- Take your time
Of course, there are those who are easy to decide on the transition to an unfamiliar diet, but not everyone can do it. If you don’t think about it, it can only harm and delay the day when you will be able to finally give up meat.
For the beginning it is better to set yourself quite achievable tasks, for example, not to eat meat and fish for a day or a week, and then completely switch to vegetarianism. It is equally important to think about what you can do and ask yourself: do I really want to become a vegetarian? Sometimes such a desire passes quickly, that’s why it takes time to mature the final decision.
- Make your plan for transitioning to a new diet
Giving up meat, like any other food restriction, requires careful consideration. First of all, you need to know what useful substances contained in meat, you will lose – and look for their replacement. The first time it is important even to calculate the necessary rate of consumption of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, and based on this make a meal plan for the day, and later just focus on it. Vegetarianism is not a diet, but a worldview, so you need to approach this decision seriously, and not just exclude meat and fish from your diet, but try new products.
– There are some essential amino acids that come into the body only with meat or fish foods, and it can be difficult to replace them. Vegans who do not eat any animal protein even have to get the missing amino acids and vitamins in the form of supplements or medications. Vitamin B12, for example, is only found in meat, and a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to the development of multiple sclerosis, a very serious systemic disease of connective tissue. Small amounts of this vitamin are found in seaweed, but in order to meet the daily requirement, they need to eat a huge amount.
Young women often have a latent or hidden deficiency of iron (this can only be determined by biochemical blood tests), and therefore vegetarianism is contraindicated for them. It is possible to expand the diet at the expense of proteins of plant origin, but they do not completely replace the amino acids that are contained in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
Many vegetarians know about it – they retreat from vegetarianism during pregnancy and lactation, and do not involve in such restrictions of children under five or six years. If a person really can’t get over his principles, you can consume milk, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, which simplifies the diet and makes up for the lack of vitamins and many other substances.
- Start with foods you already love
It may seem like you have to have some special culinary skills to make a vegetarian meal, but it really just requires the work of your imagination. Think about your favorite foods and see how you can make them even more special. For example, replace meat with cheese or add legumes or soybeans instead of your usual source of protein. You will be surprised how easy it is to do without meat, if you don’t just get rid of all dishes with it, but come up with an equal and just as tasty substitute.
- Invent new things
Once you’ve learned how to adapt old dishes, you can begin to explore new ones. Look for the simplest recipes based on familiar foods or try something not yet known. For example, chickpeas, couscous, and quinoa, beloved by many vegetarians, can be used to make new dishes quickly and easily.
To surprise your guests or just not to let even these products bore you, try to look for something unusual in the recipes of different countries. In the cuisine of very many of them (mostly Asian) you can find vegetarian dishes that are not so difficult to prepare.
- Change familiar foods
Many people think that the only substitute for meat for a vegetarian is soy meat, which looks and tastes similar. This may be a good option for adapting to a new diet, but it’s easier to invent your own way to avoid animal protein. Even dishes that are made with meat in the original recipe, like bolognese or stuffed peppers, can be altered in their own way to add vegetables or mushrooms instead of meat and minced meat.
- Come up with substitutions for meat dishes
You may just not realize how easy it is to give up meat, even if you often eat out. Almost every restaurant offers vegetarian dishes – and not just two or three, but often an entire section on the menu! If you try to cook yourself, different types of cheese can serve as a substitute for meat to begin with, and later try to discover dishes with tofu, chickpeas, and nuts.
- Use soybeans
Of all the typical vegetarian foods, many people prefer soy – in prepared meals, tofu, for example, becomes an excellent substitute for meat, especially in terms of protein content. For starters, it is better to use a marinade or sauce when cooking, so that soy products take on a richer and more familiar flavor.
- Find recipes for vegetarian meals
At first, when giving up meat still seems something unfamiliar and frightening, you can calm down and diversify your diet with new recipes. If you suddenly get bored with meat dishes, you can always buy soy meat or wheat sausage and make something special. You can even buy vegetarian pâté and seaweed caviar in specialty stores, and you can make chickpea cutlets at home.
- Feed your loved ones with your own food
To make it easier to learn a new menu, try to cook not only for yourself, but also to treat friends and relatives. Sometimes it’s important to show that food can be even tastier and more nourishing without meat – for this you can prepare familiar dishes for everyone, but with vegetarian recipes. This will not alienate you from your loved ones because of your diet and will only help to dispel the myth that vegetarians eat only vegetable salads.
- Find your own company
Even if no one in the family is ready to switch to non-meat food, don’t despair – find interesting vegetarian blogs, look for vegetarians among friends and invite them to cook together using the recipes you find. And don’t forget to treat everyone to your new favorite dishes. Giving up meat can often be difficult because of feelings of isolation, so support is sure to be needed when going vegetarian, as in any other endeavor.
– Vegetarianism also has positive effects. They have fewer problems with their gallbladder, liver, and cholesterol levels, which means they have a low risk of developing atherosclerosis. One of my patients, 75 years old, had a severely deformed gallbladder, and he didn’t find out about it until his eighth decade. It turned out that he was a vegetarian, ate almost no meat, so even having an abnormal gallbladder he didn’t feel it and didn’t go to the doctors about it.
On a vegetarian diet a person does not get fat, so people prone to obesity, vegetarianism is useful, but only if the diet is not strict and closest to a healthy diet.
It is necessary to consider the climate and the genetic code of the person. For example, people of blood group I – meat-eaters. If the meat-eaters body is fixated on the metabolism of animal proteins and fats, such a person strict vegetarianism will be harmful. When it’s cold, vegetarians, as a rule, it is not easy, because vegetable food does not give many calories, quickly again comes the feeling of hunger. And when it’s hot – we ourselves know that we don’t want meat and fish so much, because there is no great need for calories and quite enough plant foods.