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Going Vegetarian: All at Once or Gradually?

Some people make the transition to a vegetarian diet all at once. But that’s not for everybody; some people need more time to make the switch.

If you don’t want to go vegetarian all at once, we suggest the following three-step plan:

1. For the first two weeks, be vegetarian three days a week. Make simple substitutions for animal products in your favorite meals. Instead of meat in tacos, substitute refried beans, peppers, and onions. Instead of sausage in your spaghetti sauce, try veggie sausage or sautéed mushrooms.

2. For the next two weeks, try being vegetarian five days a week. Sample some new vegetarian recipes and products—your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised at the new variety.

3. You’ve been nearly vegetarian for almost a month—congratulations! Round out the month with a couple more vegetarian days, and give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re like most people, you’ll find that you feel lighter and more alert on your vegetarian days, and soon you’ll be eating all vegetarian, all the time.

If you want to go vegetarian all at once but need a little encouragement, take our “Pledge to be Vegan for 30 Days.”

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  • PETA says:

    @aishja Thanks for your comment! Being vegan means eating nothing that comes from an animal (including eggs, milk and cheese). For tips on how to go vegan, please check out this feature: http://features.peta.org/how-to-go-vegan/

  • Rachel says:

    Everyone for more information about going vegetarian copy and paste this web address into your browser http://www.happycow.net/becoming_vegetarian.html . It is a great resource for information about how unhealthy meat is, what you can substitute it with, and other helpful tips.

  • aishja says:

    I am thinking about becoming a vegan. But could someone tell me the difference between that and a vegetarian. Thanks in advance

  • Marcos says:

    I’m in the process of going vegetarian right now. I started a couple of days ago. I really want to go vegan but I think it’ll be tough if I do it all at once so I’ll start with vegetarian. I plan on going vegetarian all at once though. It’s kind of scary because of the rumors and what my friends and family are telling me but I really want to make the commitment. I have no idea where to start and I haven’t eaten much since I decided to start but I’ll stay true to my commitment and research the new life style I’m choosing.

  • Chris says:

    I know the comment’s old, but to address Brittany’s concern that others may have regarding getting dizzy after a week off meat: meat, and the bacteria, toxins, and cholesterol it introduces to our system can cause a sort of withdrawl when switching to a vegetarian diet. This is because the body is confused and so the animal proteins and fats that it is used to converting have been switched to something different. Our bodies synthesize plant and animal proteins very differently, and a plant-based diet is now considered healthiest for humans (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid/).

    There is an adjustment period, but it’s worth it. It truly is like withdrawing from a drug, the body still craves it even though it wreaks havoc on it for the simple fact that it’s used to having the drug. Our bodies are used to having meat at this point in time, but from an evolutionary perspective the consumption of meat by humans on a regular basis is very recent and so our bodies are perfectly suited biologically to convert to a plant-based diet, we just go into a bit of shock for a while as our bodies cleanse themselves and adjust.

  • Rgdean says:

    I was vegetarian from the time I was a kid to 25 or so. Felt great and was always on the move. Started eating meat when I started dating my hubby. I didn’t want him to know I was picky. Now 20 years later I fell like crap and find myself sitting and watching tv too much, and I am 30 pounds over weight. This is not me. I also feel like I have tuned my back on my conviction that animals have the right to live and be happy also. Now how to get back to me. I tried giving up meat all at once – failed. So no I gave up one at a time. Off of pork, then beef, next bird. Not sure if I’ll give up fish yet. That will be last step. By jan 1 I hope to have a kill free diet and on my way back to being me. Please think good thoughts for me to get back on track

  • Joanne Speakman says:

    As a lifetime ” foodie” and person who writes recipes and cooks for a living, as well as a very active person who requires health eating to sustain an active lifestyle, two things: one, translating your favorite recipe into a vegetarian version is like translating written words into another language…..some things will translate well, others do not. Secondly, for some of us with a very phycially active lifestyle, eating vegetarian exclusively does not make us ” feel better”. On some of my most demanding workout days I include animal foods; the rest of the time I do not. Many of us physically active people are very health conscious and love the vegetarian options, we just don’t want it to have to do so exclusively.

  • Doshua says:

    I went vegan all at once and I do not regret it at all. I feel so much better.

  • Mindy says:

    I am excited to go back to not eating meat. I was a vegetarian from the time I was 9 until I was 21 when I got pregnany with my son. I craved steak and eggs alot. I have been sick and extremely tired for several years and rememebered how great I felt when I didn’t eat animal prodcits. My son won’t eat meat at all so I think I will follow my 5 year old’s footstep. Thanks for all of the resources!

  • Brittany says:

    I am currently going vegetarian and was wondering, should I be more conscious to get protein in my diet? I started drinking a glass of milk a day (working toward being a vegetarian for now, maybe vegan one day) and some granola or protein bars, but is this necessary? After about a week off of meat I was at the gym and out of nowhere felt very dizzy and my head started pounding and I have no idea what it was from or if it could have any relation to not getting enough protein in my diet. Thanks in advance for any feedback!

  • heathur0x says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years. I never liked meat my whole life so I figured it was appropriate to do. My parents aren’t accepting of it, and I only have a couple friends that are also vegetarians. My boyfriend eats meat everyday and it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just not my thing.

