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According to a 2008 study conducted on behalf of the magazine Vegetarian Times, roughly 3.2% (7.3 million people) of US adults follow a vegetarian-based diet. In addition, 10% of US adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. While there is no way of telling if those numbers are growing, people choose to become vegetarian for, including improving their overall health, environmental and food safety concerns, weight loss and maintenance, and animal welfare.
I am considering going vegetarian, so I researched some resources about how to make the transition. For you veteran vegetarians out there, please add to this list some of your favorite online resources, in the comments section below.
For a well designed and informative introduction to vegetarianism, download a PDF copy of The Vegetarian Starter Kit. This thirteen page guide includes information about basic vegetarian foods, the “protein myth”, the four vegetarian food groups, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, tips for making the switch, and vegetarian diets for children and pregnant women.
A handy little section in the guide called “the veganizer” provides suggestions for replacing your existing meals with low-fat vegan meals, e.g. if you regularly eat a doughnut in the morning for breakfast, you might try cinnamon raisin toast with jam as a vegetarian substitute.
To keep yourself well informed about the vegetarian lifestyle, you’ll want to subscribe to the Vegetarian Society newsletter. The Society defines a vegetarian as “someone living on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with or without the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter“.
The Vegetarian Society includes news and related events, as well as links to associated sites for National Vegetarian Week, and the Young Veggies.
To hear the experiences and advice of one person who has made the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle, check out Journal in Raw, which features over forty videos geared toward people who were making the transition to a raw food diet.
Another related and useful YouTube series is the five-part, Vegetarian Shopping Hints from Vegan Gal.
No doubt the biggest concern to making a transition to a vegetarian diet is what is there to eat? While there are several cookbooks on the subject, VegWeb seems to be a good introduction to over 15,000 recipes that you can research by category, such as appetizers, beverages, breads, casseroles, slow cooker recipes, desserts, fruits and vegetables.
VegWeb is well designed with a user forum, coupons, and links to other sources.
VegDining addresses another challenge for going vegetarian, i.e. where to eat out? This site is a resource bank of restaurants and other eateries around the world that provide vegetarian meals. You can easily search your city for vegetarian restaurants, and you get the opportunity to write a review of the places you have eaten at.
Savvy Vegetarian [Broken URL Removed]
The Savvy Vegetarian website includes a large assortment of recipes, shopping and cooking tips, and articles about going vegetarian, health, lifestyle, nutrition, and vegetarian children.
Vegan Recipe Finder [No Longer Available]
There doesn’t appear to be a good free vegetarian recipe app for the iPhone, but Vegan Recipe Finder is a very affordable option for $2.99. The app includes 13,000 vegan recipes (with photos) and a handy grocery list maker. Recipes can be sorted alphabetically by rating or by number of views.
Whatever your reasons are for going vegetarian, these websites show that making the transition may not be as difficult as you think.
If you already live on a vegetarian diet, let us know how you got started, and what challenges you face if any in the comments below. What vegetarian resources and websites do you use?