Vegan and Vegetarian Support in Kansas City

Making the Transition to Vegetarianism the Easy Way

[This page is adapted from Compassion Over Killing's Vegetarian Starter Guide. For additional information on going vegan, visit the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) Vegetarian Starter Kit online, which includes the Three-Step Way to Go Vegetarian. You can also to request a paper copy of the entire Vegetarian Starter Kit be mailed to you (for free).]

Each of us deals with change differently. Some go all out and never look back. Others like the slow and steady approach, making incremental changes while keeping sight of the final goal. Zig-zaggers take a few steps forward, another one back, one off to the side, and a couple more straight ahead. And then there are those who work themselves into a frenzy and feel paralyzed by the thought of changing old habits. If you're one of the above or somewhere in between, try these easy steps to becoming vegetarian, making the transition fun and painless.

1. Be vegetarian three days a week for the first two weeks.

Substitute a couple of ingredients in your favorite dishes to make them animal-free. Can't get enough spaghetti with meat sauce? Smother your preferred pasta with tangy marinara and throw on some sautéed garlic, mushrooms, or peppers for an extra kick. Are you a chocoholic? Fear not! Try some of the decadent dessert recipes to satisfy even the sweetest tooth or pick up a scrumptious Tropical Source® candy bar. Love tacos? Swap the ground beef with Textured Vedgetable Protein (TVP), vegetarian refried beans, black beans, or "meatless" crumbles, and spoon on a dollop of guacamole instead of sour cream (or purchase Tofutti® non-dairy sour cream). Toss on chopped veggies like greens, onions, and tomatoes, and voila! You've got a delicious treat just waiting for you to take that first bite. Making simple substitutions in your favorite recipes is an easy way to get used to eating vegetarian food. Check out's meat and dairy substitutes page.

2. Now try five days a week for another two weeks.

Add a couple more days of compassionate eating so you're a five-times-a-week vegetarian for two weeks. Check out your local grocery's "natural foods" section or stroll through the neighborhood health food store. Pick up some new-to-you vegetarian products and get creative in the kitchen. Need help finding a tasty recipe to go with the ingredient or product? Check out COK's or's ever-growing recipe collection for thousands of free, savory recipes! If you prefer eating out, visit your favorite hang-out and order a vegetarian dish (click here for some dining out tips) or check out a vegetarian-friendly restaurant and sample something new. Would you rather whip up your own culinary masterpiece? Invite over an open-minded, enthusiastic dinner companion and enjoy your own home-cooked meal.

3. So, you’ve been a near-vegetarian for a whole month.

Congratulations! By rounding out your week with two more vegetarian days, you’ve made it! Give yourself a pat on the back! You’re making wonderfully positive changes not only for yourself and the environment, but for the animals, too.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

As you move towards becoming vegetarian, try not to be hard on yourself if it takes some time. Remember that for every animal-friendly choice you make, you're having a profound and positive influence on the lives of animals raised for food, your own health, and the environment.

Being vegetarian isn't about being "pure." An all-or-nothing approach may be daunting or lead to short spurts of animal-friendly living instead of long-lasting dietary change. By keeping your eye on the prize—reducing the amount of harm done to animals—you can gradually adjust your diet for a smooth transition.

Don't forget to congratulate yourself for each vegetarian meal you enjoy! Even if you start out being a part-time vegetarian, you're already responsible for vastly more compassion in the world. As long as you keep moving in the right direction, you'll get there at the pace best for you.

So, be good to yourself and let us know if we can help along the way!

Good luck!

Even Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Many individuals wanting to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle can feel a bit overwhelmed at first. The key is to do the best you can. Remind yourself that while you probably can't avoid everything that contributed to animal cruelty, you can still make a huge difference by adopting some relatively small lifestyle changes. Also remember that it's much better to adopt a partly-veg lifestyle than none at all.

For some simple tips on how to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle, visit eHow's How to Live a Cruelty-Free Life.

"I can't believe it's vegan!"

PETA has a large list of products that just happen to be "accidently vegan," including Hershey's chocolate syrup, Fritos, Ritz crackers, and a hundred and one other products that can be found in any grocery store. Being vegan has never been easier!

Awesome Meatless Meats

Most KC grocery stores carry numerous brands of meat alternatives in the freezer, health food, or produce section.Check out Gardenburger's tasty meat alternatives: Buffalo Chik'n Wings®, Meatless Riblets, Meatless Sweet & Sour Pork, and many others (look for the asterisked items [*] on their Web site for vegan items). Find them at Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Hy-Vee's Health Mart, and elsewhere in KC.

What About Protein? Iron? B-12?

Proper nutrition is a common concern for omnivores and vegans alike. Please see Vegan Outreach's for an honest review of nutritional issues that vegans should be aware of, and for easy ways to include a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in every meal.

Need Some Recipe Ideas?

For hundreds of down-to-earth recipes, check out the VegWeb Recipe Directory. For some simple, quick recipes, try our Simple Recipes page.



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