Have you decided to go on a vegetarian diet? But, how do you have a smooth and healthy transition from your usual way of eating habits to the vegetarian way? Then, keep on reading to know more.
If you’re considering moving to a vegetarian diet as an adult, you probably want to pass on this good nutrition and improved way of eating to your family as well.
In fact, it’s your responsibility as a parent to nurture your children and help them develop physically, mentally and spiritually.
But that can be hard to do, especially in a culture where our children are bombarded with messages from fast food restaurants in the media.
How do you teach kids to resist the siren song of Ronald McDonald?
There isn’t a plate of vegetables on the planet that’s going to look as good to them as a Happy Meal!
You have to start slowly to change not only your own eating patterns but your family’s as well. Like any other dietary endeavor, it starts at the grocery store.
Begin stocking the refrigerator with healthy snacks like apples and carrots. Exchange good, chewy brown rice for white rice and processed side dishes, which are so high in fat and sodium.
Make meat portions smaller and smaller and start incorporating more vegetables and grains in your family dinners.
Don’t make changes all at once. If you do give in and stop at a fast food restaurant, get fruit or yogurt in addition to or part of that meal.
Make the changes so gradual that they’ll never notice their diets are changing. Kids are usually very sympathetic about animals, and it’s not too early to talk to them about eating in a way that isn’t cruel to animals.
You’ll be doing them a favor that will last them a lifetime. With childhood obesity at epidemic levels, you will be setting up your children for lifelong eating habits that will help ensure a long and healthy life.
When people talk about detoxification and cleansing the body of harmful toxins, it’s often seen as a fringe element of vegetarians.
People really don’t like to think about harmful toxins building up in their colons or in their arteries, but it’s often a by-product of a carnivorous diet.
A diet that’s high in fat and processed foods tends to slow down your digestive systems, and your elimination processes are also interrupted.
This can allow harmful bacteria and toxins to accumulate and can create a general feeling of sluggishness, as well as a host of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis.
When you begin eating a more healthy vegetarian diet, we start to get more dietary fiber into your systems, and all of a sudden, your digestive systems start to work better,
When you eliminate high-fat meat and processed foods from your diet, then much of your body’s energy is freed from the intense work of digesting these foods.
Everything becomes clearer – your blood, your organs, your mind. You start to become more aware of the toxic nature of the food you’d been eating before.
Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power.
You ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives.
The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones.
Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others.
In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity.
When you start a vegetarian eating plan, your body eventually cleanses itself of the harmful effects of these toxic foods.
Eliminate Red Meat
If you’re thinking of changing to a vegetarian diet, how do you start? Do you just start shopping in the produce aisle of the grocery store?
You might have some anxiety attached to this change as well, and this is understandable.
Try to think of this as adding to your dietary habits, rather than a drastic change.
If your diet has consistently included red meat, perhaps you can start substituting other foods for the red meat.
Or eliminate the most processed and high-fat meats first, such as bacon and hamburgers.
Certainly, try to eliminate fast food burgers, which have such a high fat and sodium content.
If you think you’ll miss the taste of bacon in the morning, try substituting a turkey or vegetable-based bacon substitute.
It won’t be the same, but you won’t be giving up the foods you’re used to all at once.
If you’ve had a health scare and feel the need to change everything at once.
Make sure you include a lot of variety in the foods you buy as you begin to discover new flavors and textures that you’ll like to replace the ones you’re used to eating.
If you don’t need to make a dramatic change all at once, you’ll have a much greater chance of long-term success if you take it slow.
Reduce the amount of red meat that you eat on a weekly basis, even if it means substituting pasta with marinara sauce for meat just one night a week. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat.
Start with raw vegetables at night before dinner so you’re not so hungry when you get to the main meal.
Start reversing the proportions of meat and vegetables and make meat a side dish, with vegetables and grains your main course.
People are creatures of habit and resistant to change.
This is why so many diets fail because we make drastic changes to facilitate dramatic results, quickly.
This is a decision and a change you want to make for a lifetime.
Make it a natural and gradual change and you can look forward to many more years of healthy living.
If you haven’t been eating a vegetarian diet for years and want to make the shift, it’s best to do so gradually, in stages.
A good way to start is to eliminate red meat and substitute fish or poultry for the red meat you’ve been eating.
While it’s not eating more vegetarian, you’re at least eliminating the biggest offender in disease-enhancing foods, red meat.
After you’ve successfully eliminated red meat, then start reducing the amount of poultry you eat.
While it’s not as bad for you as red meat, because it’s not as high in fat, it’s still meat that’s been raised on a farm in terrible, cramped and inhumane conditions.
Poultry is so laden with growth hormones and antibiotics that it’s nothing like a chicken or turkey that we might have hunted for food centuries ago.
Chickens are raised in horrible conditions, overfed and then slaughtered. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just as detrimental to our physical and spiritual health as eating red meat.
It’s also fairly easy to eliminate poultry from our diets because let’s face it – it’s like eating the wood pulp, it’s so tasteless.
All the antibiotics and abnormal living conditions have processed any natural flavor that poultry ever had in the first place.
Add more fish and seafood, if you’re not quite ready to replace poultry with grains and vegetables and legumes yet.
While there is a risk in eating fish and seafood, because of the high levels of mercury they contain, it’s a better alternative to poultry and red meat.
This may be as far as you ever get in moving towards vegetarianism, or at least eliminating meat from your diet.
