So you've found yourself opting to be a vegetarian. The transition into a new way of eating and living is not always easy and as a result people often ditch their vegetarian goals and revert back to their previous eating habits. Here are some steps to ensure a successful transition to vegetarianism:
Step 1 Find Your Own Reason
Becoming vegetarian for no particular reason can leave one with a lack of motivational force; finding a passionate reason for giving up meat can make all the difference. Do some research into the topic and you will find there are plenty of reasons to switch. Some to consider are:
- Conscience - A strong motivation for becoming vegetarian is the animal cruelty taking place in the meat industries. People who have strong beliefs in the equal rights of animals or are just plain animal lovers use the good feeling of saving animals lives to drive their dedication. If you are unaware of the animal cruelty associated in the meat industry, do some research. A popular video that has been known to change minds about meat is a video called "Meet your Meat".
Doing some light research about slaughterhouses on the Internet can result in a change of heart about meat. Try checking out PETA.
- Weight Loss - Many people stop eating meat to encourage weight loss and promote health. A vegetarian diet cuts the fat intake drastically, which in turn causes weight loss. Be careful though, as it is easy to instead put on weight because of eating too many carbs (e.g. pastas, breads). As long as you have a healthy balance of vegetables and starches, weight gain should not be an issue. In regards to health, becoming vegetarian drastically reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition to lowering risk of disease, being vegetarian also can lower cholesterol levels. For more health benefits, click here.
- Environmental Impact - Believe it or not, the meat industry is a top contributor to global degradation. Meat production is a huge source of pollution as well as waste of natural resources such as land, water, and food. By not eating meat you are lessening the demand of meat production. If you are passionate about the environment, use this as a motivation, starting a vegetarian lifestyle can help your cause. To find some more startling facts about meat based diets impact on the environment, glance over this article.
Remember to find a reason that YOU believe in - something that makes you really want to change.
Step 2 Slowly Lessen Meat Intake
Now that you have a driving force to success, it is time to actually put the works in motion: rid your life of meat! Going completely cold tofurky is not the best way to adapt to being a vegetarian. When people rid meat all at once they often find themselves struggling more than they have to, which is quite discouraging. The key is to gradually eliminate your meat intake. A good plan is to give yourself a week to wean yourself from meat and get used to alternative meals.
Recommended schedule for your meat-reduction week:
Day 1: Eat naturally, eat exactly what you would typically. At the end of the day take note of how much meat you consumed (measured in how many servings, or meals, whatever works for you).
Day 2 - 4: Start to make conscious decisions of avoiding meat. On these days, reduce your usual meat intake by 1/3. So if you eat meat 3 times a day, change out one meal for a vegetarian option...a bountiful salad or pasta loaded with veggies.
Day 5 - 6: Begin to look for vegetarian alternatives for every meal while still allowing yourself a serving of meat if completely necessary.
Day 7: Say goodbye to meat altogether. Consciously make decisions to eat healthy non-meat entrees and snacks. For some, when the time comes to give up meat all together it can leaves feelings of "I cannot do this" but just remind yourself of that driving reason you have for starting a better lifestyle.
Step 3 Explore Vegetarianism
Now that you are committed to being a vegetarian, it is time to find some fun, delicious vegetarian food! Being programmed to make and eat meat based meals, it can be hard to find vegetarian meals that are just as satisfying, and we all know you can't live off salads forever.
- Search around for a grocery store that accommodates your new eating habits. The perfect way to do this is to go to Yelp.com, enter "vegetarian grocery store", and then enter your location. You can read reviews and ratings along with descriptions before selecting a few to try out. If you lack specifically vegetarian grocery stores in your area, try a more organic one such as Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
- Once you make your first visit to the grocery store, do not get overwhelmed. Take your time exploring the shelves and do not be afraid to pick things up to examine them further. If you have really been craving a meat product such as turkey for a turkey sandwhich, ask a grocer for recommendations regarding an imitation meat. Just remember to be open to trying new things. Eventually you will find things you love.
- After trying some new alternatives you can find yourself finding what you like and dislike. To explore further start looking into vegetarian recipes by searching the internet or even picking up a vegetarian cookbook. Either way, attempt to make at least one new vegetarian dish a week. Eventually you will have a whole new list of recipes that you can enjoy without the need for meat.
- In addition to your own preparing of vegetarian meals, try some vegetarian restaurants. The majority of restaurants provide vegetarian options, but since that is not their focus the meals usually are lack-luster. Just like for the grocery store, search Yelp.com for vegetarian restaurants and decide on one that entices you while still fitting your budget. You may even find that vegetarian restaurant menus give you inspiration for your own dish at home.
Step 4 Note Changes
Since you are now a fairly adjusted vegetarian, think about how you felt before making the switch. Think about how you feel now in comparison. Note all the positive side affects that vegetarianism has had on you. For example: a clear conscience, a slimmer figure, maybe an energy boost. Use these constructive changes to motivate yourself further to keep up with your new diet. When you're feeling discouraged, remind yourself of these subtle changes and your desire for more.
Step 5 Have Fun
The most important thing to making a smooth transition that will last is to have fun with it! If you go in perceiving this new, life changing experience as a chore, chances are you will revert right back to eating dead animals. Let yourself view your transition as a fun experience of bettering yourself while getting to explore a whole new way of eating and living.