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Tips on Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet

author image Erin Fergus
Erin Fergus holds a master's in exercise science, teaches at the Greenville Technical College Personal Trainer Department in Greenville, S.C., and has the ACSM HFS and NSCA CSCS certifications. She is also completing a master's in journalism. She is a gluten-free, vegan bodybuilder interested in cooking, baking and waterfall hiking.
Tips on Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
Tofu is one of the many foods vegetarians consume. Photo Credit tofu image by Steve Lovegrove from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

People may choose to follow a vegetarian diet due to ethical reasons or health concerns, such as high cholesterol or cancer risks. Several levels of transitions can be labeled "vegetarian," including the avoidance of land animals but not fish, all meat, eggs and/or dairy or all animal-derived substances. The easiest transition is to eliminate meat because the meat ingredients are typically readily visible. Phasing out other products may be confusing at first, but reading labels and knowing in which sections of the supermarket to shop becomes routine with practice.

Transitioning to Vegetarianism

Step 1

Tips on Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarians may choose to include or eliminate eggs and dairy from their diets. Photo Credit eggs and milk image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com

Determine the appropriate strictness of vegetarianism and how lifestyle will be influenced. Decide whether to continue eating seafood (pescatarian), dairy products (lacto), eggs (ovo) or both (lacto-ovo vegetarian). Or decide to eliminate animal food products and byproducts completely (complete vegetarian, also known as vegan.) Newly transitioning vegetarians should also consider how they will handle situations in which vegetarian-friendly food options are not available.

Step 2

Tips on Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarians can eat many protein sources, including nuts, beans and legumes. Photo Credit seeds and legumes image by JCVStock from Fotolia.com

Begin replacing meat and possibly egg, dairy and other animal products by reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels. Meat substitutes include tofu, soy products/soybeans, processed faux meats, seitan, tempeh, nuts, hemp, beans and legumes. Milk can be replaced with soy, almond, rice and hemp varieties. Powered egg replacement, ground flax seed meal and even tofu can be substituted in egg recipes. Amy&#039;s Kitchen, Bob&#039;s Red Mill Natural Foods, Boca Burger, Cascadian Farm, Gardenburger, Kashi, Lightlife Foods, Morningstar Farms, Nature&#039;s Path Foods, Tofutti, Tofurky and Yves Veggie Cuisine are all popular brands with vegetarian options.

Step 3

Tips on Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet
Vitamin supplementation may be necessary is the diet does not have enough variety. Photo Credit Daily Vitamins and Minerals image by LynWatanabe.com from Fotolia.com

Consider adding one or more vitamin supplements if necessary. A multivitamin contains daily recommended values of various vitamins and minerals, but any of them can be taken singly as well. Calcium, which maintains bone and tooth health, is found most densely in dairy products. Iron is important for red blood cell functioning and is not as easily absorbed through plant sources. Vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent anemia and for energy, and it is found almost strictly in animal sources. These vitamins can be found in fortified foods and in pill form, but using only one or the other is necessary because overdosing is possible.

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