Ten tips for new vegetarians

Thinking of switching to a meat-free diet? These tips will help you get started.

By Mike Lewis

1The best way to make the switch to a vegetarian diet is to take it gradually. Start by eating a veggie meal just one or two times a week, and build up from there. If you find the change difficult, do it slowly - there's no deadline.
2If you are unsure what to eat, opt for meat-free versions of your favorite dishes - pasta with lentil sauce instead of with a meat sauce, for instance.
3Get a couple of basic vegetarian recipe books. Peruse your local bookstore, or click here to browse veggie cookbooks at Amazon.Com or at Amazon UK.
4If an ingredient sounds weird, ignore it. Tofu, seitan, tempeh - these are great products when used properly, but they can be puzzling to the uninitiated. Don't worry. There are plenty of more familiar products available to get started with.
5Invite some vegetarian friends for dinner. It'll give you a great incentive to produce an appetizing veggie meal.
6Read up on nutrition. Most vegetarians have a healthier diet than most meat eaters, but you do need to keep an eye on what you're eating. You won't have to become an expert, but a passing knowledge of vitamins, minerals and the like will help ensure that you are getting a balanced diet.
7Stop by your local health food store. You'll get some good ideas for interesting ingredients.
8Join a local veggie society or chapter of your national vegetarian organization (see our links page for contact details). It's a great way of meeting people who share your outlook and ideals. Plus, you'll get advice and support to help you in your new life style.
9Get into the habit of reading the ingredients when you buy food. You'd be surprised how many seemingly innocuous products contains things that you would rather not eat.
10Above all, don't get hung up on eliminating meat and fish entirely. Sooner or later, you might reach a stage where you never want to eat animal products again. Until then, nobody's going to give you an argument over an occasional tuna sandwich or chicken salad. The important thing is to get started.

October 2003

Please note: Neither Veg World nor its contributors are qualified to give medical or nutritional advice. If in doubt, always consult a suitably-qualified professional.

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