Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How to go from part-time to full-time vegetarian

How to go from part-time to full-time vegetarianAfter experimenting with vegetarian eating for a while, I’m ready to go full-time. What’s the best way?

There’s never been a better time to switch to a totally meatless diet. Grocery stores and restaurants have more meatless products and more types of fruits and veggies than ever. And once you’ve started, you’ll almost certainly feel better, shed unwanted pounds and improve your health. But if simply taking the first step seems daunting, here’s a way to make it easy.

1. Think of three dishes you already eat regularly that happen to be vegetarian—perhaps spaghetti marinara, vegetable stir-fry, bean burritos, lentil soup, vegetable stew, hummus with pita bread.

2. Think of three meals you like that could easily be made meatless. A meat-filled lasagna transforms into a spinach lasagna. Beef fajitas effortlessly become vegetable fajitas filled with sautéed peppers, onions, beans, rice and guacamole. Chicken curry readily converts to a hearty vegetarian curry.

3. Select a few new vegetarian dishes you’d like to try. Page through any issue of VT, and experiment. Try stuffed winter squash, black bean enchiladas, eggplant manicotti, pan-grilled portobellos, avocado sushi, grilled polenta with asparagus smothered in spicy tomato sauce—you name it. Once you’ve found three new main dishes you like, you’re set. You now have nine meals that you enjoy and that happen to be vegetarian and healthful. That’s more than enough to keep you going for a while.

Written by Neal Barnard, MD

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