat or visiting your friend's house for dinner can be a challenge. Let your friends know about your lifestyle change, read menus in advance, and bring along your own delicious vegetarian dish to share.

Explore ethnic foods. From Indian and Thai to Moroccan and Ethiopian, ethnic cuisines are a great source for new vegetarian dishes that can spice up your diet.

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