What exactly do the words `vegan` or `vegetarian` mean? Few may know that being a vegan involves eating absolutely no
meat products (and this includes eggs) and no
dairy products. Honey also is not allowed and vegans instead take only plant products.`Vegetarian` is a little more relaxed and dairy products, and sometimes even eggs, are included. Even if your intention is to just cut down your daily meat intake, you might find this article useful. It would do you good to have a complete medical check up if you are intending to go in for a total change of diet.
If you have been a confirmed meat eater, the change-over is obviously going to be tough. There are people who cannot even imagine a diet that does not include meat in some form or the other. For these, it is probably wiser to start and proceed in small stages like you could begin by excluding one form of meat at a time.
You could, as a first step, give up eating pork/ red meat/ poultry/ fish well you got to begin somewhere
About six weeks down the line, you will find yourself running out of meat categories and well on the way to becoming vegetarian! This way, you get used to the slow transition and will certainly be able to sustain on a meatless diet until it becomes a habit.
Those who feel bold enough to make the change in one stroke are generally not able to withstand this total transition and may be tempted to give up midway in sheer frustration. People suffering from anaemia might find it difficult to turn veggie, but even they could take iron supplements that will help in dealing with their craving.
Let`s begin at the very beginning. Before you really go vegetarian, take these few steps as a preparation
- Make a list of all the meatless dishes you already enjoy
- Browse through vegetarian cookbooks and write down recipes that sound appealing to you
- Go to a local natural food store and check out some vegetarian foods. Try a few products made with soy
There are a few foods that are guaranteed to help you in turning veggie.
Tofu Most people dread the idea of getting used to this soya product on a daily basis. This is in itself a turn-off to all your noble intentions. Tofu is high in calcium and is almost a complete protein supplement. You have to take good care in preparing your tofu dishes and experiment with different preparations till you arrive at the one best suited to your taste. By adding this non-animal protein and calcium to your daily diet, you can replace your meat recipes.
Milk alternatives As we said earlier, being a vegan means no dairy products either. Again, it is soya milk that comes to your rescue. It might taste a bit funny in the beginning, but it all a question of getting used to a particular taste. You will find that most of these soya milk products are well fortified with added calcium and vitamins, and they make a good substitute for regular milk.
Veggie burgers/Hotdogs etc. have since flooded the market, brought in by multinationals who want to cash in on the growing veggie trend. These make a good substitute for meat as they simulate the taste in a purely vegetarian dish.
Cheese Many vegetarians increase their intake of cheese and cheese products in order to make up for the protein they were having in meat dishes. Most cheeses contain casein, a milk protein.
Yeast when added to foods gives a nice flavour and also gives additional protein, amino acids and vitamin B12.
Protein powders available in different flavours can give the added nutrition to your daily diet.
All you have to do is to research and find vegetarian recipes that are to your taste and once you zero in on about 8 10 recipes, you can use one every day. The important thing is to be aware of your nutritional needs and include enough of these in your diet. Our bodies especially need the following:
Made up mostly of amino acids. Both animal and soy products are complete in amino acids. Though most plant foods do have a variety of these amino acids, you have to make a judicious selection in order to see that all of them find a place in your diet.
- green leafy vegetables
- nutritional yeast
These should be part of your staple diet. Adult males require 50 60 gms and women about 40 - 50 gms of protein intake daily.
Especially important for women who need proper calcium intake to be fortified against brittle bones in old age. Again, all soy products are fortified with additional calcium and you could safely go in for these.
: As very few non-animal sources contain this important vitamin, go in for vitamin supplements and fortified soy milk. About 3 mg is what you need on a daily basis.
: There is generally no problem with iron as it is freely available in any vegetarian diet. All green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains contain adequate iron. Especially recommended is spinach which by itself, is sufficient for your quota of iron. Still concerned? Go in for a multivite that has iron also, but take it only for short periods and always follow your doctor`s advice on this.
All set then? Remember, the important thing is to stick by your decision, which we think, will be easier now with all the hints and tips we have provided. See that you follow your regimen even when you are eating out, whether at a friend`s place or in a restaurant without being conspicuous or loudly proclaiming your new status. You will only succeed in annoying people around you. Just make a routine for yourself that is easy to follow and stick by it. You will definitely succeed and find it rewarding, whatever your initial reason for becoming vegetarian might have been!