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Vegetarianism 101: 9 tips for ditching meat

As a result of both the rise in animal rights movements and healthy eating trends, vegetarianism has become more and more popular in recent years. While the decision to become a vegetarian is entirely personal and it's certainly not for everyone, cutting meat from your diet can have a ton of benefits. If you’re thinking of becoming a vegetarian, there are some things you need to know before you get started. Whether you’ve decided not to support the meat industry anymore or you simply want a healthier diet for yourself, here are sure-fire ways to make your transition from omnivore to herbivore as smooth as possible.

1. Have good reasons. Understanding why you want to be a vegetarian will help you stick to it in the long run. Above all, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not just because all of your friends are doing it.

2. Talk to your doctor. Make sure this is an option that’s healthy and safe for you. Your doctor can help you form a plan and figure out what kind of foods will give you a balanced and healthy diet.

3. Inform your parents. Talk to them about some dinner alternatives and politely ask them to keep more fruits and veggies in the fridge. If you aren’t the one doing the grocery shopping and making dinner every night, keeping your parents in the loop is going to be a key factor.

4. Cut back instead of cutting it out. Quitting cold turkey is hard for most people, and the thought of never eating meat again can easily deter you from ever wanting to be a vegetarian. Start with “meatless Mondays” and work your way up to a few days a week, or try cutting out only red meat for a few weeks until you’re ready to fully commit.

5. Try out vegetarian recipes. Cutting meat from your diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food anymore. Try one or two per week and just keep adding them to your arsenal. This way, you’re replacing old habits with new ones instead of trying to deprive yourself from meat entirely. There are some great ones here to get you started.

6. Try substitutes. If you want to give up meat but you can’t quite kick your bacon addiction, check out the alternatives. Vegan bacon is actually a thing! Who would’ve thought? Odds are, most of your favorite meals can still be made with meat substitutes like tempeh, seitan or tofu. And of course, make sure you’re still getting enough protein and vitamins by eating more foods like vegetables, beans and nuts.

7. Plan ahead. Going out to restaurants and having dinner at a friend’s house will be trickier. To avoid any potential problems, make sure your host is aware of your dietary restrictions and always check out the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time to make sure there’s something there you can eat. If not, just eat before you go or bring your own food. It’s not worth the temptation.

8. Do what’s right for you. Some people feel like cutting dairy and eggs is an important part of being a vegetarian, and some people still eat fish and seafood. There are no strict rules when it comes to what defines a vegetarian, so do whatever makes the most sense for you and your health.

9. Hang in there. The adjustment period is really the worst part. Once meat is no longer a part of your everyday life, you’ll hardly notice its absence. Some people even start craving vegetables instead!

And of course, if you try it and decide being a vegetarian isn’t working for you, you can always go back to eating meat. You’re not signing a contract, and you need to do what’s best for you.

Have you or a friend ever tried going vegetarian? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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by Alexis Ancel | 7/20/2016
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