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tips for going vegetarian
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life as a vegetarian began back in high school. One day, staring
down at a chicken dinner that my mother had cooked for us, I had
a revelation: that was a CHICKEN. Formerly alive. And not some
chicken raised on "Old MacDonald’s Farm," living an
idyllic little farm existence before it ended up on my plate.
Rather, this chicken had suffered, like most of the animals that
are raised for meat in this country do, in factories where they
are crowded and abused. My meat days were over, and I haven’t
looked back since.
Vegetarianism (eating no animals – yes this includes
chicken and fish), and veganism (consuming no animal products at
all, including dairy) may not be mainstream. But the vegetarian
and vegan lifestyles are healthy, ecologically sound, and
besides: veggie cooking is fun. There are so many flavors and
foods out there that we often ignore in favor of meat, that
going vegetarian can actually expose you to a far greater
variety of delicious dishes than you ever experienced in your
omnivorous days. Armed with a little information, and some
desire, anyone can make the change.
1. Go slow.
You don’t have to give up meat all at once – it might be
easier to gradually reduce the amount of animal foods in your
diet over weeks or months. Change that feels right for you and
your body is more likely to last. You may start to have doubts,
like "Am I doing the right thing?" This is normal.
Give yourself time to adjust.
2. Start with your favorites.
Alter your favorite recipes to make them vegetarian. You may
discover that much of what you love to eat is already
vegetarian, or easily can be with just a minor substitution or
two (if others in your home still eat meat, divide portions,
making part of the dishes meatless). If you like vegetable
lasagna, stir-fried vegetables, or pasta primavera, begin your
transition to the vegetarian life by making these dishes more
often. Start adding beans to casseroles and pasta sauces while
decreasing the meat. Top salads with chickpeas. Mix brown rice
with black beans and salsa for a quick meal. (Just remember to
drink more fluids, like water, juices, or decaf beverages to
help with the increased fiber!)
3. Fake it.
If you can't live your life without the taste of
meat, vegetarian alternatives are widely available. Most taste
so much like the real thing you’ll have trouble telling the
difference, and the taste and texture of fake meat products keep
getting better. Try the veggie versions of chicken patties and
nuggets, hamburgers, sausage, pepperoni, turkey, bacon, hot dogs
moseying this way !
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