If you are currently following a diet that is primarily based on animal foods, switching to a vegetarian diet is not going to be easy for you. However, it is worth trying, especially if you are suffering from health issues like obesity and heart disease.
The diet you follow is in fact a habit and changing habits are never easy. In this article, we discuss the challenges you can expect while switching to a vegetarian diet.
When you make a diet swap, some foods will disappear from your daily meals and their place will be occupied by new plant foods, some of which might be unfamiliar to you.
Some foods in the vegetarian diet make up for the proteins you will lack on avoiding protein-rich animal foods like meat and dairy. They include tofu, tempeh, seitan etc.
New Styles Of Cooking
The cooking styles of plant foods will not be the same as that of animal foods. It may take some time for you to adjust to the new styles of cooking of plant foods that you have never attempted to cook before. You can get the necessary guidance from cookery websites and books.
Changing Your Palette
Some of the foods in your new diet will be altogether new to you and it is possible that you might have a desperate craving for the animal foods you enjoyed before. Understand that it is a passing phase and that your taste buds will gradually adjust to the new flavors in the plant based diet.
Instead of thinking of the foods that you can’t eat, just think of the wide selection of plant foods you can try. While you slowly filter out overly processed foods, your taste buds will slowly adjust to it and will not crave for overwhelming flavors anymore.
Switching to a vegetarian diet means that you are going to take more time for shopping and cooking. But that too is a first timer’s issue because you will gradually gain experience and will not take much time for shopping and cooking.
A common misconception about the vegetarian diet is that it is all about fruits and vegetables. It isn’t. Many people report feeling hungry after adopting a vegetarian diet but the underlying cause is the type of plant foods they have added in their diet. If the meals are low in carbs, it is normal for you to feel hungry.
Add foods like grains and legumes that are rich in carbohydrates and fiber to feel fuller.
Your body will definitely experience some changes including issues like more gas, bloating and constipation. This is nothing to worry about because of several factors.
The first reason for the aforementioned changes is that your fiber intake has increased. The body will take some time to adjust to the increased fiber intake. To avoid giving excess strain to your digestive system, you have to start by eating cooked vegetables instead of choosing raw veggies the first time.
If your body has difficulties in digesting grains, add them in smaller amounts to your meals and use some root veggies in place of a larger portion of grains. You may also use digestive bitters after meal for improved digestion.
The second reason is that you are changing the bacterial profile of your microbiome by choosing to eat plant foods. As you are doing this to improve your health, have some patience to go through the uncomfortable adjustment period to get the benefit of healthier digestion in the future.
Other lesser reported issues associated with diet swap (to vegetarian diet) include fatigue, headache, insomnia, acne and irritability. These symptoms are usually found in people who have been on a diet that was based on heavily processed foods. There isn’t anything abnormal about it and the symptoms will go away.
Ignoring your cravings is never easy. When you have recently adopted a vegetarian diet, it is possible that you will miss the foods that you really enjoyed while you were on a non-vegetarian diet. But you have to realize that the cravings will pass after you adjust to your new diet.
To handle your cravings, you can find appropriate vegetarian substitutes.
You are going to experience emotional highs and lows in your journey. Do not be so hard on yourself and realize that it is almost impossible to perfectly switch to a vegetarian diet, especially if you are a person who was so fond of animal foods. You will definitely see your efforts bearing fruit if only you give some time.
A vegetarian diet offers various benefits. It is the best way to get many necessary vitamins that are absent in many animal foods. However, people on vegetarian diets may sometimes need to take some supplements like calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, as plant foods tend to be generally low in these nutrients.