As humanity wakes up to the suffering of animals, humans and the environment as a direct result of meat production and consumption, more and more people are moving away from a diet based around animal protein and toward the vegetarian lifestyles. Implementing gradual change is a simple method for sticking to the diet by slowly discovering and incorporating nutritious and delicious vegetarian foods.
Choosing not to eat meat that comes from factory farms is the first, most obvious step to becoming part of the solution. While cutting out all meat “cold turkey” may be unrealistic, even cutting back by 50 percent, when done on a large scale by millions of people, will make a significant difference to our Mother Earth.
Review your current diet by jotting down a list of vegetarian foods that you regularly eat and enjoy. Incorporate these foods as well as a variety of whole grains, fresh and dried fruits, and fresh vegetables and beans into your daily diet. Boost your vegetable intake by adding them to soup, pasta or rice dishes.
Invest in a good vegetarian cookbook or search online for recipes and meal ideas. Expand your repertoire to encompass international cuisines like Thai, Japanese Indian and Middle Eastern that boast tons of colorful vegetarian options.
If you don’t already, start reading food labels since some seemingly vegetarian foods may contain lard, chicken broth or gelatin. Don’t buy into the myth that vegetarians can't get enough protein in their diets. Most people’s protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant proteins (whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts) and consuming enough calories.
Cook with healthy fats such as coconut and olive oil, which are rich in good fats. Experiment with marinating, sauteing, baking or grilling soy-based foods such as tofu and tempeh.
Try one new vegetarian recipe a week. If you like it, add it to your rotation. If not, experiment with another new dish the following week. Soon, you’ll have several great recipes that you love to cook and eat.
In addition to sliced fruits and veggies, there are loads of other tasty vegetarian snacks such as almonds, hummus, blue corn chips and salsa, granola, whole-grain cereals, flax crackers and more. Keep plenty around to munch on at home, at the office and on the road.
Don’t make becoming a vegetarian an ordeal. If you feel like you’re depriving yourself, you won’t last long. But if you feel like you’re doing something good, you’ll stick with it for much longer. Remember to enjoy yourself along the way!