5 Tips to Start and Sustain a Vegetarian Diet
A vegetarian diet provides plenty of health benefits. For instance, a veggie diet can contribute to weight-management and prevent degenerative diseases like cancer. Other crucial benefits of being a vegetarian are having the peace of mind that comes with reducing your carbon footprint and taking part in stopping animal cruelty.
Nevertheless, we understand that breaking a habit is never easy. Keep on reading to learn our best five tips to start and sustain a diet for vegetarians.
Understand Your Nutritional Needs
With any diet — not just vegetarian diets — we must ensure that we are getting the necessary nutrients so our bodies can work properly. After all, food is an essential resource for our bodies to prevent illnesses and obtain energy.
For those starting a vegetarian diet, we highly recommend reviewing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the USDA. In these guidelines, you’ll find the nutritional needs according to your age group and portion intake.
Certain nutrients are a bit harder to get from a vegetarian diet. Therefore, we recommend including in your diet supplements or plant-based foods that contain:
- Vitamin B12. A crucial nutrient to maintain brain functioning and to produce red blood cells. You can get vitamin B12 from supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These promote anti-inflammatory benefits, which help to boost cardiovascular health and prevent depression. These nutrients are found in walnuts, chia seeds, algal oil, and flaxseeds.
- Zinc. This is an essential nutrient to regulate the immune system. Lentils, chickpeas, and tofu are good sources of zinc.
- Iron. Not getting enough iron could lead to anemia. Iron is found in lentils, tofu, chickpeas, and nuts.
As long as you have a balanced diet, there’s no reason why you would get nutrient deficiency with vegetarian foods.
It is easiest for most people to transition into a vegetarian diet gradually. For instance, we recommend starting by cutting off red meat, since it is one of the least healthy animal products and its production harms the environment.
By doing a gradual transition, you’ll have more time to learn vegetarian recipes that you like and that you don’t.
Experiment With Recipes At Least Once a Week
There’s a whole universe of vegetarian options. The more you experiment, the easier you’ll find out what kind of vegetarian recipes you like.
If you are struggling to find recipes, we recommend giving social media a try. There are plenty of influencers sharing their cooking skills on apps like TikTok and Instagram. A few of our favorite Instagram accounts where you can find plant-based recipes are:
- Max La Manna (@maxlamana)
- Samira Kazan (@alphafoodie)
- Chaheti (@rootedinspice)
- George Lee (@chez.george)
Communicate With Friends and Family
One challenge in becoming a vegetarian is eating with non-vegetarian people. It is best to tell your loved ones that you are making the transition. Most of your friends and family members are likely to support your choice. They may even be open to trying vegetarian food every so often with you.
Patience, Kindness, and Fun
As silly as it may sound, the most important thing to sustain a new habit is to have fun. Being too strict with your diet can lead you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you have a setback, keep in mind that it is okay. Eventually, you’ll get used to vegetarian foods and stop feeling the need to eat animal products. The key to transition is to be patient and kind to yourself.
At Z.E.N. Foods, we can help you transition to a vegetarian diet in a tasty and nutritious way. Please find out more about our vegetarian meal plans here. Or give us a call at (310) 205–9368. We are here to help!