veggies I‘m not yet a vegetarian, but I’m getting there. I scoured the internet for inspiration and guidance on making the transition, and came up with these eight tips for new and aspiring vegetarians (those that eat no animal flesh including poultry and fish) and vegans (those that also eat no animal products, dairy products, milk, eggs or cheese).

  1. Know why you’re doing it — Your motivation: reducing animal cruelty, aesthetics, reducing ecological impact, health, and/or spiritual reasons, will determine how, how far, and how fast you go.
  2. Take it in stages — Consider eliminating red meat first, then all meat, then fish, then dairy products, and at each stage use commercial substitutes that simulate the flavour you’re giving up. 
  3. Start with the meals you eat at restaurants — It’s much easier than changing your (and your family’s) cooking habits, and will help you find vegetarian and vegan foods and menus you especially like. Even fast food places have vegetarian options: Burger King’s veggie burger is so good even PETA is praises them.
  4. Meeting nutritional needs is no big deal — The nutrients you need to focus on are calcium, iron, vitamin B-12, and amino acids. A good mix of vegetables, juices, cereals/grains/breads, rice, pasta, nuts, soy and other beans and legumes will cover these nutritional needs easily.
  5. If you like ethnic foods, you’re laughing — Every non-Western cuisine has vegetarian specialties.
  6. The hardest part is handling social situations — Don’t be defensive or doctrinaire. Allow yourself an occasional lapse if the situation requires it to avoid discomfort, as long as it’s something you like to eat . It’s not like giving up smoking or alcohol; you can get back on the vegetarian/vegan wagon easily.
  7. The next hardest part is baking — Egg substitutes exist, and as a backup you can always use a mixture of 4 parts water, 4 parts flour, 3 parts vegetable oil and 1 part baking powder as an egg substitute. But it’s not easy or inexpensive to change baking-with-eggs habits, and if you’re a vegan you may find many commercial bakery products are offside.
  8. If you’re married to a meat-eater — Find compromises that don’t require separate meals — Vegetarian and vegan foods you both like, and menus that allow you to add (or not) meats and dairy products separately.

Since I started on my modest and gradual journey six months ago, I’ve reduced my meat consumption by about 75%, my dairy by about 50% (cheese is the toughest thing for me to give up), and lost 15 pounds in the process without even trying. My wife’s coming around slowly, thanks to our shared love of spicy foods, salads, wines, nuts, and raw fruits and vegetables.

Any other advice, anyone?

This entry was posted in Our Culture / Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marie Foster says:

    Based on lots of talk with other friends the people who have the most problems sticking with it are those who like lots of variety in their meals. For someone like me who is happy to eat beans and rice twice a day it is not as much of a problem. My goal has always been to just keep the hunger pangs away.But being an ovo lacto, I do get the cheese and eggs so it is easier than being a vegan.

  2. kara says:

    Switch to Soya Milk. ASAPThe brand “Silk – vanilla” is great tasting.If you have any requests for cookbooks or tofu recipes – i have plenty. ( I have been a vegetarian for over 12 years now )

  3. kara says:

    And Hey WTG Dave! Not an easy transition in a meat eating society.

  4. Rob Paterson says:

    My daughter is all but a veggie – she lives in southeast asia and cooks in a variety of asian styles – a great way to go that even her father a confirmed red meater can accept.Why are you doing this though? I have ton of research that tells me that meat and brain development go hand in hand and that we are most definitively omnivores. If you are blood type O you are a highly adapted to red meat and to dairy – the European blood type.

  5. Marie Foster says:

    Well… the cow with the mad disease looks like it might have come from the US. All you have to do is look at the meat industry to decide that what we get in the store is no longer what your great great great … granddaddy ate to swell up his brain cells.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Rob, since you asked, although I’m a Type O, I’ve never been that much of a meat-eater, and even thinking about the treatment of animals in today’s factory farms makes me ill, so that’s my major motivation. And Einstein, da Vinci, Newton and Schweitzer were all vegetarians and their brain development was OK.To vegetarian/vegan readers and cheerleaders, my hat goes off to you.

