A simple guide on how to transition to vegetarianism

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A simple guide on how to transition to vegetarianism

For a lot of people, vegetarianism is something that appeals to them in theory but is difficult for them to actually make a reality. Whether you want to make the switch for ethics, health reasons or both, changing your entire approach to eating (behaviour you’ve almost unconsciously followed since birth) can be incredibly difficult.

Transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle is something that very few people can do overnight. Even if consuming meat feels morally wrong to you, you will do yourself more good by taking baby steps to make sure your transition is successful.

It’s also important that, while making the switch, you are still getting adequate nutrition so that you don’t fall behind in your health, fitness and career. You need to effectively replace the nutritional role that meat has in your lifestyle and do it in a way that’s compatible with it.

If you’re looking for a way to switch off from eating meat, you should start by finding some delicious, easy to cook vegetarian recipes. It’s even possible to find some meals that use substitutes for meat that taste so similar that you can’t even tell the difference!

With all that said, becoming a vegetarian isn’t complicated or painful when you go about it the right way. The following will outline how you can easily adopt a vegetarian lifestyle and, most importantly, stick with it!

Slowly reduce your intake of meat products

Obviously, the first step in becoming vegetarian is to start cutting meat out of your diet. As mentioned, people are rarely able to cut out meat overnight and need to go about it gradually.

Start off with easy goals, like no longer eating a certain type of meat. Start with the meat you already don’t eat much of (for example this might be pork or crustacean) and then work your way down to the more common ones like beef and chicken.

At this early stage of vegetarian living, it’s normal to have small relapses. Perhaps you’re at a dinner party and feel obligated to eat a meat dish, or maybe you just get a really strong craving for your favourite fast-food burger – these things are normal and shouldn’t be dwelled on.

Slowly substitute in more vegetables

While you’re cutting meat out of your diet, you need to be replacing it with a proportionate amount of vegetables. It’s especially important to make sure you’re including plant-based proteins so that you’re still getting the nutrition you would otherwise be getting from meat.

Start experimenting with new vegetables that you’ve never tried before. It’s easier to give up meat if you’re actively exploring new taste sensations with your vegetables as you’ll have more to look forward to.

Explore meatless substitutes

Over the years, the food industry has gotten very good at creating meatless substitutes that approximate the taste and texture of the real thing. You can easily find these options on supermarket shelves or you can simply make them yourself at home to save a bit of cash.

However, don’t entirely rely on these substitutes to get you through. Try to enjoy vegetarian food for what it is instead of trying to always replicate a meat dish.

Deciding how far you want to take it

On the path to becoming a vegetarian, many people find their own comfortable niche that works for them and their lifestyle rather than trying to stick to a strict label. For example, some people will settle into being a flexitarian who will still rarely indulge in meat while others will go further and become vegans who don’t consume any animal sourced products whatsoever.

Your reasoning for transitioning away from meat will have a lot of impact on how far you take your new diet. Ultimately, the label you adopt matters less than finding a diet that satisfies you both physically and emotionally.

How to stick to your new diet

Sometimes the challenges to your new diet will be external, rather than coming from your own temptations. For example, being at a restaurant with few vegetarian options or attending a dinner party where the host did not prepare any meatless alternatives.

In these situations, be headstrong and ask about vegetarian options (without being rude of course). You may experience some discrimination from people who don’t understand or sympathise with your decision to quit meat and it is best not to let them get under your skin.

At restaurants, don’t hesitate to ask about vegetarian options or if certain dishes can be altered to remove meat. At dinner parties you can always offer to bring your own vegetarian dish so that there isn’t as much pressure on the host to cook something just for you.

Quitting meat may start off as a challenge for you but, like anything, the longer you stick with it the easier it will become, especially as you begin to enjoy all the benefits of living as a vegetarian.