How to Become a Vegetarian Including What to Eat

If you’re wondering How to Become a Vegetarian, this informative post breaks it down! You’ll love these easy-to-follow tips for How to Go Vegetarian. Learn about vegetarian health benefits and get a vegetarian diet plan too! In addition, see alternatives to being a 100% veggie eater as a way to ease into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

A veggie burger on a plate next to chips with this text above it: How to become a vegetarian.

A vegetarian is a person who won’t eat anything that can have children. — David Brenner

How to Start a Vegetarian Diet

I tried for years to become vegetarian, and I also failed miserably at it too.

I would start vegetarian and it would last for awhile. Maybe a few days? A week? And then I’d give it up when the next family dinner rolled around.

Or if we went out with friends.

Or I had a stubbed toe, or any other little excuse that came to mind.

I mean, I think it just took me awhile to work up the nerve to say the words, “I’m a vegetarian.” Living in the Midwest meat is a big deal here and I was a little too worried about what others would think of me. I’ve since learned the value of Not Being a Doormat and saying what I think.

I’m recovered from that condition now. In fact, I even took it one step further and became vegan.

Learning Through Failing

However, the beautiful thing about failing at something is that you learn a lot too. As a result I compiled  some resources with tips for becoming vegetarian that you can use to help going through the same thing.

Of course, there are some great reasons I think being a vegetarian is a great way to live. So, here are the resources on how to do it.

Reasons for Going Vegetarian

So, when I finally made the big switch, it helped to really understand why I wanted to turn vegetarian. Here are some of the reasons that motivated me:

  • Meat is gross. I’m sorry, I’m starting here because it’s true. Can you imagine eating your dog? Your cat? Of course not! But they do that in other parts of the world. Millions of cats and dogs around the world are kept in cages and slaughtered or their meat. People go to the market and pick the one they want to take home and cook for dinner. It’s hard to imagine that. Eating the flesh of any animal is gross, whether it be pig, cow, chicken, dog, cat, or gecko.
  • Vegetables are Cholesterol Free! You can eat as many vegetables as you want and not worry about cholesterol.
  • Veggie is Green! Meat has a heavy carbon footprint. The Environmental Defense Fund suggests that, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.”
  • Don’t Support Industrial Farming. Factory farming has found a way to turn cows, pigs and chickens into production units and the result isn’t pretty. Today over 9 billion animals are slaughtered each year. Linda McCartney once said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls the whole world would be vegetarian.” Don’t give factory farms your dollar vote!
  • Weight Loss. Studies show that vegetarians weigh less. Dr. Dean Ornish calls the vegetarian diet the “eat more, weigh less” strategy for weight loss. Learn more about veggie diets and weight loss.

Alternatives to 100% Veggie

Most people can benefit from having at least some meals that are meat-free. Other alternatives to going 100% veggie include:

  • Meat-Free Mondays. The goal is to experience one meat-free day a week. Monday is good alliteration, but if another day of the week works best for you, that’s fine. Learn more about Meat-Free Mondays.
  • Weekday Vegetarian. Graham Hill spoke at a TED conference about his Weekday Vegetarian program where (you guessed it) he’s vegetarian Monday-Friday. You can learn more about Weekday Vegetarians on Tree Hugger.
  • Almost Meatless. Another resource that can be helpful in a transition to more vegetarian dining, includes Joy Manning’s cookbook called Almost Meatless.
  • Virtual Vegan. I had a conversation with Dianna Fleischmann about being a Bivalve Vegan. She suggests that you can have the same impact environmentally and with less impact on animals by taking steps to becoming a vegetarian and eating occasional seafood. It’s an interesting discussion!

So, if you’re ready to learn how to start being vegetarian, let’s get started!

Tips on How to Become Vegetarian

If you’re really inspired and curious how to be a vegetarian, it helps to have some steps to get you through the early days. Here are some favorite tips for when you’re ready to go vegetarian.

