Have you ever thought of becoming a vegetarian? If you have been a carnivore your whole life, going veggie is a serious lifestyle change. And like any type of diet, it can be difficult at first — but rewarding if you see it through. Read on to discover everything you need to know if you decide to become a vegetarian.

1. Know your protein

In our natural diet, meat is our primary source of protein. And protein is important for building muscles. In short, you need it to feel strong and healthy. Fortunately for vegetarians, there are plant-based proteins that you can incorporate into your diet. Some non-meat sources of protein include:

  • Leafy greens (e.g. spinach)
  • Nuts (e.g. cashews, pistachios, and almonds)
  • Tofu

Dried fruits like dates, apricots, and raisins are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

2. Learn how to substitute and love it!

Craving for a hamburger? The secret to enjoying your favourite dishes without eating meat is substitution. Almost anything you can think of can be substituted with grain, tofu, and even mushrooms. It’s all about getting creative and experimenting with flavours.

One thing to keep in mind is that substitutes don’t always taste like the real thing - it’s up to your preferences that’ll ultimately decide what you go for. Just be sure to manage your expectations before taking a bite.

3. Explore your community

Cooking at home is not always fun and exciting, especially when you feel stuck on what dishes to cook. It’s worth exploring your community and seeking out vegetarian restaurants. The vegetarian diet is pretty popular nowadays so you should have a lot of options around you.

4. Learn everything you can about vegetarianism

There’s more to being a vegetarian than eating vegetables all day. If you do your homework diligently, you’ll soon find out that you can eat almost anything that meat lovers eat - minus the meat, of course.

The internet is your friend here. Just type in vegetarian and/or vegan recipes in Google and you’ll be presented with thousands of options that you can try.

5. Don’t be afraid to try new foods

This is connected to the above. There are a lot of vegan options out there and the secret to enjoying them is getting yourself excited to try new foods. To help ease the transition, start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet — especially those that you don’t eat regularly.

6. Make sure you have the right equipment

Good news! You don’t have to refurbish your entire kitchen when you become a vegetarian. All you need to get started is a good quality blender and a couple of jars for storage. Once you get the hang of the basics, you can start looking into other equipment like spiralizers to add some twist of creativity in your meals.

7. Start small and be consistent

The key to becoming a successful vegetarian is consistency. And the best way to stay consistent is by taking baby steps. Don’t ditch all of your meat products right away. Doing this might cause some withdrawal symptoms and it will be hard for you to enjoy the diet. Start by slowly eliminating meat from your dishes until you become comfortable.

Don’t stress over it. If you’ve been a meat-lover your entire life, going vegetarian may be extremely challenging at first. Studies show that it takes at least two months for humans to fully adjust on a new behaviour. So, be patient with yourself.

8. Let your friends and family know

Letting those close to you know that you are going vegetarian will make it easier for you to adjust. They can also be a great source of support in your new diet. For example, if your friends know that you are a vegetarian, they’ll prepare for future events and cater to your needs. Like any lifestyle changes, having the right people around you as support is key to seeing it through.