Somehow in a house full of carnivorous people, who looked questioningly at vegetables as just garnish for their steak dinners, I have found myself living as a vegetarian for about six years. Often times I question how I even became a vegetarian while living on the outskirts of town next to cattle farms raised for meat and the dairy cows milked for freshly churned ice cream, but I managed to do so and I continue living a vegetarian to this day. The thing is that I didn’t do entirely on my own. Months of research in books about vegetarianism, articles online, documentaries about where our food comes from and conversations from other vegetarians helped me safely transition into a life without meat.
A couple of the books that I ended up grabbing along the way were How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman, Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook, by Del Sroufe, author Julieanna Hever MS RD CPT, contributors Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Darshana Thacker, and Judy Micklewright, and Vegetarian Recipes for Meat Eaters, by Ericka Smits. I used websites such as Happy Cow.net and Yelp to find veg friendly eateries in my area, subscribe to vegetarian magazines such as VegNews and Vegetarian Times for tips and extra recipes, and I did sign up for social different social media groups on Facebook and new sites, such as Volentia, to meet and converse with vegetarians all over the world.
Planning ahead and gaining enough information before changing my lifestyle helped me immensely when I made the gradual switch to become vegetarian. I truly do believe it made the process easier and it helped prepare me for some of the obstacles that I faced as a new vegetarian.
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons with health being one of the most popular. When done correctly, vegetarians can live a healthy lifestyle without the need for meat. Before you go veggie you should know some of the benefits of going with a plant-based diet. Typically, a vegetarian diet is naturally low in saturated fats, and veggie foods of plant origin contain little or no cholesterol. Fruits, veggies, grains and legumes are also much higher in fiber than animal foods. Plant foods also contain significant amounts of vital B-vitamins, folic acid and are powerful sources of phytochemicals – nutrients that help every organ of the body work better.
Generally, the food that vegetarians eat tend to be fewer in calories than meat, and studies have shown that, not only does a vegetarian diet help you maintain a healthy weight, but as long as it is balanced and nutritious, those who consume fewer total daily calories live longer and healthier lives. Environmentally, vegetarianism is also believed to be healthier for the planet as it takes less energy and farmland to feed a vegetarian than it does to feed livestock so that they can feed those who do eat meat.
Vegetarianism can help individuals achieve good health in a variety of ways. You can always pick up a copy of “The Guide to Becoming a Vegetarian” to learn more reasons why a vegetarian lifestyle can be beneficial.