Some people decide to become vegetarian for health reasons, others out of a commitment to the environment, and others to oppose animal suffering. Whatever your motivation, eliminating meat and fish from your meals – whether permanently or occasionally – requires some adjustments.
Yes, it is quite possible to be a vegetarian and healthy.
Being a vegetarian means excluding all consumption of meat (red, white, deli meats, and other derivatives) but also fish and shellfish. In short, all animal flesh.
Contrary to vegans, vegetarians consume foods produced by animals such as honey, milk, eggs, and therefore cheese.
Becoming a vegetarian will not jeopardize your health. On the contrary, you will question your diet, ask questions, and pay more attention to it. This is very good. It is wrong to think that people who follow an omnivorous diet are de facto healthier.
It is important to take stock of your health (whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore) and to seek professional advice to make this transition smoothly and successfully.
Yes, it is possible to be vegetarian and sporty.
As long as you are in good health and your diet is balanced, there is no contraindication.
Yes, it is possible to be a vegetarian and have a pregnancy without endangering the health of the baby.
Again, it’s all about balance. If your diet is balanced and the mother-to-be is medically monitored to compensate for any deficiencies, there is no particular problem.
You should also know that a vegetarian diet is suitable for children of all ages. Up to one year of age, breast milk/formula should be the only source of protein. After that and until the child is 3 years old, he or she will gradually reduce the amount of milk consumed and will be able to eat a little animal or vegetable protein. Milk covers about 70 to 80% of his protein needs. Consult a specialist to learn about all the subtleties of changing a young child’s diet.
The 5 Golden Rules To Become Vegetarian
1. Take a blood test to make sure you don’t have any basic deficiencies
This is a good idea, regardless of your diet. If you lack iron or vitamin B12, for example, it is important to take supplements to restore the levels and adapt your diet accordingly.
Having deficiencies is not an obstacle in itself to changing your diet, as long as you take them into account so as not to create new imbalances.
The omnivorous diet, if not balanced, can also be the source of deficiencies.
2. Proceed in stages
Even if you are highly motivated, eliminating meat and fish from your meals for good can be a real challenge if you have always eaten them. To reach your goal and stick to it, it is advisable to proceed in stages.
Don’t put pressure on yourself, there is no “right” timing. The goal is simply to get there.
Start by cutting out meat for one meal a week, one day a day, or one full day a week. Get your bearings. Go at your own pace. Feel comfortable and then move to two days, then three, and progress little by little.
3. Eat what you like
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarian cuisine is gourmet and full of flavor. Your greediness should not be an obstacle.
To limit and then eliminate meat, start by replacing the meats you eat by habit with those you like. Swap those meats you like less with something you enjoy such as extra vegetables, legumes (seitan, tofu, etc.), or eggs.
The goal is to get you used to eat foods that you enjoy and that you could eventually eat every day. Slowly introduce foods that you like but that you were not used to eating regularly such as lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Whether you are an omnivore or vegetarian, it is important to have a balanced and varied diet.
4. Ask for help
Becoming a vegetarian can be complicated for some people. And this is quite normal. It implies modifying food habits that are sometimes strongly anchored. Indeed, in our country, a traditional meal consists of meat, starch, and a vegetable. It also means changing the way we shop, cook, etc.
It is quite possible to start the adventure alone, by reading books or blogs, by looking for recipe ideas on the internet or Youtube, etc. The web is a gold mine on the subject if you have the desire and the time
Or, you can call upon a food professional who will simplify the process by giving you advice, guidance, and finding solutions to your little daily obstacles.
In our culture, we tend to cure an illness once it is there. Rather than preventing it.
5. Listen to your body
A change in diet can cause internal and external physical changes. Listen to how you feel. If the transition is made with common sense, becoming vegetarian will not be an “effort” for the body. There is no need for an adaptation period. At most, some people with sensitive digestive systems may feel discomfort when eating legumes and should start with small portions.
However, if you suddenly feel :
- intense and unusual fatigue
- a feeling of being hungry more often or needing larger amounts to feel full
- stomach cramps
- difficulty waking up or falling asleep
This means that something is not working properly. Take a blood test, consult a doctor and a nutrition specialist to help you get back in shape.
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