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I want to try to move over to a vegetarian diet, mostly for health reasons. I don’t have much free time (work and kids) to prepare meals. What resources exist to help someone get started on a vegetarian diet quickly easily and cheaply?

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Since vegetarians also eat everything vegans do, hope you don't mind me listing vegan resources. There's an app that you can download that has a 21 day meal plan. There are plenty more resources you can find with an online search, as well as the PETA site.

My own suggestion would be to start gradually if you find it hard to switch 100% in one go. For example, no animal products once a week, then twice a week, and so on, until you reach your goal. Ready-made meals can help, there are plenty of good options in the supermarket. Another is to simply replace the animal ingredients in whatever you usually prepare, with a plant based alternative. Again, your supermarket or health store should have plenty of vegan alternatives for meat, chicken, eggs, milk, ham, cheese, ice-cream, etc. Organic soya chunks and tofu are also easy to use as meat replacements.

It's true that it's best not to rely too much on processed foods, but in my opinion, I think that the ingredients are the most important. If you find a processed meat alternative with natural ingredients, I think it's still healthier than eating the animal based counterpart. That said, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, with plenty of raw food, preferably organic, should still constitute the majority of your diet. Eventually you will find that you won't need any animal products and the vegan alternatives for them will be optional too.

I happen to love Indian food, and all Indian restaurants I've visited around the world have plenty of vegan options, so that's a good one for takeaways. Other cuisines are also starting to cater more for vegetarians and vegans. It might also give you some ideas on what to cook.

Cooking tips: If like me you don't have much time to follow recipes, you can quickly improvise by mixing a starchy food with a protein rich food. For example: pasta/rice/potatoes/quinoa with beans/peas/lentils/chickpeas. These dishes, such as potatoes with canned beans, can be done quickly and cheaply. Throw in whatever veggies you have around, steamed, roasted, stir-fried or raw.

My method is to randomly add a variety of herbs and spices for flavor and extra nutrition, without following any rules or measurements. I cannot remember any meal that didn't taste good after that. Some of my favorites are mixed herbs, parsley, oregano, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, smoked paprika, ground ginger, and of course, soy sauce. Have fun experimenting.

Finally, you might want to join groups that will encourage you or give you tips. Wish you good luck!

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