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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Tips on Becoming a Vegetarian

If you would like to become a vegetarian, or even if you don't want to become a vegetarian but would like to reduce your meat intake, here are some suggestions:

1. Find good recipes. You don't need to go out and buy a bunch of cookbooks. There are so many great websites with a plethora of delicious and easy vegetarian recipes. My favorites are here, here and here. Here are some of my favorite recipes: Curried Corn and Coconut Soup, Bright Green SoupQuinoa Tabbouleh and Coconut Chocolate Crunch Mix.

2. Try one recipe a week. If you like it, add it to your collection of staple recipes that you eat on a regular basis. You don't need to turn into a vegetarian overnight, so just gradually start adding some vegetable-based meals to your week.

3. Substitutions. Try your regular recipes that you love but with a meatless substitute. So, if you love spaghetti with meat sauce, try using a ground beef alternative from Boca or Morningstar and cook it just the way you would normally. There are alternatives for just about any kind of meat, and some of them are quite good. You can go on eating what you normally eat, but meatless.

4. Start with red meat. Usually, gradually transitioning into vegetarianism is the best approach as opposed to doing it all at once. Red meat is on the more expensive side and is usually also the unhealthiest, so try cutting it out first.

5. Junk food. You can be a vegetarian and be very unhealthy if you eat junk food. Being a vegetarian is not a license to eat junk food (although you can probably indulge yourself a little more occasionally now that you're not eating meat). Try to stick with fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, soy protein, low-fat dairy and other nutritious foods for the most part.

6. Ethnic food. One of the greatest things about becoming a vegetarian is that often it spurs people to try new and interesting ethnic foods (or reminds them of foods they love but don't eat often). Great vegetarian dishes can be found in all types of cuisines: Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Mexican, South American, and more.

7. Tell friends and family. These are the people you'll be eating out with, whose homes you'll be having dinner at, etc. So, it's important that they know about your new lifestyle and that they be supportive. There's no need to try and convert them to being vegetarians, just explain your choices and leave it at that. You might want to start bringing a vegetarian dish when going to other people's houses for dinner, especially for occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

8. Vegetarian Restaurants. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are tons of vegetarian restaurants as well as regular restaurants with vegetarian menus. Here are some of my favorite spots: The Plant Cafe Organic, Greens, The Loving Hut, Cafe Gratitude, and Gracias Madre. This website is a great tool for finding vegetarian restaurants in your area.

9. Have fun! Notice how good you feel. Many people experience a significant increase in energy, feel lighter, and healthier.

Good luck! :)

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