Read labels. Vegetarian packaged and processed foods are subject to the same hazards as the nonvegetarian alternatives. As pointed out in the Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival Guide, there are better and worse choices in the frozen meatless entrée aisle. One package of Celentano Eggplant Parmigiana, for example, contains 660 calories, 44 grams of fat (10 of which are saturated), and 960 milligrams of sodium. Compare that to Kashi Black Bean Mango, with 340 calories, 8 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), and 430 milligrams of sodium. Blatner recently did an analysis of meatless hot dogs and burgers and found that while they generally have less fat and more fiber than the meat alternative, they also have more sodium and less protein. So look at labels showing nutrient content and ingredients the same way you would with any other food. And don’t forget the calories—they still count, as Kirstie Alley found out.
Ease into it. If you’ve decided to become a vegetarian, don’t go cold no-turkey. “Try making half your meals during the week meatless,” says Tara Gidus, a nutrition performance coach and ADA spokesperson. “Then try three quarters of your meals the next week.” And remember that it’s not all or nothing in terms of your health. If vegetarianism is not for you, pick lean cuts of meat, and don’t make them the center of every meal. Instead, sprinkle them into a diet based on vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and “good” fats like olive oil. Omnivores can be perfectly healthy, too! Related: Making Meat Without Killing Animals Could Fix a Host of Problems.