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5 Laid-back Tips for Becoming a Vegetarian

Since coming to college, I’ve been thinking a lot about going vegetarian for many reasons: helping animals, protecting the environment and living healthier. But, I’m somewhat intimidated by the idea because I’ve been eating meat for the past 19 years — and I definitely enjoy it. After doing some research and consulting with friends, I decided to start my journey as a semi-vegetarian. I tried it out for one week and, to be honest, I feel comfortable doing it this way. I didn’t have much faith in going full vegetarian, so this method actually works pretty well for me. If you’re in the same situation as me, I’ve got you covered! Here are some tips that I would love to offer you:

 

1. Start with cutting off red meat slowly.

I know, I know…  a lot of people love beef, pork and lamb. But, these red meats often contain higher saturated fat and more calories than white meat; it raises your blood cholesterol, which may cause heart disease. You can start with replacing red meat with white meat, such as chicken and seafood, in your diet. The latter usually have less saturated fat. Unsaturated fats in fish like salmon also have health benefits; it can help reduce the possibility of getting a heart disease.

 

2. Don’t rush!

Sure, you may be trying to eat less meat; but it’s important for beginners to take it slow. The idea of becoming vegetarian probably sounds scary for meat lovers, but it would be easier if you begin by giving yourself short-term goals that allow yourself to cheat sometimes. I mean, come on, that’s the definition of being a semi-vegetarian; you’re someone whose diet is primarily vegetarian but also includes some meat, such as the occasional poultry or seafood. I don’t recommend starting off with a dramatic dietary change.You may be only taking baby steps, but that’s still something worth celebrating!

 

3. Try out meat replacements in your diet.

There are certain foods that don’t 100 percent taste like meat but have similar textures; they usually are healthier than meat. Some examples are lentils, tofu and black beans. Lentils provide you with rich protein and fiber. Tofu is made by soybeans and can add a great amount of protein to your meal. Black beans are a rich source of antioxidants and protein; they often appear in burritos or chili. If you’re a Mexican food lover, try using black beans as a meat replacement.

 

4. Cravings are real. Don’t ignore them.

It’s possible that you don’t feel satisfied after having a meal that’s light on meat. Ask yourself if you’re truly hungry and be attentive to what you’re craving. If you’re frequently craving something, that could be a signal that your body is lacking the nutrition you need; you should probably add that to your next meal. It’s important to not let yourself be hungry; being healthy is the number one priority in this semi-vegetarian guide! Remember not to skip meals and have some healthy snacks during the day.

 

5. It’s okay to treat yourself sometimes.

As much as we like to talk about how red meats have high saturated fats, they’re sometimes a good source of vitamins. Sometimes, after several vegetarian meals, you may think, “I’ve been doing great, and today I just want to have meat in my meal. I’m going reward myself with some meat today.” This is totally okay! To all the meat lovers out there, you can sometimes treat yourself with steak or a burger. Becoming a semi-vegetarian allows you to occasionally enjoy some meat while sticking to primarily vegetarian dietary choices.

 

Maybe you’ve decided to try out being a semi-vegetarian; maybe you’re already one. In any case, keep in mind what’s important: feeling happy, comfortable and healthy being a semi-vegetarian!

Communication Arts student who specializes in social media marketing. Extensive background in Digital Studies and French.
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