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Nutrition

Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

12 Things to Know Before You Decide to Stop Eating Meat

Have you been thinking about giving up meat? Don’t miss these 12 important things to consider and know about becoming a vegetarian.

12 Things to Know Before You Decide to Stop Eating Meat


1. Starting slow is A-Okay.

Whatever the reasoning that sparked the lifestyle change, realize starting small and slow is A-Okay! Making slight modifications can ease the transition and lessen the overwhelming task of eliminating such a large chunk of a modernized diet.

Simple tips to ease into a vegetarian include giving meatless Monday a chance and incorporating more plant-based proteins in your daily lunches.

2. Becoming a vegetarian is not a sure way to lose weight.

Gravitating to a vegetarian diet in hopes to lose weight is all too common… But "eating vegetarian" or "going vegan" still provokes the risk of consuming high-calorie, innutritious foods.

While that burger may be made with texturized soy and those French fries are naturally devoid of meat products, continuously indulging on such "vegetarian-friendly" foods is not a sure way to lose weight.

3. …Although you could lose weight.

The effects of vegetarianism on the body personally vary based on other lifestyle factors, though you absolutely could lose weight and keep a healthy frame.

But like any sort of weight loss pattern, it is important to remain mindful of portion and serving sizes, especially when it comes to those high-calorie foods that essentially lack any sort of nutritional value.

But do not get discouraged to quickly, as weight loss is likely to follow if incorporating plant-based foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and plant-based proteins.

4. You might need to take a nutritional supplement.

From the iron supplied from beef to the protein offered by all meats… Giving up animal products may negotiate valuable nutrients the body requires to sustain good health.

That being said, you might need to take a nutritional supplement to combat deficiency risks. These seven vitamins should certainly be considered if deciding to dabble into a vegan lifestyle.

5. But you can also take advantage of nutritional hacks.

While supplementation may be warranted, there are hacks to increase the availability of common nutrients vegetarians and vegan may miss out on.

For instance, since vitamin C improves the absorption of iron, pair the following plant-based together:

• Squeeze lemon (vitamin C) atop quinoa (iron)
• Add strawberries or blueberries (vitamin C) to your oats (iron)
• Pair sweet potatoes (vitamin C) with lentils (iron)
• Enjoy some spinach and kale (rich in iron and vitamin C!)

Also speaking of spinach and kale, consuming leafy greens with fat helps to absorb carotenoids, which have shown to combat against cellular damage and protect overall health. (Just be sure to you use a healthy fat such as olive oil!)

You can also take advantage of a nutrient supplied by nature but not primarily from its bountiful produce… Vitamin D! Make it a point to step out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, along with using a minimum of SPF 30 for skin protection if deciding to bask a little longer.

6. Plant-based protein sources are essential in your diet.

While embracing nutritious fruits and veggies is encouraged, protein should not go unnoticed. Protein is a large concern when going vegan, as its properties are critical for maintaining muscle mass and other body functions.

Valuable plant-based sources include tofu and tempeh, beans, nuts and seeds, quinoa, and lentils.

7. Stay cautious of soy-based products.

Soy is often a mainstay in a plant-based diet, though it is important to be caution of its intake. And while the research remains inconclusive, soy continues to worry many, as high intakes of soy are insinuated to compromise hormone functions and instigate certain cancers.

However, soy has shown to be particularly safe when consumed in its whole form, rather than processed into "meatless" products that are high in sodium and other preservatives.

8. Eating vegetarian meals can still be cost-friendly.

"Eating healthy is more expensive" is commonly a deterrent to opt for nutritious meals at home over drive thru runs. However, such notion is far from the truth…

While purchasing organic products from a local health food store may come with a higher price tag, following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle does not have to break your bank, as beans, rice, and other plant-based foods are extremely cost-friendly.

Also continue to seek out weekly ads, take advantage of in-store specials and coupons, and purchase frozen or canned fruits and veggies (make sure there is no added sugars and drain and rinse canned products)!

9. You can still eat out.

Think you have to do away with eating out? Think again!

And not to mention, eating out does not even have to be stressful! Feel confident in sharing your diet requests with restaurant staff for best assistance, along with scoping out the menu before you go.

10. Expect to experiment.

While a plethora of food options ceases to exist following the elimination of animal products, you may anticipate cravings or even the desire to shake up flavorings.

Have fun experimenting with different recipes, utilizing various plant-based sources, including in this chickpea burger recipe or these vegan-friendly, sweet potato brownies!

11. Yes, it is still okay to eat meat!

Relax… Choosing to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is not a life sentence.

As mentioned, you might have cravings towards meat and that is absolutely just fine. Considering this is your choice, you are the one in control and ultimately, do what is best for you!

And if you (un)intentionally order and enjoy a beef burger, that is completely okay!

12. You might get questioned…

While you should not encounter too much trouble when eliminating meat, not everyone understands and supports the idea. That being said, you might get questioned and hear constant statements such as "Are you trying to lose weight?" or "I love steak too much, there is no way I could ever cut meat from my diet."

But whatever your reason of eliminating meat, it was a good idea for you and that is all that meatters!



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