How to Switch to a Vegetarian Diet

For some time, I had debated whether or not I wanted to switch to a vegetarian diet or not. I was raised to eat meat and I had eaten it all my adult life but some changes were on the rise. I had been having some health problems, albeit minor, but my doctor advised less meat and more fiber in the diet. I asked if vegetarian would be an option for me. After looking over my chart, he said it would be fine for now.

Protein

By far, the most interesting and challenging transition for me was getting off the meat. When I read about a vegetarian diet, I found that I need to combine proteins from different sources in order to get all nine essential amino acids that make up protein. As it turns out, we need to eat complete protein in order to have all the necessary building blocks for cells in the body.

Plant proteins are not always complete like animal proteins are, so if you are doing just that, you have to be careful to get all the amino acids. Basically, the idea is to mix grains and legumes and then you are set. The advantage of a vegetarian diet over a vegan diet is that you can use eggs, milk, and cheese for protein in addition to legumes, grains, and mushrooms.

You actually have more protein choices with a vegetarian diet!

Meat Substitutes

Knowing about the food combining and about the complete protein in eggs and milk was good, but I still had a craving for meat and it was not going away. This is when I found out about the vegetarian meat substitutes.

I found some things, both soy and non-soy, that you would swear are meat but they are not. These were the saving grace for me. I also found that it is too easy to get carried away with these things. The idea is to become vegetarian, not to just eat a whole lot of meat substitutes.

Getting Full

One of the things I discovered is that, with a vegetarian diet, I was not opting for heavy foods so much. Since most of what I would normally eat out is meat-based, I ended up making my own meals.

It was frustrating because I felt hungry much of the time and did not know what to do about it. Meat is slower to digest, so you feel more “full” when you eat it. The secret to staying satisfied is to eat healthily but more frequently with smaller meals.

Staying the Course

Unless you have some other strong reason for being vegetarian, don’t worry about it too much. For spiritual purposes, follow what your teacher says. When it comes to health, you will find that your needs change. Maybe you can stay vegetarian for the rest of your life and maybe only some of it. That is fine. The point is to eat a healthier diet to be more vital in life.