How to Start Being a Vegetarian

When you become vegetarian, you need to make sure that your protein and macronutrient intake is adequate. Otherwise, you could experience deficits that harm your health. 
How to Start Being a Vegetarian

Last update: 24 March, 2021

When it comes to being a vegetarian, you have to be clear about a number of basic facts to minimize nutritional risks. Otherwise, you can experience health-compromising deficits. Up next, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about it.

Vegan diets totally restrict the consumption of meat and animal products. However, vegetarians allow the intake of eggs and dairy products, thus reducing the risk of not meeting their protein needs.

Phasing out meat to start being a vegetarian

If you want to change your diet and move towards a vegetarian diet, you’ll have to restrict the consumption of meat and fish. Nonetheless, it isn’t something that you should do from one day to the next, as it can generate anxiety or emotional conflicts. 

The best thing to do is to reduce the presence of these kinds of foods in your diet progressively. Keep in mind that protein can help maintain good muscle health, according to a study published in the journal, Nutrients.

For this reason, if you eat fewer meat products, you should increase the presence of eggs and dairy in your diet. Both contain proteins of high biological value, which ensure the supply of all essential amino acids.

Protein intake is essential.

Be mindful of micronutrients

Another point to pay special attention to when becoming a vegetarian is the contribution of micronutrients. Some minerals, such as iron, are in a state of greater bioavailability in foods of animal origin. Eliminating these products from the diet can lead to deficiencies that increase the risk of developing complex diseases, such as anemia.

To avoid such a situation, it’s necessary to increase the contribution of green leafy vegetables in your daily diet. These have vegetable iron and a significant amount of vitamin C; a nutrient capable of increasing the absorption of the mineral, according to a study published in Food & Function.

The contribution of vitamin D is also critical. This nutrient can be synthesized endogenously through exposure to sunlight. It’s also found in some foods, such as oily fish, enriched dairy products, and eggs.

However, eliminating fish from the diet can increase the risk of having inadequate serum levels of the vitamin. This situation can condition the appearance of osteoporosis in the medium term; a pathology capable of limiting the functional capacity of people.

With that in mind, it’s important to take preventive action. The use of supplements can be decisive in this matter, although it’s always advisable to consult a specialist first.

Introduce more vegetable variety

If you’re going to become a vegetarian, you’ll have to increase the spectrum of fruits and vegetables consumed through the diet. This is the only way you’ll get an efficient supply of micronutrients, which will help ensure good health.

It's important to eat a variety of vegetables.

Introduce different colored vegetables into daily routines, as well as a higher percentage of exotic fruits. Additionally, vary your cooking methods to avoid large losses of water-soluble nutrients.

Becoming a vegetarian isn’t always easy

Restrictive diets are not for everyone. For many, they generate anxiety or problems at a psychological level, so their adherence is limited. This is why we recommend that you introduce yourself progressively if you’ve decided to take this step.

Keep in mind that, in any diet, it’s necessary to guarantee an adequate supply of energy and micronutrients. Otherwise, it may adversely affect your body, causing it to not perform its physiological functions normally, which could generate a pathology in the long run. Hence, if you’re wondering whether or not your nutrient intake is sufficient, go to a nutrition professional.

Finally, remember that there are supplements and dietary additives to prevent nutritional deficits from impacting your health negatively. Even so, it’s advisable for an expert to supervise their consumption to minimize risks and overdoses that may affect the normal functioning of the body.

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  • Landi F, Calvani R, Tosato M, Martone AM, Ortolani E, Savera G, D’Angelo E, Sisto A, Marzetti E. Protein Intake and Muscle Health in Old Age: From Biological Plausibility to Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2016
  • He H , Qiao Y , Zhang Z , Wu Z , Liu D , Liao Z , Yin D , He M . Dual action of vitamin C in iron supplement therapeutics for iron deficiency anemia: prevention of liver damage induced by iron overload. Food Funct. 2018 Oct 17;9(10):5390-5401.