First off, you are totally awesome for taking the appropriate steps to become a healthy vegetarian. I want to let folks know that just because you are vegan/vegetarian, doesn’t mean you are automatically eating healthfully. I’ll use myself as an example. When I first went veg over 15 years ago, I was overdoing it on simple carbs, sweets and lots of candy! I was heavier, always tired and had very low energy. It took me a long time to realize that if you don’t do the veg thing the right way, you will suffer the consequences.
As a vegetarian/vegan, your main goal is to eat a varied diet. Being veg is hard work because you have to make sure to rotate between a variety of beans, seeds, nuts, veggies, fruits and grains. Remember, no one food can give you all the nutrients you need. The main nutrients vegans/vegetarians need to monitor (I will create a video soon explaining why) are calcium, iron, zinc, protein, EPA/DHA, vitamin D and vitamin b12. You can use the website Nutrition Data to look up the nutrients in different foods to ensure you get 100% of the Daily Value of those vitamins/minerals. If you aren’t, I would suggest taking a supplement.
Also, since the majority of Americans make meat the main focus of their meals, it can be hard to come up with recipes that aren’t meat focused. One great resource that has simple and affordable recipes for every vegetable you can think of is the website Just Say Yes.
Lastly, I would recommend the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook by Mark Bittman which contains lots of pretty pictures and straightforward recipes. You may also want to try Living Vegetarian for Dummies (or just take a peek at the cheat sheet if you don’t want to shell out the cash for the book)! The book includes tips for gradually reducing your meat intake, explains the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle and offers dozens of new recipes designed to ease the transition from omnivore to vegetarian.
Let us know how it goes!