- First thing's first
Vegetarianism is usually not some fast track to losing weight, nor will you magically become a superhero immune to all illness. Veggie diets can often cause deficiencies such as anemia (I had it twice from different deficiencies) and a very poor immune system. Unless you are going to tailor the diet to make up for the lost nutrients, I'd really recommend getting some good multivitamins and minerals, particularly with iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Most supermarkets will have their own Vegetarian Multivitamins, so grab these if you are unsure.
Silly tip from me: I found that not eating meat made me eat more chocolate and bread (of all things), which was worse than eating loads of meat! Moral of the story: eat healthily. At the end of the day, you should just be eating normal meals, just without meat.
Some veggies eat fish. Some eat milk and cheese. Some eat eggs. Some use commercial toothpastes. What you decide to eat in terms of grey area stuff is up to you. Many veggie cookbooks will have a introduction to what is generally accepted to not be eaten by vegetarians. Otherwise, just go on the Wikipedia article, which lists the different variations of diet.
- Make a list of what products you cannot eat.
When people think about vegetarians, they just think they cannot eat actual meat. This is mostly the case, however there are lots of hidden stuff, such as glycerin, that also also bad. This is because there are foods that use animal fats, for example marshmallows and gummy bears, and even party rings!
To avoid accidentally eating animal fats or meat, make a list of all the ingredients that you cannot eat. Most will be obvious, but be sure to ensure that you don't forget about the sneaky meaty foods.
- Look at the packaging
Most food (at least here in the UK) is reviewed by the Vegetarian Society prior to commercial release, so check packets to see if there is a green tick, or a tick shaped like a V. Some stuff will instead simply state it is suitable for veggies, so check for this if there are no visible ticks. If in doubt, though, check the ingredients list for any meat products. Many crisp brands only use flavourings made to taste like meat, and not actual meat, but just check to be sure. If I hadn't realised this, I wouldn't be happily munching on a pack of Smokey BBQ crisps!
- Get yourself a good cookbook
I swear by the Vegetarian Student Cookbook, but there are plenty of good other options. After reading an interview and some of her recipes in a magazine, It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow looks like a lovely choice, though it mainly focuses on minimising what is consumed in terms of food groups (some recipes are Vegan, others contain meat), so tread carefully. If you are instead looking for some veggie recipes for weight loss, The Skinny 5:2 Fast Diet Vegetarian Meals For One seems to be good; I may buy it and review it later!
|From It's All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow. Source|
- If you miss meat, get flavoured alternatives
Quorn and Linda McCartney will be your best friends if you are struggling to resist a bacon butty. These often cost similar prices to meat, but don't be surprised if they cost more. However, those sticking to an all-natural veggie diet will have to avoid these, due to them often being made from processed fungi (yes, you are pretty much eating meat-flavoured mushrooms!).