  • Good Recipes. If you’re craving meat-based meals, there’s a vegetarian recipe for that! Find resources for good vegetarian recipes. See below for my Vegetarian Meal Plan.
  • Bring Food to Share. Whenever I’m invited to a party or dinner, I explain my diet and offer bring something to share. That way I get something to eat and I get to share delicious veg dishes!
  • Plan for Health. Being vegetarian isn’t an automatic pathway to healthiness. Oreos, potato chips, and french fries are vegetarian. Sure, you can have an Oreo or two, but plan to eat lots of fruits and veggies too.
  • Read Labels. As a vegetarian it’s important to read food labels. There are sneaky ingredients to avoid. One is gelatin, which is made from animal parts and is in Jello to Frosted Mini-Wheats to marshmallows. See the Vegetarian Resource Group’s list of ingredients to avoid.
  • Be Your Own PR. People will ask questions about a veg diet. For example, “Where do you get your protein?” In The China Study, Dr. Campbell discusses the link between animal protein and diseases like cancer and heart disease. However, if someone attacks you for being vegetarian, it’s more about them. Say, “Thanks for sharing” and move on.
  • Modern Vegetarian: Today’s vegetarians have lots of tasty meat substitute choices, from chicken wings to BBQ “ribs”. You can even enjoy the Impossible Burger at many restaurants nationwide!
  • Feel abundance: Starting a veg diet is not about deprivation! Michael Pollan suggests avoiding the center aisles of the grocery store because that’s where the processed food resides. As a vegetarian, you’ll prefer the produce section and take short dives into various parts of the store — for bread, canned beans, peanut butter, etc.

Resources on How to Start

Here’s some of my favorite resources on how to transition to vegetarian:

  • The Vegetarian Society How to Go Veg provides resources for helping people consider a vegetarian diet.
  • You can sign up for a free Veg Starter Kit here.
  • Namely Marly I offer tried and tested Veggie/Vegan Recipes in my Recipe Finder.

Vegetarian Meal Plan

Look, it’s not enough to have the best intentions, you need a plan for your new veg-focused diet! At the core of your interest in how to be vegetarian, is food. So, here’s a 5-day Starting Vegetarian meal plan to get you started!

Veggie Diet Day One:

Day one of your new veg diet will begin with blueberry overnight oats. For lunch you’ll make this tasty Vegan Tuna Salad recipe, followed by Vegan Beef Stroganoff for dinner!

The glass of overnight oats is topped with fresh blueberries and granola.
Blueberry Overnight Oats
Make this simple vegan blueberry overnight oats recipe topped with healthy granola and lots of fresh super food blueberries! Serve these nutritious refrigerator oats for breakfast or dessert!
Blueberry Overnight Oats Recipe
The glass of overnight oats is topped with fresh blueberries and granola.
Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich
Vegan Tuna Salad
This Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich makes a vegan twist on a popular, yet fishy kind of sandwich.
Vegan Tuna Salad Recipe
Vegetarian Tuna Salad Sandwich
Easy Vegan Beef Stroganoff is ready in thirty minutes and is perfect for Meatless Mondays or any day you desire to go meat/animal product free! #vegan
Vegan Beef Stroganoff
Easy Vegan Beef Stroganoff is ready in thirty minutes and is perfect for Meatless Mondays or any day you desire to go meat/animal product free!
Vegan Beef Stroganoff Recipe
Easy Vegan Beef Stroganoff is ready in thirty minutes and is perfect for Meatless Mondays or any day you desire to go meat/animal product free! #vegan

Veggie Diet Day Two:

Let’s look at day two of your new veggie diet. Breakfast will include this protein-rich 10-Minute Tofu Scramble is amazing over a slice of toast.

Lunch will consist of this Vegan Burrito recipe because it’s so easy, tasty and filling! For dinner, enjoy this easy Vegan Lasagna and enjoy the deliciousness all week! Finally, for dessert make this healthy Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding. It’s a great way to include something sweet in your diet, but it’s also whole foods focused and that makes it healthy.

A serving of tofu scramble sits on a piece of toast with sliced green onions. A skillet with more is in the background.
Tofu Scramble
This super easy, healthy Tofu Scramble can be ready with less than 10 ingredients and about 10 minutes.
Tofu Scramble Recipe
A piece of toast with a pat of melty vegan margarine sits behind a serving of tofu scramble.
Crispy Black Bean Burrito with Potatoes and Rice
Crispy Black Bean Burrito with Potatoes and Rice
This easy Crispy Black Bean Burrito recipe is made with brown rice, potatoes, corn, and salsa. Served in a crispy burrito shell and topped with guacamole!  It’s good, clean, fun-eating food that you’ll want to serve on repeat!
Crispy Black Bean Burrito with Potatoes and Rice Recipe
Crispy Black Bean Burrito with Potatoes and Rice
A slice of lasagna on a plate with steamed broccoli beside it.
Vegan Lasagna with Vegan Ricotta
We use no-bake lasagna noodles to make this recipe easy to make and with minimal ingredients. Imagine layers of pasta, red sauce, and a cheesy beet filling for a colorful, savory, healthy, and yet still easy vegetable lasagna.
Vegan Lasagna with Vegan Ricotta Recipe
A slice of vegan vegetable lasagna sits next to steamed broccoli. The rest of the lasagna is in a baking dish behind the plate.
Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
If you love healthy desserts, this Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding is for you! You’ll love the rich, chocolatey flavors! 
Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe
Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding

