How to Go Vegetarian for Beginners: Vegetarian Beginner Tips

How to Go Vegetarian for Beginners: Vegetarian Beginner Tips

There are several different motivators for eating vegetarian. Some people want to become vegetarian for religious reasons, or they may have animal rights or environmental concerns. But many people want to eat a vegetarian diet because they believe it’s better for their health. Are they correct?

A 2023 review of a variety of studies looking at the health benefits of vegetarian diets found that they tend to be healthier because they are higher in fruits and vegetables, fiber, and healthy fats.1 When a vegetarian diet is a healthy plant-based diet that is low in highly processed or refined foods, it positively supports many body systems including the heart, brain, immune system, blood sugar levels, and normal body weight.2

Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet

The first step in becoming a vegetarian is determining what type of vegetarian diet you want to follow. While in general eating a vegetarian diet means you will exclude meat from your diet, other versions exist:3

  • Flexitarians consume meat sporadically or even once a week.
  • Pescatarians avoid meat but eat fish and seafood.
  • Lacto ovo vegetarians exclude all types of meat but eat some animal products such as eggs and dairy.
  • Ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat or dairy but do eat eggs.
  • Lacto vegetarians don’t eat meat or eggs but do eat dairy.
  • Veganism is a strict vegetarian diet that excludes all animal products and other products made from animals, even clothing and cosmetics.

If you are interested in transitioning to a vegetarian diet, you may find that a gradual strategy may work best. For example, you could begin by cutting back meat and then giving up red meat first and then poultry. In addition, there are many alternatives now available to make it easier to swap out meat and dairy. 

Some key plant-based foods to buy to replace meat include tofu, tempeh, lentils, mushrooms, and jackfruit. Cheese can be replaced with soy, cashew, or other nut-based cheeses. Soy, almond, coconut, and rice milk can replace cow’s milk.

It’s important to ensure adequate nutrient intake when transitioning to a vegetarian diet. Some key nutrients to focus on include vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc.4 According to the authors of an article in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, “Although a vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients, the use of supplements and fortified foods provides a useful shield against deficiency.” That’s why cooking with ingredients, such as nutritional yeast, to help fortify the intake of these key nutrients is really the best of both worlds.

If you are a vegetarian beginner, there are many books, cookbooks, and online resources available to help get you started on your meat-free eating journey. We recommend this Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese recipe.

For more tips on nutrition, mindful wellness practices, and helping your family feel their best, follow us on Facebook @kalvits and Instagram at @kalvitamins


  1. Agnoli C, Baroni L, Bertini I, et al. A comprehensive review of healthy effects of vegetarian diets. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. 2023;33(7):1308-1315.
  2. Wang T, Masedunskas A, Willett WC, Fontana L. Vegetarian and vegan diets: benefits and drawbacks. European Heart Journal. 2023;44(36):3423-3439.
  3. Hargreaves S, Raposo A, Saraiva A, Zandonadi R. Vegetarian diet: an overview through the perspective of quality of life domains. In J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(8).
  4. Craig WJ. Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets. Nut Clin Pract. 2010;25(6):613-620.
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