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February 2022

How to Ease into Plant-Based Eating

If you’re thinking about giving up meat, you may be wondering what the best approach is: a gradual transition or an overnight transformation?

Paper grocery bag full of colorful vegetables and fruits

You can, pardon the pun, go cold turkey, but it will likely be easier to add more plants to your plate slowly. This will give you time to find foods you really like to eat, making for a more pleasant—and tastier—experience.

Why go meat-free?

There are many reasons why you might want to stop consuming meat. Plant-based diets:

  • Conserve natural resources like water

  • May contribute to lowering cholesterol, protecting against cancer, preventing heart disease, and managing diabetes

  • Can save money, given that meat usually costs more per pound than other protein sources

4 tips to start your journey

Ready to move into the world of the willing vegetarian? Here’s how to get started:

  • Experiment with different strategies. You could start with “Meatless Mondays,” ban bacon from breakfast, or try eating a plant-based diet until dinner. Whatever you choose, stick with it until it becomes routine, then add on.

  • Change the way you approach meal planning. You might be used to having meat at the center of your plate, then thinking about sides to accompany it. Instead, put the emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. These are great building blocks to give you the protein, fiber, and other nutrients you need.

  • Keep health at the forefront. Not all vegetarian diets are created equal. Sweet treats, chips, and overly processed meat substitutes shouldn’t make up the majority of what you eat. To reap the health benefits of this way of eating, look for foods that are low in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fat.

  • Mind your nutritional needs. Vegetarians should make sure to eat enough calcium, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Fortunately, there are good non-meat sources for all of these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
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