Veggie Diet Day Three:

Day three of your plant-based diet introduces leftovers. But first, it’s time to get your greens in. In fact, I recommend having a salad with all your meals, especially using healthy romaine lettuce.

So, today you’ll have a tasty Green Tea Banana Smoothie. I open my eating window with green smoothies every day! For lunch, you’ll have leftover Vegan Tuna Salad. For dinner, you will have leftover Vegan Burritos from the recipe above. It’s a nice simple day. If you want, make this simple Chocolate Pudding Cake for dessert!

A closeup image of chocolate cake in a bowl topped with vanilla ice cream.
Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake
Delicious and indulgent, this Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake delivers a cake you’ll want to make on repeat!
Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe
Three dessert bowls hold chocolate cake topped with ice cream. The main one has chocolate sauce over the top.

Veggie Diet Day Four:

Day four continues with some more leftovers, because it’s all so good and saves some time in the kitchen. But first, let’s have another smoothie for breakfast, this time it’s the Green Pina Colada Smoothie.

For lunch, enjoy leftover Vegan Lasagna. Delicious! For dinner, these easy Vegan Taquitos will impress your taste buds. If you need something sweet afterwards, try these Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Balls.

A crispy shell on the outside is combined with creamy ingredients on the inside and an avocado dipping sauce to finish it off.
Vegan Chicken Taquitos
Vegan “Chicken” Taquitos are super easy to make and will have your family begging for more!
Vegan Chicken Taquitos Recipe
Vegan "Chicken" Taquitos are super easy to make and will have your family begging for more!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites - for a quick, healthy, and delicious snack
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls
These Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls are packed with lots of good-for-you ingredients such as flax seed, oats, coconut, and dark chocolate chips.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls Recipe
A bowl holds several peanut butter energy bites with chocolate chips.

Veggie Diet Day Five:

Wow, it’s day five already! I think that means we should celebrate. So, let’s start this day with these amazing Pumpkin Donuts. You know, they’re baked, not fried so that makes them easier and even healthier!

For lunch, make a simple batch of this Eggless Vegan Egg Salad. It’s made from tofu and is ready in around 5 minutes! Make this delicious One Pot Chickpea Curry for dinner. Wow. It’s hard to believe this is plant-based, it’s so good!

Vegan Cinnamon Sugar Donuts
Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Donuts
Enjoy these fluffy Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar donuts that are baked, not fried, and coated with cinnamon and pumpkin spiced sugar. Sure to please!
Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Donuts Recipe
Vegan Cinnamon Sugar Donuts are a lighter version of the fried donuts we've all enjoyed in the past. These donuts are baked and lightly glazed with cinnamon and pumpkin spice. You'll enjoy sharing these with family and friends, and saving a few for yourself as well!
Eggless Egg Salad is a Vegan Egg Salad that can be served on a sandwich or on top of a salad too.
Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich
Dig into this Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich and enjoy a delicious eggless sandwich. This is a great, cholesterol-free, low carb alternative and absolutely delicious too!
Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich Recipe
A bun has vegan egg salad along with greens. A bowl of frozen peas is in the background.
A serving dish full of chickpea curry sits next to naan bread and limes.
One-Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry
One-Pot Wonder Dish – Chickpea Coconut Curry with basmati rice and a splash of lime. It’s so easy and so delicious!
One-Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry Recipe
A serving dish full of chickpea curry sits next to naan bread and limes.

So, I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have tips to share or feedback, I’d love to hear it!

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21 Responses to How to Become a Vegetarian Including What to Eat

  1. Yay Marly!! Great post!! You’ve shared some fantastic information and resources, what a great way to support and inspire others!! I agree, vegetarian food is so much more about what you eat rather than what you don’t eat!! Being veggie is the best!!

