Are you thinking about switching to a plant-based lifestyle but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a masterpost of a lot of but probably not all the things someone transitioning to a meatless life should know!
Okay, hold on. What is a vegetarian?
By definition, a vegetarian is “a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.” There are many types of vegetarians, and it’s up to you to decide what works for you!
Types of vegetarians? This is getting complicated…
Not really! Think of vegetarianism like a spectrum with different types of vegetarians being different intensities on the spectrum, if you will. Here are some of the types, from one end of the spectrum to the other:
Flexitarian. A flexitarian is just what it sounds like: a flexible vegetarian (and no, I don’t mean yoga). Flexitarians follow a somewhat plant-based diet, while occasionally consuming meat products. Many people don’t consider flexitarians to be true vegetarians.
Pescetarian. Those who avoid beef, poultry and pork, but still consume fish, are considered pescetarians. For diehard seafood fans, pescetarianism can be a great stepping stone into a full vegetarian lifestyle.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian. These types of vegetarians are generally what you think of when you think of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo vegetarians abstain from eating animal flesh of any kind, but do consume animal byproducts (like milk and eggs). Variations of lacto-ovo vegetarians include lacto-vegetarians (milk, but not eggs) and ovo-vegetarians (eggs, but not milk).
Vegan. Vegans do not consume any animal flesh or byproducts. They avoid anything derived from an animal, and this means avoiding non-food byproducts (like leather and silk), too.
Okay, cool. So why do I want to do this?
People go veg for any number of reasons—for their health, for the environment, for the animals—and none of these reasons is more valid than the other! Here are some articles to read and things to consider when making your decision:
Alright, alright. So what should be on my new, meatless grocery list?
You’re obviously going to want lots of staples: fresh and frozen fruits and veggies (whatever types you like), milk (dairy or non-dairy), bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, canned soups, nuts, seeds, beans—those sorts of things. Check out The Ultimatest Vegetarian Grocery List! for an good idea of what should be in your basket (and bonus: it’s printable).
Here’s a (by no means comprehensive) list of some veg-friendly brands and products to watch out for next time you’re in the supermarket:
Earth Balance. Vegan butter, mayo, mac-n-cheese, and more! You want it, they’ve got it.
Amy’s Kitchen. Primarily dealing in frozen foods (but with plenty of freezer-free goodies, too), Amy’s Kitchen has a little bit of everything. Want vegetarian Thai curry? They’ve got it. What about veggie pot pie? That too. Mexican Casserole? Black bean soup? Tofu scramble? All that, and more.
Morningstar Farms. They say it best: “From veggie burgers to meatless breakfast sausage, we have over 30 products that will help you feel good and do the world some good.”
Boca Burgers. Veggie burgers of all sorts (bruschetta tomato basil parmesan! chile relleno! grilled vegetable!), chicken patties and nuggets, beefless crumbles and more—you want it, they’ve got it, and it’s pretty darn good. (Go on, try an original vegan veggie burger and tell me you miss beef. I’ll wait.)
Gardein. Meatless everything! Fish, turkey, sandwich pockets, and more.
If you’re considering making the switch, congrats! The veg life can be incredibly rewarding, delicious, beneficial, and eye-opening! You might find yourself trying foods you never would have thought of before, learning new recipes, and learning more about the planet we live on. No matter why you’ve decided to go veg, I’m proud of you! If you fall off the wagon (and plenty of people do), don’t feel bad! Pick yourself up and take it one day at a time! You can do it! Good luck, veggie babes! 🌱💕
ARTHUR: Well, goodbye then. I feel someone should, erm, say a few words. Hamilton R. Lehman. Born 1943 in… America, probably. Died 2008 in the sky… definitely. Non-vegetarian option. I didn’t know you for very long, Mr. Lehman, but I’ll always remember you as a shouty man. You loved to shout. Shout and smoke. Those were your twin passions. And so, in a way, I suppose you died doing what you loved: shouting and smoking and covered in foam. I don’t know if you liked that. You probably didn’t. Still. Goodbye. Rest in peace. Thank you for flying MJN Air!
Because there is a close connection between veganism and vegetarianism, many people - including the public, media, health care professionals, and even practitioners themselves - often unwittingly twist the meaning of these terms. The word “vegetarian” was coined in 1847 by the founders of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain. (Prior to that time, people who abstained from eating meat were called “Pythagoreans.”) The definition of “vegetarian” has not changed. It has always meant and continues to mean “a person who does not eat meat, fish, or fowl, and who may or may not eat dairy products or eggs.”
The word “vegetarian” has always dealt solely with what a person eats; it has never delved into the reasoning behind a person’s decision to practice a meat-free diet and therefore does not address motivation. Consequently, vegetarians embrace a wide range of perspectives and rationales. There are vegetarians who believe a plant-based diet is the most healthful, or that it will help them lose weight, or that it is kinder to the environment. For others it is a political statement or an economic solution. Still others are motivated by their compassion for animals. There are a number of groups and individuals for whom vegetarianism is part of their religious convictions or spiritual practices. Some view their vegetarianism as temporary or a matter of circumstance; others see it as a lifetime commitment.
Unlike vegetarianism, veganism has always had a specific, unifying philosophy associated with it, and, in addition, has always dealt with much more than what one eats. The term “vegan” (pronounced VEE-gn) was coined by Donald Watson in 1944, and was at once adopted by the group who founded The Vegan Society in England later that year. The Vegan Society was the first organized secular group to promote a compassionate lifestyle. Their definition of “veganism,” which is accepted as the decisive standard worldwide, is as follows:
Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.