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Being a vegetarian at your own pace



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You put your mind to turning vegetarian, but your body may not be able to take it, and your will may succumb to the allure of meat... But it’s alright, we understand, and here are some tips to make everything easier:



1 A new recipe every week


You can either buy a stack of new recipe books, or choose the cheaper and more efficient method—online search. Some recommended options are Goveg.com and Post Punk Kitchen. Thereafter, try a new recipe every week. If you feel that one of them is not bad, try it often. Very soon, you will have five to ten on your list. Regardless of whether you are vegetarian, the recipes you will try often will be these few. Once you have a fixed list of recipes, your vegetarian diet will become more stable and sustainable.


2 Pick your substitutes


You can still follow your old favourite recipes, but replace meat with other vegetables. Almost all meat types have a corresponding artificial vegetarian substitute, and some of them are absolutely awesome. So don’t fret about not getting your favourite meat dish after turning vegetarian. Replace meat types with soy protein, baked bran, gluten, or simply use pure artificial semi-vegetarian substitutes.


3 Quit red meat first


Turn vegetarian systematically and gradually, or your body may not be able to withstand it. Of course, some people can do it in one step. However, the effects of systematically and gradually turning vegetarian is better for your psychology. Try some new recipes, like taking one vegetarian dish in the first week, taking two vegetarian dishes in the second week, and so on. Meanwhile, quit red meat first (beef, mutton etc.), as they are less healthy.


4 Quit other meat types


After a few weeks without red meat, try to quit white meat as well. After quitting pork (in the previous week perhaps), try quitting chicken, and followed by seafood. Persevere for two weeks. (If you wish to go slower, you can try this for three weeks or a month.) In this gradual manner, you may not notice any significant difference. Most people lose appetite and desire for meat after merely one week.


5 Eat food from all six large food groups Regardless of whether a food is vegetarian or not, your everyday diet should consist of food from all six large food groups: whole grains and starch, eggs and protein, 3 to 5 servings of vegetables, 2 to 4 servings of fruits, low-fat dairy products, fats, nuts and seeds. 


6 Let your family and friends know As you will still continue to meet them over meals, it is best to let them know about your plan and the reason you are doing so (so that they can prepare vegetarian food for you, or you can bring some for them to try). Some people may find it hard to accept the change. Explain it as much as you can without getting involved in a conflict; maybe you can consider letting them try your foods. Do not push your vegetarian ideas to anyone (unless they are genuinely interested).

7Experience the joys of


Don’t consider vegetarianism as a torture or a chore. As a matter of fact, one big advantage of being vegetarian is that it stimulates you to try new and interesting foreign foods, and many new desserts that are vegetarian as well. Delicious vegetarian dishes exist all over the world, be it Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, Mexican, South American, etc. However, this does not include junk food, like deep fried foods, which is extremely harmful to health.

8Preparation is needed before you

leave home

Vegetarians ought to do their homework before leaving home; they need to think of the potential places they can get vegetarian food from. If there is none near their destinations, then they have to bring their own food. Of course, the most convenient method would be to put pre-prepared food inside the refrigerator for most days. Apart from this, there are also vegetarian microwavable packaged foods available in the supermarket. The problem is, they are more expensive, and perhaps less healthy. 




1 Frying with small fire Vitamin C and B1 both are destroyed by heat. So when frying vegetables, avoid using small fire to cook, and use big fire to fry instead. Moreover, a little vinegar will go a long way in preserving the vitamins. Some vegetables are more suitable for cold/raw consumption, like cucumber and tomato etc.


2 Storing vegetables Many people like to purchase groceries once a week, and slowly consume the vegetables stored at home, but vegetables tend to lose large amounts of nutrition with every additional day that it is stored and not consumed. For example, under room temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius, every additional day of storage for spinach means 84% of nutrition loss. Therefore, reduce the storage time for vegetables as much as possible. If storage is involved, places that are dry, windy and dark should be chosen.


3 Throwing away nutrition Some preparation habits affect the nutrition content of vegetables. For example, some may throw away the cotyledons (embryonic leaves) of sprouts, but in fact the Vitamin C content of the cotyledon is two to three times that of the sprout itself. 


4 Not immediately finishing your food Many people tend to leave the food in the pan to keep warm, or in a thermostatic container, and only consume it after some time. This causes large amounts of vital nutrition to be lost.


5 Not taking the soup but just the vegetables When frying vegetables, large amounts of nutrition has dissolved inside the gravy/base, and it is a waste to throw it away. Apart from this, if you cut vegetables before washing, nutrition is also lost easily.


6 Too much condiments or oil 


As vegetarian food is relatively blander, many people love to add excessive condiments or large amounts of oil, or cook using the pan-frying or frying method – pan-fried foods tend to be high in fats, and are detrimental to health.


7 Not eating based your body constitution


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), different vegetables have their own properties, some are “heaty” while others are “cooling”, so we ought to pick food according to our body types and health conditions. For example, people whose body types belong to the “cool” and weak group, are not suited to eat excessive cooling fruits and vegetables, e.g. celery, lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, watermelon, banana; those with a weak digestive system should reduce yam consumption; don’t take tomatoes if you have skin conditions; don’t take cabbage if you are suffering from coughs.


8 Obsession with processed food If you take a lot of highly processed food (white rice, white noodles, bread, desserts) and artificial vegetarian foods (Gluten, flour sausage, vegetarian belly, vegetarian meat). These foods are mostly high in calories, and will cause you to get fat on the long-term, and suffer from the problem of “three highs”, namely high blood pressure, high sugar, high cholesterol.


9 vital minerals like Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Copper etc; the oxalic acid and phytic acid will also affect the uptake rate of minerals. Taking in excessive amounts of fibre, or fruits rich in pectin, which absorbs water, like apple and banana, and not taking enough water, will cause difficulty in defecation.


10 Too little soy in your diet


Many vegetarians do not take enough protein, and therefore suffer from a deficiency in an essential amino acid – Lysine. This may be a result of under- consuming soy products, especially soya beans and related soy products. Vegetarians should take whole grains, roots and soy products, especially soybeans and soy products like tofu. The proteins in whole grains and soy products are different, and only when taken together, can wholesome good quality proteins be absorbed.


 Good principles for food combinations


3 It is best to take eggs, milk and ensure that there is sufficient intake of good protein and calcium, and those against eggs should take soy products, especially soya bean and related dishes (like hotplate tofu without the meat), those who don’t take dairy products can get calcium from dark green vegetables.


3 For everyday whole grain products, at least one meal should be unprocessed whole grains, like brown rice, multigrain bread, oatmeal etc.


3 You may find yourself getting hungry more easily.
To make it more filling, it is recommended that you consume coarse whole grains, beans, nuts, adequate fibre and suitable amounts of fats, which will bring more fulfillment.


3 Apart from vegetables, you have to take fungi and algae. It is especially rare to obtain Vitamin B12 for those who do not take eggs and dairy products, thus it is recommended that seaweed, rich in Vitamin B12, is taken daily to compensate for it.


3 Research has shown that amaranth, mountain celery, gynura and sugar snap peas are highest in dietary fibre, and can be a good source of Iron for vegetarians.


3 Vitamin C can increase the rate of uptake for Iron, so it is recommended that fruits should be consumed within half an hour before or after meal, so as to allow Vitamin C in the fruits to enter the body with the food, and promote the absorption of Iron. 

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