    • Thanks! I like that – it’s about what you eat rather than what you don’t eat. There’s definitely no need to feel deprived.

  2. well I’ve just found your site recently and want to thank you for this thorough list of resources. As I transition from meat to vegan it’s very helpful and supportive.
    growing up I couldn’t stand the taste of meat and rarely ate it. as an adult I found that it was easier to go along than go against; those were my choices. after listening to Prez Clinton talk recently about his diet I’ve made the choice to go vegan. i’ve had enough. I need to lose weight and I just generally feel not well. after 56 years, the time for change has come. thanks so much for the guides.

    • That’s great news! I was surprised to learn about Clinton’s new diet as well. Good for him! I tell you, I can’t imagine eating any other way now. I really love it!

      Let me know if you have any questions. I’m wishing you the very best! Marly

  3. Hey Marly! This is such an awesome post. Plus, you do such a good job of conveying how rational a vegetarian diet can be and is for so many. I often think that vegetarianism makes so much sense in just so many ways-kind of a have your cake and it eat it too type of diet (smile). I mean any diet that involves lots of veggies but also allows for cheese is just kind of awesome! I must admit I’ve almost kicked my cheese addiction though. I just buy it for Cauldron Boy at this point…
    p.s. I made vegan pizzas with Daiya the other day. It’s so expensive though!

    • Have I told you this already? I can’t remember, but I LOVE Daiya cheese! It is the best. We have a local pizza joint that serves vegan pizza so we go there. I’ve been wanting to do a post on Daiya cheese and talk about it. That said, my hubby still prefers the Follow Your Heart brand of vegan cheese. So when I make pizza I just make lots of it and we have some pizza with the Daiya and some with the Follow Your Heart. Did I tell you I’m a short order cook? Not really… but I do aim to please!

  4. I ate vegetarian for about five months and didn’t feel that deprived at all, in fact I ate way more variety of foods than I did as a meat eater. Overall it wasn’t a good fit for our lifestyle, but we do eat way less meat now, and all the animal flesh we do buy comes from well cared for animals. I fully support part time vegetarianism though.

  5. Excellent post Marly! You offered valid reasons why to become a vegetarian…many of which I use when I explain my choice to friends and family. I’ve found so much joy in NOT using meat to sustain me. And I hope that more people can start to make a switch to eating less animal products. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hey Marly, thanks for stopping by my blog… This is such an informative post and also very very interesting. I am a meat eater and always have been. I tried to be a vegetarian but unfortnately it didnt suit me at all. Although i totally get what you have written about and understand it. But either way your post was great!

  7. great post Marly – the points you’ve listed are on my own list as well. and even though we’re not ‘complete’ vegetarians (we still eat meat occasionally) we do eat a vegetarian diet more than 80% of the time – in fact, we might only eat one meal out of the entire week that is meat based. you are correct in that when making the change from a meat-based diet to a more vegetarian diet, it’s really important to plan – at least this has been true for us. but i also believe that planning helps to refocus our thoughts about food rather than mindlessly plowing through the food on our plates. we’re getting there!

    • Hi Debra – I agree there are plenty of options besides 100% vegetarian or vegan. I think it’s important to note that if everyone reduced the amount of meat it would be so much better for health, animals, and the environment. Oh, and let me tell you about mindlessly plowing through food. I have my days!

  8. Good ideas and tips all around.
    Here, I wouldn’t have a prob becoming Vegetarian, the meat and chicken just tastes like nothing (but so do most of the veggies).
    Back ‘home’ in Hungary, different story 🙂

  9. I absolutely love this post! So much great info – I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I recently went back to being a vegetarian (long story) and I don’t want to push my ideas/beliefs onto others…. but…. come on! I’ve never felt better (and I mean that in so many different ways) in my life and that’s thanks to being a vegetarian!

    I just love love love your posts, but this one is wonderful 🙂

  10. This is a great post, with so many resources. I especially liked the Weekday Vegetarians piece since it gives people the flexibility to eat some meat when they go out on the weekends. I took Dr. Colin Campbell’s China Study class on plant based nutrition, and made significant changes to my family’s diet. However, it is really hard to change over 100% to vegetarian for many. I also make sure that I bring a dish I can eat when I’m invited to someone’s house. People are always happy to have a healthy alternative and I know that I’ll have something to eat.

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