How to Go Vegetarian or Vegan

10 Tips to Make the Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Young woman holding pan with vegan pasta dish
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You’ve decided to go vegetarian or become vegan, but now what? If you're trying to figure out what your next step should be, these quick tips will help you make the transition to be vegetarian. Use these 10 tactics to start your new vegan or vegetarian diet and lifestyle.

Transform Favorite Dishes

Many dishes you already enjoy are adaptable to remove meat and animal products. For example, omit meatballs from your favorite spaghetti recipe, or replace with a vegetarian meat substitute, such as GimmeLean. Chances are, much of what you already eat could easily be made vegetarian.

Explore New Plant-Based Foods

If you want to become a vegetarian, you'll want to explore new foods. Although most large grocery stores stock soy milk and veggie burgers, try browsing in your local health food stores to see what new foods you can find. There's always something new to try, and the staff can help you find what you're looking for or give advice on which products are best. Make it fun and exciting to become vegetarian.

Try It Twice

If you hated a particular food the first time, such as veggie burgers, try it again later, using a different product brand or prepared differently or with different seasonings and spices. Not all products are the same, and you may prefer one product or style of preparation. For example, if you microwaved your veggie burger the first time, try grilling it next time.

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Learn, Read, and Talk

Learn and read as much as possible about vegetarian health and foods. Knowledge is power. If you know any other vegetarians or vegans, ask them for their tips or advice. Everyone will have something different to share about their experience becoming vegetarian, but most people are more than willing to provide a bit of advice and will likely be flattered that you asked for help to become a vegetarian.

Get New Cookbooks and Easy Recipes

Browse your local bookstore for a great vegetarian cookbook or find a vegan/vegetarian recipe app or site. Look for one that not only appeals to you but has a variety of recipes that are simple enough for everyday use.

Try New Restaurants

Check your area for plant-based restaurants. You will not only be able to dine without scouring the menu for the few acceptable options, you'll be introduced to new dishes and meal components. For traditional restaurants that often have vegan or vegetarian dishes, seek out Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Thai restaurants. Taste the many dishes and foods they have to offer.

Don't Cook Separate Meals for the Family

If you’re the only one in your family transitioning to a vegetarian diet, you don’t have to cook two separate meals. Simply cook the meat for dishes like stir-fries and pasta dishes in a separate pan and add to a separated portion just before serving.

Make Healthy Choices

Be sure to replace meat with healthy foods and eat a balanced diet. If you are eating nothing but french fries and sugary vegan desserts, your health will suffer, and you will want to resort to your former eating habits. Eat a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and proteins, such as tofu or veggie burgers, to stay full and healthy.

Give Yourself a Break

Don’t throw in the towel if you can’t resist that burger. Just take a breath and resolve to do better at the next meal. Another idea is to allow yourself one day a week to eat meat. If you're finding it difficult to stick to a vegetarian diet, you’re much more likely to pass something up if you know you can indulge on Saturday or Sunday. Giving yourself a break in the short term rather than giving up will help you become vegetarian in the long run.

Be Patient

You may find it easy to go vegan overnight, while others struggle just omitting red meat when becoming vegetarian. Everyone really is different, but rest assured that with time, your cravings will subside. Remembering your goals and reasons for becoming vegetarian or vegan will help you when you are tempted to give in.