Thinking of Going Vegetarian? 6 Ways to Get There

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021

Veg-curious, but not sure if you’re ready to totally swear off meat? Registered dietitian Rachel Meltzer Warren offers six simple options based on your personality in her new book, "The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian.”

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Meatless Mondays

While the concept of Meatless Mondays has been getting a lot of attention in the last few years, the advertising campaign has actually been around since World War I, when the government used it to encourage people to eat less meat to save money and conserve resources for soldiers. The idea is easy: Start each week with one meat-free day. According to the people who run Meatless Monday, giving up meat even just once a week can have many of the same benefits to your health and environment as giving up meat altogether can.


The Red Head

Giving up red meat appeals to many because it’s a heck of a lot easier than giving up meat completely. While it sometimes may be hard to find a vegetarian option on a menu or on a buffet table at a party, you can almost always find something that has chicken, turkey, or fish in it. Rejecting red meat can also be a pretty healthy move, since it tends to be high in bad-for-your-heart saturated fat. But since you’re still eating some meat, you’re likely getting plenty of protein and nutrients that some vegetarians may have trouble getting enough of. Learn the health benefits you can look forward to when you stop eating red meat.


The Flexitarian

You know you want to eat less meat, but you don’t want to be tied down by specific limitations about days of the week or types of food you eat. This is basically a vegetarian who eats meat occasionally. How often is occasionally? Well, there’s no official limit. Some eat meat once or twice a week. Here’s everything you need to know about the flexitarian diet.


The Vegxception

You want to go vegetarian, but there’s one or two meat-containing foods you can’t imagine giving up. Sure, some people may look at you funny if you say you’re a vegetarian and then eat a bowl of Mom’s chicken noodle soup at holiday meals. But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and eat meat year round. The way in which you eat is something that is always evolving. Giving up meat with one vegxception may help you transition to an eventual meat-free diet, if that’s your goal. Here’s some vegetarian and vegan meal prep advice to help you plan ahead.

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The Ethical Carnivore

Eating meat doesn’t bother you, but you want the animals you consume to have lived healthy lives or you want to eat in a way that’s good for the environment. What it means to be an ethical carnivore is a personal choice, but there are a number of criteria that people who follow such guidelines tend to look for. These include eating meat or animal products that are labeled organic/certified organic, free-range/free roaming, cage-free, grass-fed, no hormones administered, no antibiotics added, certified humane, certified naturally grown, or animal welfare approved. Just skip these organic foods nutritionists say are a waste of money.

The Cold Tofurkey

It hit you like a ton of bricks that you just don’t want to eat meat anymore. Quite a few vegetarians I interviewed had an “aha” moment that made them never, ever want to eat meat again. For example, watching a movie like Food, Inc. or Forks Over Knives.

So You Want to Be (More) Vegetarian?

Get more advice about how to eat less meat—the healthy way—in The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian. (The book is intended for teens and young adults, but has great advice for families too.) Learn more and buy the book here.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest