By: Dr. Masoud Abdar
Gorillas are the strongest primates in the world, yet they eat no meat. Getting all your nutrients is tangible without animal dependency, and it’s more humane. You may have your personal reasons to want to become a vegetarian, but you have either feared starting your journey or you started for a while but returned back to meat inclusive diets. Aside from inspiring yourself to become a vegetarian by writing down its benefits, it is also important to create clever methods to stay on track until new habits become forever routines. Here are a few helpful pointers.
Research demonstrates that all people, especially those with autoimmune disorders that eat fewer saturated fats and “inflammatory foods,” maintain better health. However, all that can seem like an unachievable mission if you’ve been accustomed to eating meat and seafood all your life so start slow. Word of advice is to start by removing just one meat group from your diet for 30 day until the urge to want to consume it becomes miniscule. For instance, if you eat little to no beef products weekly anyway, start by eliminating this meat. After successfully completing 30 days of no beef, move onto no pork or bacon or ham products. Then onto salmon if you’re already barely eating it, and so forth. You can tweak the timeline to better suit your needs too to make this gradual method more adaptable.
Now let’s discuss the vegetarian substitutions and how to strategically introduce them into your diet:
Spinach– When cooked, it is packed with iron. Yet it contains no saturated fat like beef. I don’t know about you but a side of sautéed spinach is manageable and kind to the palate.
Beans– There are countless kinds of legumes on the market, and all of them could do the same job: protein replacement. You don’t have to try or like all of them. Pick a few or at least one favorite, and incorporate it in your dishes. Start with a common dish you love that has beans, such as a Mexican salad bowl for instance. You could also try veggie and beans imitation meats from your grocer, like burger patties.
Tofu– A high calcium and iron option is this. Not only is it versatile like beans, but it also packs high protein content. It is believed to help lower levels of bad cholesterol too. Start by making any dish that requires meat but substitute it with tofu, or simply buy tofu flavored imitation meats. Just read ingredient lists carefully to avoid animal product additives, in all foods you decide to consume.
Eggplant– Just like a hearty Portobello mushroom, eggplants have always been one of the most used meat alternatives. It mimics meat so nicely and tastes pretty amazing when cooked different ways. Not to mention it’s more affordable than meat. Try it as a substitute instead of a chicken parmesan next time. It is high in calcium, iron, protein, virtually a super vegetable like the rest.
Avocado– This one definitely provides a large amount of proteins, fats and enzymes which are all common in meat. It is considered a super food. Most important, it tastes wonderful and fresh. Try it on top of toast, plain, or on top of any salad or sandwich!
Dairy and eggs– Since vegetarians aim to eliminate meat however not animal products, this option is open to your discrepancy. If you don’t intend to go full on vegan, take advantage of the good cholesterols and protein in egg whites especially, and enjoy dairy products in moderation if you’re not lactose intolerant.
* Those were just a few options, as the list could go on and on. Do your personal research to see what you like and are willing to expand your horizons for. Also, you’d be surprised what portals of flavors you open your taste buds to by looking up new and exciting vegetarian (or vegan) recipes. These recipes are often simple and are embellished with creativity so give them a try! Not all veggies break the bank either. You’d be surprised how much you’ll save by slowly transitioning to not having to purchase meat anymore. Plus, the animals will thank you, as even the farms that claim they humanely harvest meats, are deceiving.