I’ve been slowly transitioning into vegetarianism for the last 3 months, and have been fully vegetarian for the last month. To celebrate my 1 month vegeversary I thought I’d bring you these tips for going vegetarian that have helped me along the process. I used all of these tips in one way or another and found them to help a lot throughout my journey. I know going vegetarian isn’t for everyone, and I’m not trying to push my values on anyone. I’m just proud of where I’ve come with my decision and I’m hoping some of these tips will help out others like they’ve helped me.
EASE YOURSELF INTO IT
Some people like my gal pal Amy from Pastel and Pink find it helpful to quit cold turkey, I’m not one of those people. If it works for you then that’s awesome, but I found it helpful to take a different approach when going vegetarian. Ease yourself into it by slowly phasing out different meat and eating it less frequently. This allows you that time to really enjoy those last meat dishes without feeling too guilty about it (see below). When I made the decision to go vegetarian I quit eating beef and pork almost immediately and started eating chicken or fish a couple times a week, then down to once a week, or even less. My friend Caitlyn from College with Caitlyn is in the middle of the transition herself, and she also finds the transition easiest when slowly phasing meat out of her diet.
I also recommend having your “last dinners”. When you have your last meals you can truly appreciate your favourite tasty meat dishes, and in the future you don’t have the excuse of, “I just want to have one last (insert favourite meat dish here)”. I used a final summer camping trip as my “last dinners”. I had roast, hot dogs, and beef jerky completely guilt free knowing I was going vegetarian as soon as I went home.
DON’T BE HARD ON YOURSELF
If you slip up don’t be too hard on yourself. Things happen, your cravings get the best of you, or you find out something actually had meat in it. Just because you slipped up doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person, or that you should just give up on it.
A couple of days after I came back from my camping trip Matt’s mom made turkey dinner – one of my favourite meals. I caved and had that “last turkey dinner”. I pigged out, it was completely delicious, and I felt so sick after. I was able to get that final turkey dinner out of the way so I wasn’t left thinking about it during Thanksgiving or Christmas. I felt bad about it, and my stomach felt even sicker, which gave me more motivation to never do it again.
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MAKE IT A COMPETITION
This is a great tip that I got from Maggie from Actually it’s Maggie, make it a competition either with yourself, or with a friend. Tell yourself or a friend you can go one whole day with your new diet, then 2 whole days, then a whole week. Before you know it you’ll make it a month and then more. As you reach each of your mini goals it’ll boost your confidence and help you push through the tough parts by reminding yourself that you can do it, look at how far you’ve come.
Another options is placing bets, or compete with a friend, or even a stranger in a FB group or other online forum. If you really want to give yourself that extra incentive you could make a bet with someone you know will never let you hear the end of it if you quit. It’ll be extra motivation so you don’t hear them bugging you for not making it, and you can stick it to them once you show how well you do.
LOOK UP MENUS BEFORE YOU GO OUT
Looking up menus has been a huge help for me. One of the toughest things about going vegetarian is eating out, but you’ll be surprised by how many restaurants have vegetarian options. Look up the menu before you go out. If your friends suggested a place and you realize there’s basically no vegetarian options look up a few different restaurants, then tell your friends there aren’t many options for you to eat there, and ask if they mind eating at (insert multiple restaurant options here). Not everyone will be supportive about your decision, but your friends will probably be happy switching to a restaurant that they can still get their favourites, and you are able to enjoy a good meal with them too.
Bringing snacks and food with you is one of the best ways to keep yourself on track. You’re more likely to slip up if you’re super hungry and want a bite of your friends food, or you end up quickly popping into that corner sandwich cafe with limited veggie options. Prepare for success by packing some vegetarian friendly food to carry you through your day. My favourite YouTuber, Kalyn Nicholson, has some great vegan lunch recipes. I’ve always been a big tuna fan and I love her chickpea fake tuna sandwich. It’s not the same, but it’s a fantatic alternative with a similar consistency.
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DON’T EXPECT TO REPLACE MEAT
You aren’t going to be able to replace meat completely. A veggie burger will not taste like a hamburger, and nothing can replace steak. The sooner you get over the fact that you can’t replace the taste of meat, the easier it will be to try new recipes that align with your vegetarian values. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few fantastic meat alternatives, but it’s rare for them to replace that taste and consistency you used to love, not to mention many are made from soy which isn’t the greatest for you either. Have your “last meals”, enjoy your meat, and then say goodbye.
This is your chance to try new recipes, and think out of the box when it comes to food. If you live with other meat eaters you could try setting a Meatless Monday in your household and use it as a way to try new recipes, and share your new lifestyle with those closest to you. You may surprise them with how tasty and filling vegetarian dinners can be!
MIX IT UP WITH SPICES
This is a fantastic tip from my friend Kristine from My Little Box of Tricks. Instead of buying tons of new veggies to try and having a bunch of them go bad in your fridge – totally guilty – you can try and mix up your flavours with different spices. It’s much more economical to stock your spice cupboard that has a longer shelf life, than stocking your fridge with items that don’t last long.
If you’re thinking of going vegetarian I hope you’ve found at least one of these tips helpful. If you’re a long-time vegetarian, or new to the club please share your experiences below. I love to hear about other’s journeys and what’s helped or what some struggles are – we can all support each other <3