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Healthy Eating: How To Become a Vegetarian

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Creating healthy eating habits for everyone in your family might be important to you. Teaching your kids the importance of vegetables and nutrition might be of interest to you. Becoming a vegetarian might be a big priority for you. It was for me.

Being a vegetarian is not all about eating tofu and raw vegetables all the time; it's a choice that my family has made to be healthier and kinder to the world around us! Everyone has their own reasons to be or not to be vegetarian and it is a personal choice. I am not here to judge — I am here to give you some tips and tricks if you would like to cut some meat from your diet in the new year!

How To Become a Healthy Vegetarian

Educate Yourself

You first need to educate yourself and know that often times vegetarians may become deficient in vitamin D, protein, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, and Calicum when they remove meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs from their diet. This statement shouldn't discourage you, but empower you to learn more about what's in the food that you are eating. Those deficiencies can easily be resolved by eating more green and leafy vegetables,  drinking calcium fortified orange juice, and eating more beans/seeds/nuts/grains/etc. Simply put: It's eating more of "whole" foods. Foods that don't have preservatives in them or foods that haven't been cooked, recooked, and cooked again before packaging.

Set Goals

You need to set some goals for yourself, but at the same time be realistic. Becoming a vegetarian is a huge lifestyle style change and it will take time. I found that it was easier for my family to take baby steps during the process.

A simple goal might be to have one family dinner a week that is meatless. I know, I know, that is not very much but if you are coming from a strict meat and potatoes type of family, one night a week is a huge change.

Another small step you can take is to eliminate meat products from breakfasts and lunches before moving to an all meatless dinner plan. I have many friends who have first eliminated red meat from their diets and then moved to removing poultry products.

Find Recipes

You need to find some fun and exciting recipes. Take your favorite recipe and make it without meat. We did that with our favorite stir fry and loved it! My advice would be to not try meat replacement products at first when you are trying to make the switch to a non meat diet. When we first switched over to being vegetarian, we tried many meatless products and they did not taste good. After being vegetarian now for several years, most of those products taste good.

A lot of people ask if we miss meat. Honestly, I don't miss it. I did think that I would miss hamburgers and steak. Nope, no way, I don't. It was a pretty big adjustment for our extended family though. It took several years before my husband's father quit asking us if we wanted turkey at Thanksgiving, after all it was white meat. Again, it's about education and patience.

Own It

So my advice to you is to explore and educate yourself. There are no rules to this game. I am a vegetarian who eats very little dairy, my husband is a vegetarian who eats fish and dairy, my older son is a vegetarian who eats dairy, and my younger son is a vegetarian who is dairy free but eats eggs. So you can see how diverse it can be. You make your own plan, follow it, and own it! You can do it!

What is your favorite healthy meal? How do make sure you are eating fruits and veggies in your diet?

Pictures courtesy of flickr.

Cindy Gordon, founder of the blog, Vegetarian Mamma, is a wife and mamma of two energetic boys! Cindy loves to dish about recipes, vegetarianism, saving money, home schooling and her new life as a mamma to a child with life threatening allergies. Be sure to  follow "Vegetarian Mamma" on Facebook and Twitter @Vegetarianmamma

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