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 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 on 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 Asia. They keep cats and dogs in cages and people go to the market and pick the one they want to take home and cook for dinner. Eating the flesh of another 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 becoming vegetarian and eating occasional seafood. It’s an interesting discussion!
Tips on How to Become a Vegetarian
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 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 Namely Food category.
Vegetarian Meal Plan
Look, it’s not enough to have the best intentions, you need a plan for your new veg-focused diet! Here’s a 5-day Vegetarian meal plan to get you started!
Veggie Diet Day One:
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.
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!
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.
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!
So, I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have tips to share or feedback, I’d love to hear it!