Being a vegetarian is simpler for some than others. For me, the decision was almost split second. After months of umming and ahhing over it, one drunken Friday night out at 3am my friends and I decided to go get some post-club McDonald’s. I took one look at my Big Mac, turned to my friend and said “I’m going vegetarian after this”.
He replied with an unconvinced “Yeah, good luck…”
But here I am today, four years later and still going strong. What’s my secret you ask? These 10 tips should set you on the right path if you want to become (and stay!) vegetarian.
1. Ask Yourself ‘Do I Want To Do This?’
What’s your end game? Is this a temporary diet scheme, or a lifelong change? Are you doing it for health, or for the planet? Maybe even both?
The truth is, you don’t need to know why. Heck, if you’re like me and all it takes is one trip to Maccers then go for it! But I have found that the clearer your vision is the less likely you are to fall off the wagon later.
That being said, I also find that people that go veggie for health quickly find that it isn’t for them. If you love meat, but you’re trying to cut back, then vegetarianism won’t work for you. I’m a strong believer that if you give your body what it wants, it will be happy.
2. Start A Meal Plan
The most efficient way to get the food you need in your belly is to already know what you’re cooking. A weekly meal plan will allow you to really integrate your diet into your daily routine. You can plan shopping trips to local supermarkets and buy the ingredients you need for that week without hassle.
3. Scout Out Veggie Friendly Places Near You
Living in the city really is a vegetarian’s blessing. There’s so much choice that there are even whole supermarkets specialising in veggie/vegan foods.
But what if you live in a suburban area, where choice is a bit more limited. Unless you’re lucky, chances are you won’t have a special supermarket catering to your needs. Try and see if your local places have any veggie/Quorn aisles, or maybe some good tofu in the foreign foods section.
And don’t forget the plethora of online vegetarian/vegan food stores! Then you can have the food you want delivered straight to your door! Try out RealFoods’ vegetarian foods, or TheVeganKind, online supermarkets with quality deliveries.
4. Get Creative In The Kitchen
Apart from eating out, you’re going to want to know what you can make for yourself. Quick and simple pastas, rice dishes, stews and curries. These are typical staples of any household that can be easily twisted and personalised with a few choice ingredients.
Once you’ve got that sussed, branch out and get wacky! Find new flavour combinations that you love! Throw together ingredients you never thought you would. Sky’s the limit.
5. Learn What You Like
I’ve met countless vegetarians that, I kid you not, don’t like vegetables. There are absolutely other things you can eat besides vegetables, but c’mon. A carrot or two in your stew won’t hurt. Adventure down the path of veggies unknown and you’ll find a few that you don’t hate. Maybe you just haven’t find the one for you.
If you’re a sweet flavour fan, then stick to pumpkin and sweet potato like glue. If you don’t like peas because you find them bland, try substituting them with edamame beans, which have a much more buttery flavour! There’s too much out there for you to hate it all.
6. You Are NOT An Inconvenience
Has anyone said this to you? “Why don’t you eat chicken? It’s a vegetable, right?” It’s not funny.
I have gotten this sentiment from friends, family and even strangers! Apparently not wanting to eat meat makes you a food heathen. There will be haters, don’t let them get you down. Do your own thing, away from them. You don’t need that kind of toxicity while your already having to cope with a massive lifestyle change like going veggie.
7. Find A Supportive Community
From toxic haters to a new support system. There’s bound to be a thriving vegetarian community in your town of city, and they’ll be the ones that’ll really understand what it is you’re going through, so keep them close.
Try looking on Facebook for any veggie community pages in your area and find out where they hold get-togethers. Go to vegetarian/vegan festivals and meet people. Talk to people at your local veggie supermarket! Vegetarians are everywhere and there are so many ways to meet and bond with them.
8. Watch Out! Meat Finds A Way Into Everything
Remember that amazing flavour of instant noodles that you would do anything for? Yeah, you can’t have it anymore. The unfortunate truth is that meat is in a lot of products, even if it doesn’t outright say so on the label.
Have a good scan of the ingredient section for any products in bold that aren’t veggie friendly. Pork, beef and shrimp essence beware…
9. Christmas And Family Dinners Need Pre-Planning
Sometimes, my family forgets I’m vegetarian. I let it go, since it’s only been four years…But that means when Christmas rolls around I need to constantly remind them that I won’t be eating turkey.
Nut roasts are a viable vegetarian option that are readily available from nearly any supermarket. But I get that a loaf of fruit and nuts isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. Stuffed mushrooms, pepper and artichokes area also common options as well as vegetarian wellingtons.
10. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
I remember my first blunder. I was maybe two weeks in. It was late. I was tired. Then, from across the hall I saw a hotdog stand. Suddenly, I said to my friend “I could really go for a hotdog”. This went on for a good half hour before my friend courteously reminded me, “hey, aren’t you a vegetarian?”
So, I didn’t end up giving into my cravings. Go me. But if you do, there’s no shame. It happens to the best of us. It’s so easy to make fall off the wagon. The hard part is getting back on. And if you have the strength to keep trying, then that’s incredible!