Being a vegetarian is more than just one day deciding not to eat meat anymore. There are considerations to be made and a process to follow. I was recently asked the 'how-to' question and here's how I responded.
The vegetarian lifestyle takes on many facets. For some it may mean that they eat no animal or animal derived products [vegan] products, for others it may mean consuming dairy, fish, eggs, but no red meat [lacto-ovo-pesca-vegetarian], while for others, they fall somewhere in between or they may entertain both schools of thought, eating everything at times and at times only strict vegan cuisine [flexitarians], depending on the circumstances.
When you want to be strict about it, it doesn't have to be rocket science to be successful. You just need to follow a few simple steps to make sure you have all of your bases covered, so as not to end up at a nutritional deficit.
Here's what you want to ask yourself and here's what you want to look at:
"What type of vegetarian am I, and what things can I eat for a healthy lifestyle?"
1. First, prepare yourself for a successful journey into vegetarianism. Many people just stop eating meats without knowing what to replace them with, let alone how to prepare the things in ways that actually taste good to them. Educate yourself from now on what your requirements are going to be in your soon-to-be vegetarian lifestyle.
[Hint: It's going to be the same requirements you have now. You're just filling them without eating meat.]
2. Make sure that you get all of your nutrient requirements: fats; proteins; carbohydrates; fiber; enzymes; vitamins; minerals; beneficial bacteria & soil based organisms [to help your body breakdown and use the nutrients you take in].
3. Get good quality, fresh, certified organic produce and nutrients. There are many good supplement companies on the market for you to explore. I like the Udo's, Nature's Way and Garden of Life brands along with others. You'll have to do your research on what's going to work best for you and consult a qualified health care provider and/or nutritionist.
4. Start out with the basics and build from there. Tofu is great to an extent, so are mushrooms, beans, etc. Keep it all in balance, so you don't overdo any one thing. Get a hold of some great recipes and techniques to create great meals.
5. When possible, take some classes on healthy cooking. Google, YouTube, other places on the Internet, the library and bookstores are also great for this.Find out what foods you like and start working with them first, then move to the foods you don't particularly care for, but are healthy for you, and discover ways to prepare them that you do like.
[It's a lot of fun and by the time you're finished you'll have a whole bunch of ways to create many vegetarian meals. You may even start creating your own original recipes.]
6. Make sure you get in a good source of water. If you're a soft drink drinker, you might want to make a shift in that and have green and herbal teas instead. They're great for your health and teeth as well. [The water we tend to drink is the Fiji brand. Trader Joe's carries them at the best price we've seen thus far.]
7. Elimination is key. Make sure that what goes in comes back out. If you're eating 3 meals per day and you're not eliminating, or going to the bathroom, 3 times per day, [I don't care what anyone says] something's off and you're probably in need of some greens, chlorophyll, probiotics, digestive enzymes or some other nutrients.
[You should be having the same amount of bowel movements per day as the amount of meals that you consume.]
These are a few things you'll want to do to prepare yourself for a healthy vegetarian diet.
Try this on for size...
Use a mind mapping software to do your preliminary planning. Take your time and brainstorm the whole thing. You'll be amazed at what you come up with and how easy it is to create your whole big vegetarian picture.
For more information or to have one of your questions answered, drop me a line, stop by my forum, join my Vegetarian Resource Newsletter and definitely stay tuned in as I bring you more articles to help you effortlessly achieve your best, health, well being and wholeness throughout the life of your diet.
As always it's been great sharing with you. Until next time...