Quitting meat or animal products can be very challenging, especially if this has been your lifestyle for years. There are many health benefits to becoming a Vegetarian and swapping meat for whole foods. With the positive ongoing trend of Vegetarianism and the increase in Vegetarian and Vegan options in restaurants, supermarkets and even fast food chains, becoming a Vegetarian or Vegan has never been easier. If you are thinking about becoming a Vegetarian or even a Vegan, here are 10 tips on how to become a Vegetarian or Vegan that have helped me with my journey. If you want to know why I decided to go Vegetarian, click here.
1. Don’t think about what you cannot eat, think about what you can eat
Essentially, becoming a Vegetarian or a Vegan is just like quitting a habit. Don’t think of it as “I am not allowed to eat meat”. Think of it as “I choose not to eat meat because…”. This will make it easier for you. There are so many delicious recipes that do not include meat or animal products. Don’t just cook the same meal leaving out the meat. I guarantee you, you will miss it. Try out recipes where you don’t feel the need of having meat in it. Think about all the delicious meals you can eat instead of thinking of it as having to give up something.
2. Look for substitute products for animal products you cannot resist
You don’t have to eliminate foods you love. Just substitute them. Milk, butter and eggs for instance are ingredients in so many recipes that we are used to eating. Do some research and buy substitute products. The same goes for meat. If you really love spaghetti bolognese, you don’t have to quit eating your favorite dish just because you decided to stop eating meat. There are so many delicious vegan bolognese recipes and I promise you won’t even notice that they are meatless. Try out my favorite vegan bolognese here.
3. Don’t expect substitute products to taste the same as the actual product
One mistake I see many people make is that they expect that almond milk tastes the same as cow milk. We have the idea of what milk is supposed to taste like in our head and with that expectation we drink a substitute and don’t like it. Get rid of that expectation! Almond milk is not cow milk. It is a substitute product that can be used instead of it, but this doesn’t mean it tastes the exact same. I think once you get rid of these expectations and stop making comparisons, you start to enjoy the substitute products and don’t have such a hard time giving up animal products. This takes some time.
4. Remind yourself of why you are giving up animal products/have a good reason
You need to have a good reason for yourself why you are giving up meat or animal products. You should believe in it and stand by it. Remind yourself of your motivation. Whether that means writing it down somewhere, or posting a note on your fridge. Reading articles about the benefits every once in a while helps too.
5. Focus on yourself
Don’t make this about others. This is your decision. You should not let others influence you nor should you judge others for consuming meat and animal products. Focus on your motivation and your journey. Maybe you can inspire others along the way. My brother often gives me a hard time about not eating meat and I call him out on it. Just because he chooses to eat meat does not mean that he can judge me for being Vegetarian. I respect his decision, and I expect him to respect mine.
6. Start slow
Don’t be too hard on yourself and set realistic goals. Maybe reducing meat is more realistic for you than quitting all at once. You don’t have to become a Vegan tomorrow. Give yourself time. Try a meatless meal, try to go one day without meat, one week without meat and so on. I started with one month because I have not been consuming that much meat anyway and I knew I could do it.
7. Do you research on how to get your iron, protein and calcium in
This is super important. If you are giving up meat, you need to educate yourself on how to get your iron in for example. You might feel tired and run down if you don’t, since your body is missing something. There are many different iron sources, make sure you include them in your diet.
8. Always be prepared
When going out to dinner, check the menu beforehand to see if they have Vegetarian options you like. When going to a friend’s house, you might need to bring your own food. This makes it so much easier for you. Preparation is key. Most restaurants offer at least vegetarian options. There is even a vegan whopper at Burger King now! Read my article on how to eat healthy while traveling.
9. Get rid of meat and animal products in your house
This is the same with candy and chocolate. If I don’t buy it or don’t have it at home, I don’t get tempted. After some time I don’t even think about it anymore. Before starting your journey, make sure you use up all of the animal products you want to quit and don’t buy them anymore.
10. Inspire others
This does not mean forcing your way on your friends and family. But try to inspire them, show them how easy it can be, tell them your reasoning. The more Vegetarian people in your surrounding makes it easier for you.
Let me know about your journey. Are you a Vegetarian or a Vegan? What where some challenges you had to face and do you have additional tips?
If you are still struggling with giving up meat, get inspired by my vegetarian recipes.