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How To Determine If Becoming A Vegetarian Is The Right Choice

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Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

It seems that more and more people are becoming vegetarians or vegans these days, including many famous people such as Mike Tyson, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Brand and Bill Clinton. Studies have shown that vegetarian diets are healthier than more meat-based, omnivore diets because they are low in cholesterol and saturated fat and many factory animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics, in addition to being fed a cheap, unhealthy diet. So if you have contemplated becoming a vegetarian because of health reasons or just want to live a more animal-friendly lifestyle, but are not sure if the diet is right for you, here are some things to consider.

Meal Planning

Becoming a vegetarian can be fun and give you more interesting meal ideas with food you never knew existed. As vegetarianism becomes more popular, the unique ingredients that used to be difficult to find in the grocery store are now available at almost all major food stores. However, when looking into new recipes, be sure to incorporate meals in your diet that contain iron, calcium, protein, vitamins D and B12 and zinc. You may want to take a multi-vitamin while beginning your transition to ensure you get all of your essential vitamins. As you start researching and discovering different meals, you will find that there are plenty of non-meat foods that contain all of these nutrients and they are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can also make an appointment with a dietitian who can help you along the way, especially if you have allergies that keep you from consuming foods that would otherwise be good substitutes for meat.

How Motivated Are You?

People often say they cannot live without hamburgers and chicken. These foods are great, but there are bean, veggie, soy and tofu burgers that are pretty tasty as well, and healthier. As for chicken, MorningStar Farms and Boca make awesome chik’n nuggets and patties and you can also find vegetarian substitutes for meatballs, deli meats, sausage, hot dogs, chicken wings and more so you don’t feel like you are missing out on great food. If you are the only person in your family or group of friends that is deciding on going vegetarian, then you may have problems when going to events. Often people forget about that one person with a special diet, so just be sure to bring a dish to social gatherings so there is at least one thing you can eat. This will eliminate temptation to giving in to the meat dishes as well.

Time And Money

Sometimes the unique ingredients found in vegetarian recipes can be pricey or the meals take a long time to make because they include multiple vegetables that need to be cut up. However, vegetables are not as pricey as fresh, quality meat or seafood. There are also many kitchen products that help facilitate the process of dicing and chopping multiple vegetables.

Eating Out

When dining out, there are usually vegetarian options. But if you are trying to be strict, ask the server how the food is prepped and if it is made with any animal products. You will find that restaurants often cook food in animal fat. Therefore, you may need to do some research before picking a restaurant.

Are You A Picky Eater?

If you are going to stop eating meat, then you may need to try foods that you have never heard of or be open minded to trying the meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers. You might actually discover a new food you really like. Expanding your options will ensure that you do not get bored with eating the same foods over and over again.

There are many benefits to eating a vegetarian diet not only health-wise, but better for the planet as well. It is not that difficult to find foods that are easy to make and provide essential nutrients. If you feel like it will be a difficult transition, wean yourself into it. You do not have to go “cold turkey” into becoming a vegetarian. Any minor changes you make to your diet can reap major benefits to your health and the environment.

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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.

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