For those who are trying to turn vegetarian but cannot stop thinking about tandoori chicken
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Actor and musician, Monica Dogra talks about her vegetarian diet, cheat days and all things that feed her mind and body.

Turning Veg
I turned vegetarian when I was 12. The switch happened after I watched a documentary on how meat is raised before it reaches our dining table. Apart from the many other benefits, keeping off meat has helped me stay lean. If you are someone who pays attention to your carbon footprint, turning vegetarian is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to be kinder to the planet.

Also Read: Planning a Euro trip as a vegetarian? These are the most vegetarian-friendly European countries

Start Small
A lot of people get intimidated by the idea of turning vegetarian. They feel they will not be able to stick to a vegetarian diet. But I always tell them to start small and try it for a few days or a week. Don’t be hard on yourself. Do what you can.

Also Read: Non-vegetarians who are thinking about turning vegetarian often worry about the nutrients they will miss out on. Nutritionists tell you the vegetarian foods that will give you the same nutrition as your non-vegetarian meals

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Don’t Judge
Anyone who tells you that it’s super easy to stick to a vegetarian lifestyle (especially if you’ve been a carnivore all your life), is lying. My modus operandi is to do what I can and not be judgmental or picky. It is not the label of 'vegetarian' but the intent that matters. A few years ago, when I was in Japan, I ate sushi and I don’t regret it. I love food and it is intrinsically tied with the culture of a place. Plus, I’ve done a good job of being a vegetarian for over 20 years!

Also Read: To get started with your vegetarian diet, check out these simple vegetarian recipes

Pick Good Food
Food is a gift I give to myself. I follow a strict diet for six days a week and then I have one enormous cheat day. When I am holidaying with my family, I eat what I like but make sure I exercise. If you're worried about putting on 'vacation calories', these tips by health experts tell you how to have a healthy holiday without missing out on any of the fun.

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Also Read: Everyone has cheat days, even nutritionists! Check out what nutritionists eat on their cheat days

Begin Yoga
My food choices have been influenced by yoga and meditation. I have been practising yoga for over 10 years and the practice spurred me to give up alcohol. When the benefits are so great, making a better decision comes easily.

Also Read: These are the foods you should be eating before and after yoga sessions to get the most out of your workout

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Think Holistic
Meditation has greatly impacted the way I eat and think about food. When I was reading about foods that should be consumed to meditate more efficiently, I found that wheat was not among the list of grains mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. Apart from being very difficult to digest, wheat is also a new world phenomenon. It’s perhaps why a lot of people are developing gluten allergy. Instead of wheat, I prefer eating local millets like bajra, ragi and rice.

Also Read: If you're not convinced about adding millets to your diet, these health benefits of millets will change your mind

Diet Mantras
I try to eat raw foods. It just makes me feel better. I have been cutting down on wheat products as it doesn’t agree with me. Much of the wheat on the planet today is genetically modified. So I buy a lot of rice and ragi products. I have rice cakes for breakfast, a big salad for lunch and dal, rice and some vegetable for dinner.

Also Read: 10 reasons to move to a whole food plant-based diet

Health Supplements
I like spirulina and use it in my smoothies every day. I am not a big fan of whey protein and prefer vega protein which I carry with me even when I am travelling. I also use Maca root in my smoothies and cooked food. It’s rich in amino acids, vitamins and fatty acids. It also works as an energy enhancer and mood stabiliser. I also consume a lot of nutritional yeast which is high in omega-3 and B12. I sprinkle it in my dal and rice. It has a cheesy, yeasty flavour. I eat Marmite–a concentrated yeast extract that has a very distinctive flavour. The taste is very unique-yeasty, salty, soy sauce-y flavour. It’s good for the heart, liver and kidney functions and helps protect the nervous system.

Cleanse
I indulge in a juice cleanse once every year. Most of us are not great at portion control so it’s nice to take a break sometime.

Also Read: All you need to know about vegetable juices, their health benefits and simple juice recipes to get you started

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