1. Start with small steps. Add more grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits to your diet, and start eliminating meat from one or two meals a week or leave meat out of one meal every day.
2. Adapt family-favorite recipes with meat-free products such as soy crumbles or veggie sausage.
3. Explore global cuisines, particularly those in which vegetarian dishes are standard fare such as African, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, and Thai.
4. Read labels carefully to search for "hidden" animal-derived ingredients, like rennet, gelatin, or gum base.
5. Check out vegetarian cookbooks from the library and experiment with different types of meatless dishes. Several sources for reliable and delicious vegetarian fare are Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and Anna Thomas's The New Vegetarian Epicure.
6. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to see if you need to take a vitamin-mineral supplement.
Meat-Free for Life:
Visit The Vegetarian Resource Group to learn more about nutrition needs for different life stages:
6 First Steps to Going Meatless
A beginner's guide to adopting a vegetarian eating style.
By Anne Cain, M.S., R.D., Senior Food Editor, MyRecipes.com
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