Tips for Transitioning to a Meat-free Diet

Tips for Transitioning to a Meat-free Diet

Contributed by Eve Persak, Nutrition Advisor, MS RD CNSC CSSD

Studies have shown that reducing meat intake has plenty of health benefits – from improved blood pressure levels to reduced risk of heart diseases, diabetes and obesity.

However, before you go completely cold turkey on meat, let Eve share the best way to go about it to ensure you reap all the benefits, without risking any nutrient deficiency.   

1. Pace yourself

Give your body time to slowly adjust to your new diet. If meat has been a staple in your meals, your body will expect it. Consider a gradual reduction to allow the body to comfortably acclimatise to processing different non-meat foods.

 2.  Fill in the obvious gaps

It’s easy to become deficient in certain nutrients if you don’t plan your meals carefully. Here are some of the common nutrients that vegetarians sometimes lack: 


  •  Dietary protein is essential for growth and development, building and preserving muscles, and immune health.
  • For vegetarians, eggs or dairy products are valuable sources of complete protein.
  •  Those who are on a purely plant-based diet can get their protein by including ample legumes, whole cereal grains, nuts and seeds.  


This mineral is a critical component of blood and is used for transporting oxygen via the bloodstream from the lungs to the rest of the body.


  • Plant sources often offer less of this mineral per serving. Also, plant-based iron is less bioavailable as compared to iron from meat.
  • Good sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, whole grains and beans.


B Vitamins

  • B vitamins are crucial in cellular repair and metabolism.
  • While abundant in meat, B vitamins are lower in quantity and concentration in plant sources.
  • Vitamin B12, in particular, is derived only from animal sources.
  • Eggs and dairy are meat-free dietary inclusions that still offer valuable vitamin B12 support. Supplements are often needed for individuals who exclude these – out of necessity (allergy/intolerance) or preference (vegans). 

3. Plan ahead  

You’ll need to pay more attention to your choice of food as plant-based sources often have nutrients in less concentrated and bioavailable forms. You’ll need to consume more to obtain adequate amounts.

Furthermore, plant sources often require a few extra steps to be processed and used, and it can take time for the body to acclimatise to this extra work. Some easy ways to ensure your body gets what it needs include beefing up your favourite dishes with nutrient-rich ingredients, previewing vegetarian menu options at restaurants and bringing your own dishes to potluck dinners. 

4. Align with an expert

There is no one exactly like you. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to nutrition.

Before you take meat out of your diet, consider consulting a registered nutrition professional. He or she can assess your current food choices and eating patterns, lifestyle, past medical history, current health status and other pertinent variables to help you plan a new meat-free diet that supports your needs comprehensively. He or she can also suggest specific foods and beverages that are best suited for your system and your health goals, and recommend supplementation, if necessary. 

Whatever your health goal, Eve is here to help. She is available for private nutrition consultations, bespoke corporate talks or The Kitchen Edit, where she reviews your pantry to help you lead a healthy, nutritionally-balanced life. If you have any enquiries or would like to sign up for a consultation, please contact COMO Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore at +65 6304 3552 or