So. I’m a vegetarian. And you are probably thinking one of two things: Either um, okay, did I ask? or no shit. Or, on second thought, you also might be thinking ew, oh God, why? Don’t you have to, like, only eat salad? To which I would reply no. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I ate a salad, because they make me mad. Like, why am I eating lettuce? I’m gonna be hungry in 5 minutes. And all vegetarians or converting vegetarians should not have to suffer through sad, dull salads like I have in the past. But more importantly, a lot of converting vegetarians give up because they find the diet too hard, or get frustrated with their silly mistakes. I’m here to show you how easy it can be to be vegetarian, and, well, you’re here to show yourself how rewarding it can be in the end. Without further ado, here are 10 tips on how to successfully become a vegetarian.
1. Get motivated
I remember I made up my mind about becoming vegetarian in the span of one night, after just happening to stumble upon the Youtube community of veganism. Finding out the truth about the meat industry not only blew my mind, but made me so motivated to quit meat forever. I quickly got into watching informative documentaries which simultaneously broke my heart and changed my outlook on life and other animals completely. How to go veggie overnight? Watch the documentaries, “Food Inc.” and “Earthlings.” LIFE-CHANGING SHIT. TRUST. Seriously this is how to successfully become a vegetarian.
2. Look up foods that you wouldn’t expect to not be vegetarian
To name a few, all of the following are not vegetarian: marshmallows and gummy bears (immediate sad faces all around), Parmesan cheese and French onion soup. Yup. I know the struggle, believe me. But hey! I kind of did you a favour if you didn’t know about the gummy bear thing. I got that piece of terrible news out of the way (although rest assured that there are gelatin-free gummies available, so it’s not all bad).
3. Go slow
This means slowly subtracting meats from your diet. Plenty of people start off by cutting red meat first, then taking away other meats, and then lastly removing fish. This helps with your transition, because it not only will be less of a shock to your body, but it will be much easier to continue. Going cold turkey (pun intended) on this can be difficult for many people, so don’t pressure yourself to “never touch chicken nuggets again” if you happen to have a really intense, inconvenient addiction to chicken nuggets (not speaking from personal experience or anything).
4. Use fake meats
This helps majorly. You probably didn’t realize how much meat you actually ate before you, you know, couldn’t eat meat anymore. You start to crave that meaty flavour once it’s gone for a little while. So, take no shame in indulging in some yummy ass veggie burgers from time to time, or every day for every meal ever, if you’re me.
5. Find protein sources that don’t suck!
Even though your transition diet will likely be filled with carbs, carbs, and more carbs, don’t forget about your protein! This means eating nuts, beans and legumes, whole grains, dairy and eggs (that is, if you’re not going vegan), and yes, even tofu. You need protein in your diet, and there are many tasty and versatile options that didn’t once cluck or oink. This is crucial for how to successfully become a vegetarian.
6. Get involved in the veggie community around you
Whether this be checking out veggie restaurants in the city, joining the vegetarian/vegan club at school, or even just talking to veggie friends that you know, this helps you surround yourself with people like you. Sometimes it gets a teensy-weensy bit exhausting to have to explain to people why being vegetarian isn’t all that radical of a choice to make (I’m looking at you, parents). When you’re with people who think like you, it helps in staying motivated. Plus, you get to share all sorts of cute tips and hacks and random tidbits of information! I can’t tell you how many times a waiter or waitress has told me something surprisingly useful when I’m out eating at a restaurant.
7. Speaking of restaurants, find out what’s vegetarian at places you go to already.
Specifically, research fast food places so you know what you can eat when you’re in a rush or stumbling into McDonalds at 2 a.m. with your friends (it happens). Additionally, it always helps to check menus online when you know you’re going out to eat somewhere you’ve never been! This takes away that temptation of reaching for something not-so-veggie-friendly, because you know what you can eat and what you can’t. And chances are, there are tons of options for you. This will help you how to successfully become a vegetarian.
8. Have snacks handy
Because you’re hungry, like, all the time now. I’m no stranger to aggressively inhaling a granola bar while speed walking to my next class. Throw some simple snacks into your bag before you leave, and hey, maybe even something healthy if you’re into that sorta thing.
9. Tell people
Oh dear, here is a dreadful part for some of us. This is necessary for a lot of reasons, but mainly it helps your transition because you’re held accountable. People know you’re doing this thing, and wouldn’t it suck if you stopped doing said thing because, I don’t know man, I think I just really like chicken nuggets. It’ll help you how to successfully become a vegetarian.
10. Don’t stress over your mess-ups!
In the wise words of famed childhood icon, Hannah Montana, everybody makes mistakes. Heck, one time I ordered poutine that was clearly labelled “beef fat” because I read it wrong and I thought it said “beef-free.” It’s easy to get upset over breaking the diet, because it feels like you broke this long streak of meat-free, but if you have the same mentality that being vegetarian is great for you, the environment, and the animals, you will continue to do great for the world. Plus, we learn from our mistakes. I for one have learned to read descriptions of poutine very carefully.
Heather is a first year UofT English major who enjoys staying up late enough to hear people on her floor start their morning. She can be found talking to herself in public while she takes embarassing Snapchat videos, eating copious amounts of instant oatmeal, and complaining about how much work she has to do while she has over 10 Youtube tabs open.