Attention meat eaters! Don’t fear the veggies!
Contrary to the old cliche, going vegetarian (or even eating vegetarian for part of your day, a la Mark Bittman) doesn’t mean a loss of flavor or adventure. (Just check out Milo’s on Conrad St. in East Falls if you don’t believe me.)
Going meatless doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing prospect — eating habits can evolve over time. One of the best things about exploring a healthier lifestyle is discovering new favorite things to eat. Over the last year, I’ve avoided meat in favor of a vegetarian diet and I’m happy to share some tips about making the change.
- Start Slow. Completely cutting all meat from your diet can shock your body, and it will not quite know what to do. Often times, people who cut out all meat cold turkey (I had to do it) will get sick. Your body is not used to not having all the vitamins and minerals that come from meat so it will be a shock to your body. I suggest cutting out one meat at a time and take it in stages. This will allow your body to get used to not having meat anymore
- Watch What You Eat. This sounds like a lame diet technique, but it actually crucial for vegetarians and vegans to be aware of the nutrients they are getting and need to get. When I went vegetarian, I instantly went for a lot of pasta and pizza since they are technically vegetarian. This was not a great idea because I was quite sick for the first few weeks until I realized that I simply was not getting all the nutrients I needed. Taking a B12 vitamin supplement is something that many vegetarians and vegans need to do since B12 is mainly found in meat.
- Beans! Of course this sounds a bit silly, but beans are packed full of protein and are very heart healthy. There are so many varieties of beans and you can really do so much with them. They make a great substitute for meat and are delicious (for the most part). Plus, hummus is probably the best snack out there and way more filling than a bag of chips.
- Drink More Water. Now, I know this isn’t something you would normally find on a vegetarian guide, but most people really do not drink enough water. Making sure you drink enough water throughout the day can actually make you feel fuller and healthier, and I am pretty sure I didn’t just make that up.
- Eat the Rainbow (not Skittles). Try to have a balanced diet with various colors on your plate. There are different nutrients in various colored fruits and vegetables and it is important to broaden your scope and eat more than just one thing. I personally eat two or three fruits a day and a few servings of vegetables daily and I really do feel healthier. Eating a plant based diet has been proven many times to be a healthier option than a traditional meat based diet.
- Have Fun! There are so many great new veggie options out there and many of them taste just like, if not better than, real meat. There is one product I get from the grocery store a lot called Quorn, and their “chicken” nuggets taste better than real chicken nuggets, I swear. Falafel is also another amazing meat alternative, so go out and start trying some vegetarian foods, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Now get out there and get some greens! You can thank me later.