{News and Views} How to Ease Into a Vegetarian Lifestyle

If you’ve been toying with the idea of going vegetarian, it might be the perfect time. Reports have been hitting the news feeds since  last year about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) being  found in pork, beef and poultry in the United States. On May 13th, the Independent covered another story about US supermarket  meats testing positive for the super bug. If a viewing of Food Inc. hasn’t already set off culinary alarms, the idea of this antibiotic resistant virus should. A vegetarian lifestyle change needn’t be complicated though, and might even be fun for the entire family. Here’s just a few ways to ease into this healthy adventure.

Start with Meatless Mondays

Many families across the country are enjoying one night a week free of meat. Even restaurants have cashed in on the fun and found a whole new market of patrons enjoying this fun alternative. Not only a money saver, Meatless Mondays also offers families a great way to try out new recipes and expand their palates. The Meatless Mondays website offers a bounty of recipes that are sure to become family favorites.

Make Small Changes

If Meatless Mondays go well, keep replacing meat during a few more meals.  If sausage or bacon normally beefs up your morning omelet, simply substitute with a soy alternative or use mushrooms. This not only helps bulk up the meal, it can add delicious flavor and helpful fiber to your diet. The soy alternatives on the market taste, and even look, like the original. They will also help maintain your dietary protein needs.

Use Culinary Trickery

Sometimes all we need is the color and shape of our favorite foods to satisfy our need. Lightly sauteed, shredded carrots can replace cheese in many dishes. Even if a complete Vegan lifestyle isn’t your goal, cutting down on dairy is a great way to lower fat intake. A thick, grilled portabella mushroom looks very similar to a hamburger once all your favorite condiments are added. Add a little steak sauce and the mind does all the work tricking the senses into believing your veggie “burger” is a nice piece of meat.

Just Add Extra Veggies

Find a way to add an extra vegetable to each meal of the day while decreasing the size of the meat portion. Ground beef is an ingredient where this works perfectly. When making tacos with ground beef, add bell peppers and mushrooms while lowering the amount of beef used. Try cutting the meat by a quarter and then half. Eventually a soy replacement can be introduced with little notice except new and delicious flavors.

Going vegetarian can be an exciting way to bring some spark back into the kitchen. Its required planning  opens the door to family conversations on favorite foods and how to change recipes to meet the new lifestyle. Make a game of turning family favorites into veggie alternatives. For those wondering about health benefits and even concerns,  Savvy Vegetarian has helpful tips including advice for children to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

CC photo courtesy of Natalie Mayner on Flickr

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  1. I became a Pescatarian a year ago, in a carnivorous family. It’s hard to cook just vegetarian cold turkey – no pun intended. But we are definitely eating less meat and eating more veggies and seafood. But a slow transition is a way to go if your family is not with you quitting cold turkey. I am planning to cut out seafood from my own diet soon too.

    Great post!

  2. thank you so much for writing this article!
    As a vegan, so many people ask me questions about my protein, vitamins, calcium, etc. but the last time I went to have blood work done, they were IMPRESSED at how high my levels were and how healthy I was, when so many people are still skeptical at maintaining a balanced healthy diet. My biggest staple is nutritional yeast. You can find it in bulk at whole foods, and it makes an awesome healthy alternative to cheese and dairy!

  3. Fabulous article. Already a veggie & I highly recommend the Tofurky sausages – especially the sundried tomato. Omnivores are always amazed that it is tofu!!! Bon appetite.