Give yourself time to get used to this. You won’t miss poultry for a minute. We usually eat chicken and chicken breasts because it’s lower in fat and calories, but it’s also lower in any kind of nutritional value.
When we’re not getting essential proteins and vitamins, we’re still starving our bodies, regardless of how healthy we think we’re being.
Eliminating poultry is one of the most positive steps you can take towards a healthy diet and a healthy planet.
It’s actually pretty easy to eliminate red meat and poultry from our diets. When you give any thought whatsoever, the reasons are so compelling to stop eating them.
Your reasons may be physical because you need to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure.
You may want to reduce your risk of cancers that may run in your family, and eliminating red meat from your diet is an important way to do this.
You may also find that the way we mass-produce meat and poultry for consumption in this country are repugnant to you.
If we really thought about the way meat and poultry are raised, we’d never eat the stuff again. We’re consuming flesh that’s been produced from enormous pain and suffering.
Even the smallest life has value on this earth; mass producing these animals to slaughter and eat them degrades their lives and degrades our own in the process of eating them.
It might feel like it’s carrying things too far to eliminate something as elemental as a shrimp or a scallop. But think about what we dump into the ocean where this food comes from.
All our waste and trash gets hauled into the ocean if it doesn’t go into a landfill. Think of the millions of gallons of oil that have been dumped from oil tanker accidents.
Think of the impact that the erosion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere has had on every living thing on the planet.
There are toxic levels of mercury in fish and seafood, so much so that if you’re a woman contemplating getting pregnant, you most definitely shouldn’t eat fish.
Your risk of producing a baby with birth defects is extremely high if you do.
It can be hard to let go of fish and seafood because this has a similar texture to red meat and poultry. It’s flesh after all, even though it’s marine flesh.
It might take longer to eliminate fish and seafood from your diet but keep the effort.
If you’ve been realizing the benefits of eating more vegetarian, then it’s really a small step to take to eliminate this last piece of animal flesh from your diet.
Imagine how good you’ll feel about yourself and what you’re doing for the planet when making that last step and eliminate all meat and animal products from your diet.
Got milk? Reasons Not to Grab for the Glass
Many Americans, including some vegetarians, still consume large amounts of dairy products, but here are several strong reasons to eliminate dairy products from your diet.
Milk has long been praised as a ‘weapon’ in the war against osteoporosis.
But, recent clinical research shows that it actually is associated with a higher fracture risk, and there’s been no protective effect of dairy calcium on bone.
Increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables and beans, along with exercising have been shown to help strengthen bones and increase their density.
Dairy products are also a significant source of fat and cholesterol in the diet, which can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
A low-fat vegetarian diet that eliminates dairy products, as well as adequate amounts of exercise, proper stress management and quitting smoking not only will help prevent heart disease but could also reverse it.
Ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers have been linked to dairy product consumption.
According to a recent study by Daniel Cramer, a Harvard doctor, when excessive amounts of dairy products are consumed and the body’s enzymes are unable to keep pace with breaking down the lactose.
It can build up in the blood and affect a woman’s ovaries.
Another recent study showed that men who had the highest levels of IGF-I, (insulin-like growth factor) which is found in cow’s milk, they were at four times the risk of prostate cancer compared to those men who had the lowest levels of IGF-I.
In addition, milk may not provide a consistent and reliable source of Vitamin D in the diet.
Milk samplings have been found to have inconsistent levels of Vitamin D, and some have been found to have as much as 500 times the indicated safe level.
Excess Vitamin d in the blood can be toxic and can result in calcium deposits in the body’s soft tissues.
Milk proteins, milk sugar, fat, and saturated fat in dairy products may pose health risks for children and lead to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and formation of plaques in the circulatory system that can lead to heart disease.
By choosing to consume a nutrient dense, healthful diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fortified foods including cereals and juices, you can help meet your body’s calcium, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin D requirements easily and simply, without the added health risks from dairy product consumption.
Flipping the Switch to Vegetarianism
If you’ve made the commitment to becoming vegetarian yet finding it difficult to make the transition to your diet and your lifestyle. Here’s some suggestions on how to make the switch a smoother ride.
Start out with committing to be a vegetarian for three days per week for the first couple of weeks. Start substituting ingredients in your favorite dishes to make them truly meatless.
Throw in mushrooms to that marinara sauce to take the place of meatballs, or try some textured vegetable protein (TVP) in that lasagna recipe.
Making simple replacements in your tried and true recipes can inspire you to stay on the vegetarian track once you see how delicious they can be.
Next, commit to five days per week for the next two weeks. Study the natural foods aisle at your local grocer, or make it a point to introduce yourself to the local health foods store.
Treat yourself to a few new vegetarian products and try them for your next meal. The internet can be a great source of vegetarian recipes.
And don’t limit yourself to being vegetarian only at home. Most all restaurants offer delicious vegetarian entrees, so be sure to try them.
You may even find inspiration for your home cooking by doing so.
Now all that’s left to do is add two more days to your week, and you’ll be a converted vegetarian all week long!
After all, you’ve been doing it for a month now; you’ve become a seasoned rookie in the game.
Take pride in your accomplishments, because not only have you made positive changes in your lifestyle and eating habits but for the environment and animals as well.
Remember, it’s not about being perfect. Every animal-positive change you make it your diet has a great effect.
By rewarding yourself for each vegetarian choice you make, and you’ll be motivated to continue in the right direction.