Woman making a green smoothie for her vegan diet

Helpful Tips for Being a Vegetarian or Vegan

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan can improve your health and happiness, but it shouldn’t make your everyday activities more difficult. For those who have recently made the switch to these diet plans, here are some ways you can make eating out, cooking, shopping, and talking to your friends and family about your food choices completely pain and stress-free. Once you get into the groove of things, you will soon find that your new lifestyle is just as easy and enjoyable to keep up as anyone else’s. 

Eating Out

While Five Guys probably isn’t going to be your go-to stop on your lunch break anymore, you still have a variety of options if you are vegan or vegetarian. If you’re eating vegetarian, try out a veggie burger from Burger King, a cheesy bean and rice burrito from Taco Bell, or an egg and cheese toaster sandwich from Sonic. Or, simply ask for tofu or extra veggies and cheese instead of meat in any meal.

Eating vegan is slightly more difficult, but still definitely doable. Order the Veggie Delite sandwich at Subway and top it off with some sriracha or sweet onion sauce, a bean burrito from Taco Bell without cheese or sour cream, or some black bean soup from Panera Bread.

At sit-down restaurants, vegetarians and vegans can opt for fajitas minus the meat (and cheese), tomato sauce-based pastas, baked potatoes topped with margarine, (vegan) sour cream and salsa, power bowls filled with rice, beans, and vegetables, vegetable stir-fry, or lettuce wraps with tofu. Plus there are always salads.


Becoming a vegan or vegetarian will change the way you cook, but it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite recipes. Do you love lasagna? Find a vegetarian Italian recipe that is filled with tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and onions, and if you still eat dairy products, tons of melty cheese. How about brownies? Use dark chocolate (dairy-free!) instead of milk chocolate, olive oil in place of butter, and some mashed banana instead of eggs. Also, don’t get stuck in a rut of making the same recipes over and over again.

One benefit of being a vegetarian or vegan is that there are a lot of exotic recipes that go along with a vegetarian or vegan diet plan. Try out Indian samosas (fried pastries filled with spiced potato, peas, onions, or beans), Thai pumpkin coconut soup, or Mexican grilled veggie enchiladas. 


Finding packaged foods that comply with vegetarianism or veganism can be a challenge because animal-based products can be found in a lot of surprising foods, such as Twinkies, which contain beef fat. You can spend all of your time scouring through ingredient lists, or you can make your life easier and choose a store that has a health foods section, like Kroger or Trader Joe's. In this section, almost all foods will be labeled if they’re vegan or vegetarian-friendly.

As a general rule, fresh foods are healthier than processed and packaged ones, so whenever you can, try to buy fresh food. You’ll know for sure that they will fit your lifestyle and you won’t have to worry about any hidden ingredients.


Handling Questions

It’s impossible to avoid questions about being a vegetarian or vegan, and you may encounter people who react to your diet plan in a judgmental manner. Most people will understand and respect your decision if you explain the benefits of being a vegetarian or vegan, and if they don’t, don’t worry about it. Let them live their life and you can live yours.

Those around you may be curious about the benefits of a vegetarian diet or vegan diet, so do your best to explain what you eat and why and how it’s benefited your life since you made the switch. Give examples of how you aren’t missing out on anything and offer to cook them a vegetarian or vegan meal so they can get a taste of it. Serve an appetizer, a filling entree and complete the meal with a tasty vegan cake recipe because if anything will change a person’s mind, it’s cake.

Last Updated: August 25, 2015