  7. Dave,Do watch your nutritional needs, particularly if you go vegan. Calcium and iron deficiencies are relatively easy to diagnose should they occur, but B-vitamin deficiencies are quite difficult. Long-term deficiencies of B-vitamins can lead to serious neurological problems — in the most severe cases even death. As Rob says, we are omnivores by nature, and a good multi-vit and B-complex is worthwhile insurance for folks who choose to live their lives without meat or animal products.

  8. Rob Paterson says:

    DaveWhere I am absoloutly behind you is how we treat animals. I had a terrible experience a year ago. Robin and I were walking on the old rail traill outside of Charlottetown with the dogs. Were heard a drumming sound – like a huge machine out of kilter. As we rounded the bend we saw that we had come accross the abbatoir and the noise that we heard was of the animals paniking in the truck as they were being pushed into the kill zone. I am not against killing animals for my food but I am against keeping them like concentratioin camp victims. My response is to shift away from factory food. We are increasingly finding sources of meat and dairy that raise their animals in a traditional way and kill personally. We also are doing our best to reduce our dependence on major retailers by buying direct from farmers.I have not done enough but I am on my way.

  9. mrG says:

    I wouldn’t rest on the animal ethics clause too much until I’d spent some time picking rodent parts out of a tiller, and let’s be sure to ask the deer, rabbits, porcupines, groundhogs, hey even ask the lions and elephants how they feel about man’s mono-cultural agriculture. If you’re doing this for ethics, I recommend you switch to eating people, preferably Republicans.Ditto in eating for brains or longevity. There’s no credible evidence. Death’s finger is freelance; time and chance happeneth to everyone.That said, no list of Vegan guidelines is complete without reference to George Bernard Shaw’s cookbook. Throughout most of my adult life, meat and fish have been a luxury measured and rationed, so it’s good to have a repetoire of interesting meatless foods that don’t taste like curry mush.Personally, when I’m hungry, I am just too damn thankful to have something to eat than to worry about what it is or where it came from. In the jungle states along the northern shores of South America, the local dialect has only one word for ‘meat’ … for very good reason. Could be muskrat, it could be rat, you just say Grace and eat it. Out in Alberta, not much else grows other than some kind of bovine, and we put an end to the Buffalo …Ethical farming practice, even the ill-defined ‘organic’ practice are gaining ground because they work, they produce superior product and have long-term sustainability. Properly managed, they areprofitable but only when we consumers will take the chance on early adopters and reinforce their behaviour by buying their product, even at higher prices. When we have the luxury, we vote with our dollars, and it’s working: I’ll bet my grandkids won’t even have to ask “Is this chicken organic?” it just will be. We don’t buy veal or pate and our groceries tend to local economy beef cattle (farms run by our friends and neighbours here in Bruce County supply 80% of Ontario’s beef)And I’ve worked in the slaughterhouse; given the choice, and it’s only my choice, I think I’d rather die by the unexpected, certain and sudden bolt to the brain like a cow than be lured, snared, hacked and hung out to dry like a mole or a groundhog) — the cow also got grade-A feed (MadCow scares banned bone/brain feed 5 years ago) and free medical care; no one in the slaughterhouse was more serious and self-critical of their jobs than the veterinary and the executioner.what’s given to me, I accept graciously because I know it’s all just stardust; we all end up in that same place, and in the great grand eco-scheme of things, does it really matter how we got there?Personally, I think we should go back to Hunter-Gatherer — H-G tribes lived a good life in a sustainable harmony with their environment, and worked only 3-4 hours per day. There’s evidence too that H-G’s constant awareness/inventive lifestyle was more conducive to intelligence than the mind numbingly repetitive tasks required by agriculture prompting large corporate baron land-processors to bias our education systems to produce not Einsteins but unthinking, obedient pools of suitable cheap labour. But that’s a whole new issue ;)

  10. Rob Paterson says:

    I am with you on that one Mr GDave’s post and this conversation got me thinking a bit more and if you care here is a link to my response

