What's the best way to start a Vegetarian or Vegan diet?
by Healthsoup

What's the best way to start a Vegetarian or Vegan diet?


Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD

Moving toward a plant-based eating plan is a great, but you want to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to function. The first thing I ask people when they tell me they want to become a vegetarian is "why/" Are you doing it for ethical reasons, because your think it is healthier, taste preferences, to lose weight, etc.? If you are able to pinpoint your motivation, it will be easier to determine if this is a viable option or a passing fancy.

Next, you need to decide which type of vegetarianism you want to embrace. Are you going to abstain from all animal products (vegan), eat fish (pescatarian), allow yourself dairy and eggs(lacto-ovo), consume eggs (ovo) or flexitarian (mostly plant-based with minimal animal products)?

Regardless of the type, you should start by not eliminating items from your diet, but instead, adding more plant-based option. As you increase you plant-based foods, you should decrease the animal products. I suggest starting with vegetarian lunches and then each week substitute a a dinner with a meatless option. Breakfast is the easiest meal to make vegetarian so I usually suggest changing that last.

Since you don't want to feel deprived, it is important to plan and have the right foods on hand. Search cookbooks and on-line resources for easy vegetarian meals, plan a weekly menu and shop according to a list. This will help to ensure that you are eating a well-balanced diet.

If you have decided to become a vegan, I would suggest setting up an appointment with a registered dietitian who can discuss the areas where you need to pay special attention.

Need Personalized Diet Advice?

Get 1-on-1 coaching with a US Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Achieve health & fitness goals with reliable, science-based diet advice.