  • Virginia says:

    I’ve decided I’m going to go vegetarian, but I can’t go vegan (I couldn’t cut out dairy even though I’m horribly disgusted by the dairy industry… I eat too much cheese and it’s my favorite food.) I’m also still debating if I want to do it gradually or all at once. Today is my second day of not eating meat, and I’ve been planning to not eat meat for a week and decide then if I’m going to stop eating meat permenately or if I’m going to wean myself off meat by eating meat maybe once every few days or something and gradually stop. I’m surprised on how fast my mentality has changed though. I used to be a huge meat-eater that thought I could never give up meat but here I am, transitioning into a vegetarian and pretty much disgusted with the notion of eating dead animals.
    PETA’s been a huge help for me in my transition, thank you!

  • Murray Gorsalitz says:

    you should check out Prevent and reverse heart disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. although it is about heart disease he has 150 vegan recipies in it. Also check out engine2diet.com his son Rip Esselstyn has great recipies and was a athlete. Happy and Healthy eating

  • Jules says:

    I am 14 and as soon as i can go to the doctors i am going to a vegetarian diet. I dont know what to expect really because it will be hard but i think i need people to help me through my first couple days since it will still be a HUGE change in my diet.

  • Chichi says:

    Hi Nikcraw4, I was an athlete in highschool as well, so I know how important nutrition is with sports. I think you can still do it, but you really have to be careful that you’re getting enough nutrients and protein daily. I know what’s it’s like to pass out on the field because you’re not eating enough, its happened to me AND my brother. its not pretty. if your not going to eat meat, make sure your eating enough protein, and that you have a snack before practice, so you have enough energy, because our metabolism burns vegetables and fruits quickly. And you don’t need to prove to anyone what you can or cannot do; your capacity to success is not dependent on other’s people’s belief in you. your health is the first priority.

  • Nikcraw4 says:

    I’m 15 and I’ve decided not to eat meat….I’m starting tomorrow and I’m scared. Everyone I’ve talked to doesn’t think I can do it. Not only do I want to prove them wrong, but I just don’t like to eat meat, period. I’m an athlete in high school and I’ve been up all night reading website after website, they say I’m going to lose weight and it’s not healthy to be an athlete and a vegetarian? I need some answers, and some supporters on my choice. Any comments?

  • gmarie0914 says:

    I am about to start trying to become a vegan .. as far as milk, I alrady drink soy milk or almond milk (because I already know that our body can’t digest regular milk properly..we are the only species that drinks milk after infancy!?) I’m just having trouble finding reciepes that I would like to eat.. I have tried tofu in the past and didn’t really like it that much.. I am a little nervous about trying this and failing but it’s something I’ve been preparing myself for. I already eat a lot of vegatables and fruits, it’s just finding a alternative for meat…? any suggestions or advice?

  • Mari1 says:

    i have been trying to be a vegetarian for some time now and it seems like every time i try i get tempted and eat meat but now i been doing pretty good but i love milk and i don’t know what to drink to replace it

  • Unicorn says:

    I reaaaally wanna be vegan, jesus, I’m trying starting to eat vegetables, fruits, and I’m trying now to replace meat for veggie ”meat”…I hope my parents support me :T

    But since I came to NYC I’m kinda depressed cause when I go to stores like Century 21 with my mum, I see fur coats for sale and the only thing I was hoping for are people destroying those stuff…PLEASE, DO IT, THIS IS DRIVING ME CRAZY AND MY MOM LOVES THAT STORE (but she doesn’t wear fur)

  • G says:

    is there anything I’m going to miss if I stop eating beef? I mean, are there any vitamins or certain amino acids I need to be mindful of? Sorry to be so ignorant but I’m at the point where I can’t tolerate eating dead animals. how easy is it to mix beans and whatever to get all the nutrients, vitamins, amino acids I need? thanks in advance

  • sapphire says:

    i really want to make the transition…but my parents arent with me on this. its frustrating. i dont know ive thought about vegetarianism and stuff maybe once i can start affording my own food choices…?

  • Katie says:

    the writers of the book, skinny bitch, say that the brand “Follow Your Heart” has the best vegan cheese. Personally, i haven’t tried it yet, but i thought i’d mention it :)

  • Nawdy says:

    Day 24 of being a vegetarian and I feel sooo relieved not to be part of the suffering of animals anymore. My soul just could not handle it anymore.

    *exhale*

    Thank you for the recipes and all the wonderful work you do PETA

  • AJ Saavedra says:

    I transitioned into becoming a vegetarian over the summer. I’m still working my way through it, since many establishments around and within our university cater more to meat-loving individuals. It’s true that during the first few months of turning vegetarian, I felt a lot more energized and way lighter! I’m looking forward to adjusting and embracing the vegan lifestyle entirely in the near future. :)

  • Kate says:

    I’m newly vegetarian — I first gave up beef, after watching a video of a supposedly “humane” slaughterhouse in Belgium that I happened across. After I stopped eating cows, I began to think about other animals, too. It was easier for me this way, and I did feel a bit better about myself for just saying now to at least one animal product.

  • Carolyn Baggoo says:

    Please tell me what is your favorite vegan cheese? It is the only thing I am struggling with to becoming vegan. I haven’t found a good vegan cheese I like.

  • VannaTheStrange says:

    This is basically how I went vegetarian. I did it slowly. It made it much easier for me to stick to!

  • Christina says:

    pasta primavera from lean cuisine or smart ones, is very good, and i’m pretty sure its vegan. its in the red box lol. :)

  • Laura in Taos says:

    I’ve found outstanding recipes at theppk.com (the post punk kitchen); some of them are a bit involved, but so far they are amazing!!! I even bought their cookbooks after trying some of the online free recipes.

  • Margaret says:

    i have tried the vegetarian frozen meals in my local supermarket and can’t find one that i like, where can i find nice recipes to make meals from scratch.

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