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Gary/Rob: I agree that the root problem is ‘mono-culture agriculture’ (including domesticating animals for food). Gary, your last paragraph on H-G cultures is precisely correct, and brilliantly ties together several of the threads I’ve been blogging about lately. And Rob, your post is an excellent articulation of how we got to where we are, and what has to change to fix it.Alas, I think it will take a long time, perhaps more than we have, to get enough people to this level of awareness and clarity to start doing things to change the culture, in sufficient volume to reach the Tipping Point. But you have to start somewhere. I think the factory farm is a bigger problem than the slaughterhouse, because it disconnects the farmer from the farm animal and treats animals as nothing more than objects to be harvested as cheaply as possible. The debeaking and starving of chickens, the milk-feeding of veal, and the measuring of efficiency by the weight of meat to size of cage ratio, all contribute much more to suffering than the brief if miserable butchery process. The stats on factory farms indicate that in North America tiny life-long cages for farm animals have come in a few short years from a small minority to the overwhelming majority of farm animals’ lives. It’s inhumane in the extreme, and it has to change.

  12. mrG says:

    You’ll be happy to know that of the several dozen farmers I know personally, not one of them (even the corporate farmer) stoops to the profit mongering methods you cite. For most of them, the extent of the depersonalization is the milking machine which they connect to the cows calling them by name.btw, found this, perhaps useful, perhaps not, but it’s a blog: http://www.vegblog.orgfwiw, I don’t think even monoculture is the root of the problem. During the dustbowl, according to several sources who were there, the cause was not the drought, but the banks who forced farmers to abandong soil-holding scrub-grass because it was “unprofitable” — to meet the payments for the equipment they didn’t need (but everyone was gadget crazy back in 1928 … sound familiar?) when the crops failed the first round, the banks threatened foreclosure unless the farmers let the bankers decide on the “high profit margin” crops and methods, and these methods and crops were adopted against much protest that fell on deaf ears.

  13. Rayne says:

    Dave, you might want to read Dr. Ornish and about his Ornish diet. It’s not vegan, per se, as much as it is a prescription for improved health. It eliminates most (if not all) meat and reduces substantially processed flour and sugar. (Personally, I think the worst substances in western diets are trans-fatty acids combined with processed flour and sugar; I’ll bet they are the biggest contributors to the epidemic of weight gain and diabetes in the U.S. over the last ten years.) Ornish does give good advice to folks on the Ornish diet when they run into problems (like craving sweets or fats).We’ve adopted healthier eating in this household due to my spouse’s tendency towards high cholesterol and diabetes. In doing so, we’ve added more soy to our diet, substantially increased whole grains and fresh produce, eliminated trans-fats, increased olive oil use and cut out a lot of processed flour-sugar. We’re not vegan yet, but we’re getting closer — my spouse’s life depends on it. It’s very easy to do if it’s done incrementally; veggie burgers and whole oat cereal, soy milk are all staples now in this house.The biggest single thing that folks who want to move towards a healthier diet (vegan or not) should do: READ THE LABELS ON EVERYTHING!!! Know what it is that you’re putting in your body, by investing at least as much time on checking the food you eat as you do in cooking and eating it. The average consumer I see shopping every week grabs a product and sticks it in their cart, no questions asked, not a glance at the label. Just because one chooses vegan products doesn’t mean they shouldn’t read the labels, either. Does that can of beans have beef extracts in it, along with tooooo much sodium or sugar? What chemicals are in that tofu, how much carbohydrate in that soy milk? READ THE LABELS!!!

  14. Bryan says:

    …how could you possibly give up the taste of steak.. nice blog btw, i have no idea how i got here but i really liked all the posts i’ve read so far, especially the taste one. i’ll go read more of them.

  15. T. says:

    When I turned to a vegetarian I had a hard time finding recipes… so I’ve recently started my own blog, posting new recipes from different sources on an almost daily basis… I hope to build a huge resouce for all vegetarians and vegans.

  16. Tim says:

    I’ve read, and heard, that being a vegetarian would be healthier than being a vegan. Eating vegan would be too extreme and could do more harm than good.

Comments are closed.