The easiest way to switch to a vegetarian diet is to do it gradually. There are two ways to go, depending on if you enjoy cooking and have time, or prefer your meals ready-made.
For those who enjoy cooking, the first step is to purchase a vegetarian cookbook. Many vegetarian cookbooks are available at your local bookstore, or online. Choose a book with dishes that appeal to you, whether Italian, Mexican, American, or a combination of different types of food.
Start by paging through the book to pick four recipes that you’d like to try first. Pledge to cook one vegetarian dinner per week, and keep track of the meals you like. You can do this by copying the recipe to a 3x5 (76x127mm) index card to place in a special vegetarian diet recipe box, or you can tag the pages with a colored sticky tab, available from any office supply store.
At the end of the month, find four more recipes and, again, try one new vegetarian dinner per week. Pick one additional day out of the week to make a dish you have already tried and liked from the previous month. Choose from your vegetarian diet recipe box, or from the colored tabs.
Don’t be afraid to alter recipes as you see fit. Tastes are individual and often a recipe will be greatly improved by simply leaving out a strong ingredient or adding another. You can also experiment with meals you commonly make by substituting a meatless product. For example, if your family likes tacos made with crumbled hamburger, you can substitute crumbled meatless burger instead.
The third month, follow the same routine, trying four new recipes, one each week. Pick two additional days to make recipes you have already tried and liked. In the third month of switching to a vegetarian diet you will be eating three vegetarian meals per week.
As you shop for groceries, explore the vegetarian section for meatless cold cuts, hot dogs, and other vegetarian foods. The delicatessen section will have these items. For vegetarian breakfast sausages, crumbled meatless burger and other items, look in the frozen foods section. Begin expanding your vegetarian diet to include occasional lunches and breakfasts.
In seven months you will be eating a vegetarian diet for dinner every night, and should be well established in vegetarian foods for your other meals as well. If it takes longer, that’s okay too. Don’t eat food that is unappealing — there are plenty of tasty vegetarian meals out there, so give yourself time to discover them.
For those with no time to cook, you’re in luck. It is very easy to eat a vegetarian diet by buying healthy meals from the frozen foods section. Meatless burgers of all sorts, meatless chicken Parmesan, meatless buffalo wings, and a wide assortment of other vegetarian meals are available.
Follow the same basic routine by buying four new vegetarian meals to try. Try one each week, until you build up a selection of meals you like. Each month determine to increase the weekly vegetarian meal by adding an additional day. Incorporate meatless deli foods into your vegetarian diet for lunches. Try to cook fresh vegetables occasionally, whole grain rice, and eat plenty of fruit.
It was once thought that vegetarians could not get enough protein in a vegetarian diet. This myth has been proven false. Most vegetarian diets are high in soy which is rich in protein. Meatless luncheon meats, meatless burgers and virtually all meat substitutes are made from soy. Other foods such as legumes (beans), whole grain rice, vegetables and fruits all combine to provide protein. If you have access to these meatless products and foods, there should be no problem getting sufficient protein in your new vegetarian diet.
While many doctors claim a well balanced diet is easily achieved by simply eating a wide variety of foods, some people feel more comfortable supplementing a vegetarian diet with a good multiple vitamin. Note too that as you drop meat from the diet, your taste buds will likely change, allowing you to appreciate a vegetarian diet even more. For this reason you can revisit vegetarian foods that you might reject at the start of your quest, as they may taste different in time. By switching over to a vegetarian diet gradually you should find it not only easy but enjoyable.