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22 Things To Know Before You Decide To Stop Eating Meat

Whether you're thinking of going vegetarian or vegan or just trying to eat way less meat, these tips can help you do it in a healthy and sustainable way.

1. When you cut meat out of your diet (or even just cut way back on it), you'll want to make sure you're still getting enough protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

2. You don't need to jump in 100% from the get-go if you're trying to become a vegetarian — you can take smaller steps to get there if you need to.

3. Choose smoothies over juices.

4. See if you can add natural sources of protein to your smoothies instead of protein powder.

5. You might want to learn a few great recipes that involve beans or lentils, if you don't know them already.

6. Vegetarians need to eat about twice as much iron as non-vegetarians in order to get the amount they need.

7. You'll absorb more iron when you combine it with vitamin C.

8. The amount of protein you need depends a lot on how active you are.

9. You don't need to eat dairy to get calcium (although that will help).

10. If eggs are still in your diet, embrace them if you can or want to!

11. But if you're vegan or otherwise don't eat eggs, you can make some easy swaps.

12. Mason jar salads are a fun and easy way to prep your lunch for the week.

13. Make your own salad dressings to cut back on sugar and sodium.

14. You should make friends with a vitamin D supplement, especially in the winter.

15. You need to eat a variety of protein sources every day — it's not enough to just eat a lot of quinoa and call it a day.

16. Get creative with hummus as another way to add protein and iron to your diet.

17. And make sure your snacks have protein, too, to keep you full and satisfied.

18. You'll also want to mind your omega-3s.

"Omega-3s are a type of unsaturated fat, and it's really beneficial for optimal heart function," Sharda says. Fish are high in omega-3s, but vegetarians might want to turn to canola, flaxseed, walnut, or soybean oil, she says. You can also find it in ground flaxseed and soybeans. One easy way to do this: Add flaxseed to your smoothies. Like in this green smoothie picture above. Get the recipe here.

19. Steaming veggies preserves more nutrients than boiling them.

20. A slow cooker isn't necessary, but it sure is nice. And the same goes for a blender, while you're at it.

21. Try to eat produce that's in season, and local, if possible.

22. Deciding to eat vegetarian is a lifestyle choice, and it can require some work. The more you plan ahead, the easier it'll be.