Browsing the diet and cooking sections of any bookstore, it’s easy to the conclusion that there are more diets and food lifestyles around today than have existed at any point in history. The reasons for choosing any of these lifestyles is varied, but one of the most well-known and least-understood dietary followings is vegetarianism.
Making the shift to a vegetarian diet can be easier than you think!
People often connect vegetarianism and a counter-cultural neo-hippie movement, assuming that every vegetarian is named Moonchild or spends most of their day stoned out of their mind. In fact, many people today are choosing vegetarianism as a healthy alternative to the standard American diet. Others choose to forego meat out of a desire to save animals from cruel and painful deaths at the end of their too-short lives. If you’re considering making the switch, there are various ways you can go about it.
The Stepping Stone Option
A planned change from an omnivore’s diet to a vegetarian one is best accomplished gradually, as opposed to abruptly or cold turkey, so to speak. A transitional change is often recommended in order to lessen the “shock” of a significant life change, particularly one as personal and self-defining as an individual’s diet.
A stepping-stone approach also gives one the time to adjust to the new phase and make any necessary adjustments before proceeding on to the next step. Finally, the step-by-step method of planned change gives one an alternative to completely abandoning the project should an impasse be reached. T
he would-be vegetarian can extend the length of their present stage or “step back” to the previous one until a decision is made to proceed again. Researchers indicate that this type of gradual change proves to be successful more often than an overnight approach.
A Lifestyle Change, Not a “Diet”
Adopting a vegetarian diet is more of a lifestyle transformation than it is a temporary change in the foods you’re allowed to ingest. Making and planning such a deliberate and considered change is usually more successful than a snap decision and gives you the time to research information such as dietary needs, menus, recipes and vegetarian substitutions to favorite recipes.
Your necessary daily protein intake should also be calculated during this time and will be dependent upon age, sex, size and amount of physical activity. In the event that a supplemental form of protein might be necessary to meet your needs, you can just order a vegan protein powder online and shipped by a worldwide express service to your home in time to begin your planned transition.
Eliminating One Meat At a Time
The transitional approach suggests that one type of meat protein be eliminated at a time and for most individuals, this consists of forgoing red meat while still eating white meat and fish, for example. If you have adequately planned during the preparation period, you already have meat substitutes available and can continue to enjoy meals based upon recipes formerly made with red meat.
After a pre-allotted period of time based upon your preferences and research recommendations, eliminate another type of meat from your diet such as pork and pork products. Successfully completing this level then leads one to the elimination of chicken and poultry. Many near-vegetarians choose this level of meatless eating and continue to consume fish and shellfish as a standard and permanent part of their diets, becoming pescetarian. Others choose to eliminate fish and shellfish as well, thereby eliminating all sources of animal proteins.
Vegan vs. Vegetarian
A vegan diet goes beyond eliminating all sources of animal proteins and includes avoiding any foods produced in any way from animals. Thus, milk, butter, eggs and cheeses are also eschewed, as are any foods prepared with items such as beef broth, gelatin or powdered eggs. In today’s modern supermarket, maintaining a vegan diet is a fairly simple matter as long as the individual is able to afford the somewhat more-expensive vegan substitutions for these items.
Food and the sharing of food has always been an important means of socialization in addition to simply ingesting necessary nutrients. If this change is undertaken willingly and positively, there is a much better chance that it will be permanent and successful. Many ethnic foods are vegetarian and adopting this diet might serve as an excuse to visit ethnic restaurants and sample unknown cuisines. All in all, have fun with the experience and a new means of adaptation.