vegetarian familyWhether it’s for health or moral reasons, more and more people are turning to vegetarian and vegan diets. If you have been considering such a lifestyle shift, making the transition is easier than ever before! From the abundance of online recipes to vast improvements in meat substitutes, here are six helpful tips to consider when making the switch.

Embrace meatless Mondays.

Worried about push-back from a skeptical family? Start slow with “Meatless Mondays,” a growing movement to cut out meat on the first day of the work week. Los Angeles recently approved a resolution declaring their encouragement of the weekly meat-free day for “the health of their citizens and the planet,” following in the footsteps of 23 countries that have already supported this practice.

Where can I find recipes online (that my kids will like, too)?—>


Utilize the online community.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, finding a recipe for a delicious, meat-free meal is only one click away. Need to make that meal gluten-free, sugar-free, low-fat, or all natural as well? There are blogs and forums overflowing with recipes and suggestions. Vegetarian Times or Veg Source are perfect starting points. Want to drop dairy and eggs too? Check out Fat Free Vegan or Happy Herbivore for yummy ideas that you won’t believe are vegan!

Don’t fear menus.

Are you concerned about having difficulty with the menu when eating out? Don’t be! More restaurants are offering vegetarian entrées. Consider ethnic restaurants, as they typically offer vegetarian (and even vegan) fare. Go for eggplant parmesan or pasta primavera at Italian restaurants, vegetarian sushi and noodle dishes at Japanese places, and vegetarian burritos, fajitas, or enchiladas at Mexican eateries. Going somewhere new? Check out their online menu ahead of time or call before you go so you can easily figure out your options. 

Seize social outings. 

Don’t feel like you’re stamped with a big “V” when you walk into your next social gathering! If you’re attending parties where you know the hostess, talk to her ahead of time and offer to bring a dish. With your newfound blogs, it will be all too easy to whip up something that even the most staunch meat lovers will dig. Off to a wedding or formal event? No worries; a vegetarian pasta choice is usually offered for a plated dinner, and you’ll be able to easily spot the veg-friendly options at a buffet. 

But will my family get the nutrition we need?—>


Don’t panic over nutrition.

There’s no need to stress about protein or omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. While meat does contain a large amount of protein, if you are consuming enough calories and eating a reasonably varied diet of whole foods like legumes, grains, fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, you will easily get all the protein you need. The idea that vegetarians needing to carefully mix foods to obtain a “complete” protein has been largely debunked by researchers.

Switch your focus from meat to carbohydrate-centered meals. While carbs are often demonized, they’re actually vital to our health. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy, and, when consumed in their whole forms, they provide a steady source of stamina that can last for hours. Not all carbohydrates are created equal, though; refined sugars and juices provide a quick spike in energy and should be consumed sparingly. The key to any healthy diet is to stick with whole foods as much as possible. As an example, olive oil might be a healthier fat but it is even better to eat whole olives as they also contain fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals in addition to the oil.

Treasure tofu.

Say the word “tofu” and many people instantly cringe, but that’s because they’ve probably never had it prepared correctly. Tofu is one of the most versatile foods you can keep in your kitchen, and learning how to prepare it will improve your culinary repertoire, as well as give you a great source of protein, calcium, and iron. Often sold in block form, tofu can be pressed to remove excess water, resulting in a firm, meat-like texture that will easily absorb flavors and marinades. Use pressed tofu to make great sesame tofu or BBQ tofu and you’ll never look back!

Liz Black, from Bloomfield, is a plus-size style blogger, freelance writer, and vegan.

Do you or your kids follow a vegetarian diet? What do you find are the pros and cons?