More than 30 percent of people will have staying fit and losing weight at the top of their New Year resolutions lists. For many, these goals are deeply tied to what they eat. While some will tweak their diets to support these health goals, others will adopt a new food lifestyle altogether: Vegetarianism.  

If you are planning to become vegan or vegetarian this year, there are tactics you can use to make the transition as smooth as possible. We share some tips below from people who have been at it for years. In addition, we’ve included short definitions of some of the most common vegetarian diets to help you determine which one might be best for you.

 

Vegans do not eat any animal flesh. This includes chicken, pork, beef and sea animals. In addition, vegans do not eat eggs, dairy products or any other product derived from an animal.

Vegetarians on the other hand tend to eat eggs and dairy products like milk and butter.

Raw foodists consume food that has not been cooked, processed, microwaved, genetically engineered or exposed to pesticides/herbicides. They typically eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs in their whole, natural state. Advocates for this diet believe that cooking our food eliminates most of the vitamins in the food.

Tips for new vegans and vegetarians

Many people in the three categories above report weight loss, a boost in energy, clearer skin, and other positive side effects. While there are many positive results of eliminating meat, dairy and processed foods from your diet, there are also challenges that catch some newbies by surprise. We found a few people who have been vegan and/or vegetarian for varying durations and asked them to share their top tips with us. Here’s what they had to say:

Victoria Lepe has been vegan for two years and is an advocate for plant based diets. Her advice is “be patient with yourself while transitioning and be patient with those around you. Always do your research before going out to eat and be prepared to bring food for yourself and to share at social events!”

Christopher McMichael, vegetarian for 3 years says: “There are tons of options and recipes! If you’re eating out, look at the menu ahead of time to make it easy. Also, while transitioning, items like Beyond Meat and Quorn are great options.”

Yao Lydia, 24, has been a vegetarian since age 10. He tips are to use Boca, Gardein and Morningstar products as a substitute for meat. He adds that beans and nuts provide a lot of protein.

One Twitter user @HENNYNSAGE says Pinterest is the place to go for meal ideas. She also advises people to pick 1-2 meals out of the day and change them to vegan/vegetarian first. “Don’t try it all at once.” Lastly, @RobbyVeliDaDon says to “plan your meals for the week – google is your friend!”

It is important to research, plan and prep as you embark on this journey. While advice from others will be extremely helpful, remember that not everything they advise will necessarily work for you. Be realistic in setting your goals and remember to celebrate your small wins along the way.

 

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