So, you're interested in becoming a vegetarian? You might consider vegetarianism for many reasons: for ethicality, for your health, for the environment, etc. Personally, I simply did not enjoy eating meat anymore, and I realized that my body felt the best when I consumed mostly plant-based foods. When it comes down to it, it's important to choose a diet that suits your body and your mind. 

No matter what your reason is for switching to a vegetarian lifestyle, it can definitely feel a little daunting when you're just starting out. Here are some tips that will help you on your path to becoming a vegetarian!

Choose a Plan

Casey Dai

There are actually a few different types of vegetarianism, each with different limitations on the products consume. To start, there is often confusion regarding the difference between "vegetarianism" and "veganism." Vegans are people who omit all animal-based products from their diet, including foods like meat, eggs, and dairy. While vegetarians also do not eat meat, they generally still consume eggs and dairy products—although some vegetarians might also not eat eggs.

Make sure to choose a plan that is the most suitable for your lifestyle, and you can always experiment to see which one fits your eating habits the best.

Start Easy

Casey Dai

Instead of jumping straight into a full-on vegetarian diet, try doing Meatless Mondays or eating vegetarian dishes a few days a week. This way, the change won't feel jarring, and your body will have more time to adjust to your new lifestyle. Eventually, it will be easier to fully adopt a vegetarian diet. If you can't quite let go of meat just yet, try incorporating more vegetables into your dishes and using smaller portions of meat.

Looking for some Meatless Monday inspiration? Here is a full day of vegetarian meals that you can make using ingredients from Trader Joe's.

Look For Alternatives

Casey Dai

When I tell people that I don't eat meat anymore, the most common questions I get are "won't you miss eating X or Y?" and "how do you make sure you eat enough protein?" Although there are certain dishes that won't ever be vegetarian-friendly—steak, for example—you can certainly substitute meat with plant-based proteins in most dishes. My personal favorite plant-based protein is tofu, and I usually throw it in my stir-fried vegetables for an extra boost of fuel.

If you're really craving the taste/texture of meat, there are a lot of meat alternatives on the market, and most can be found at your local grocery store. 

Switch Things Up

Casey Dai

In the beginning of my journey, I wasn't sure how to approach making my meals vegetarian. As a result, I spent many sad nights eating plain pasta or sautéed vegetables with rice. However, one of my vegan friends reminded me that eating should be fun, and she introduced me to new recipes—including this vegetarian bibimbap that I'm absolutely obsessed with. Aside from trying new recipes, switch up the vegetables that you normally buy at the grocery store and experiment with different flavors, textures, and seasonings. 

#SpoonTip: Check out these creative vegetarian recipes from Bon Appetit if you want to try something new.

At the end of the day, it's easier to think of vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice, rather than a strict set of guidelines you have to follow. Regardless of why you chose to adopt vegetarianism, it's important to be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack when you're just starting out. 

Good luck, and happy eating!