With restaurants becoming more accommodating to our plant-based foodie friends, being a vegetarian no longer means having to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and make a meal of your own. Not to mention, Instagram pages like anniskk lets us look to the art of creating beautiful smoothie bowls chock full of seeds, nuts, and fruit, while pages like yogaracheal make yoga seem more like a life goal; I mean it’s hard to not want to be more healthy. Coming from someone who’s been a vegetarian for the last 10 years, I’d say it’s not something you should just jump right into- here are some things you should keep in mind on your journey to Vegetarianism. Your stomach will thank you. So will your friends.
1. You need to have a gameplan: Find out what your reasons are for not eating meat and remind yourself of that in your moments of weakness. Stay focused- so when your roommate is cooking bacon, and you smell it sizzling in the pan and calling your name in the morning, you won’t be tempted to forfeit your meatless lifestyle. However, you do want to go with the flow and listen to your body (for health reasons and safety concerns) as well as staying true to yourself and doing what feels right. It won’t happen overnight, so take baby steps. Try cutting out your favorite meat first and more and more meat over time. It took me a full year to become vegetarian, I started with cutting out chicken (which was my favorite) and over the course of several months I got to where I was eating only fish, until I was ready to give up all meat in a year’s time- bacon included. There are also vegetarian brands like Tofurky, Daiya, Boca, LightLife that provide vegetarian substitutes for your favorite meats. The game has truly evolved.
2. Meals don’t always come easy: Despite the growing popularity, not every restaurant caters to the likes of vegetarians or has a special menu. So eating out with your friends can suddenly take a turn for the worst if you don’t plan ahead and make sure there’s something for you to eat (that you would enjoy.) You’ll also be hungrier more often since you’re eating a plant-based diet that your digestive system is devouring. Solution? Eat proteins: beans, protein shakes, and soy protein, are some satiating options and also makes up for the what you’re lacking since you’re no longer eating meat.
3. Your palette will change (it is an acquired taste): All those yucky vegetables you thought you would never fathom eating, just may become part of your go-to meals. After a while of cutting out the flavors of meat from your palette and consuming more fresh foods, your palette will develop and you’ll find flavor in the best of barbecued asparagus! Use this experience to explore new fruits and vegetables rather than sticking to the foods you know.
4. Focus on the bigger picture: Whatever you do, make sure your health is your main concern. Becoming vegetarian all of a sudden will have physical impacts on you, you’ll feel lighter and less lethargic after meals, but you also have to account for the lack of protein and find whole food nutritional substitutes to keep you balanced and energized. Check in with your doctor, bring up your lifestyle change and keep track of how it’s affecting your body.
Doing what’s best isn’t always what’s easiest, so stay encouraged, find some vegetarians foodies and link up for lunch, explore new vegan/ vegetarian restaurants, and see where this journey takes you. Be encouraged my friends!