Going vegetarian can seem daunting to some, but change of any kind can be. Whatever reasons have led you to consider ditching meat, it is a lifestyle change. I went veggie at 17, after wanting to for many years but feeling very dependent on my meat-based diet. In my honest opinion, it was such an easy transition that I felt so silly for thinking it would ever be difficult. My entire mentality changed and I still to this day have never missed meat for even one minute. I would never eat it again and it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life, especially as it empowered me to be able to take an active stand as a consumer against an industry I despised. The change also prompted me to become healthier – learning more about what I was consuming (from sweets to sauces and drinks) and eating more vegetables and fruits. All in all, I have taken away nothing but positives from my vegetarianism. Still, I have learnt certain things that I want to share, to give you some ‘insider’ knowledge that could well make the process even smoother for you.
1) Be kind to yourself.
It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. When you first go veggie, it’s likely you could have a slip up. It may not be literally returning to meat, but you might eat something you would never imagine had meat in it and only realise afterwards. I was shocked to find meat was used in some chewing gum brands, sweets, some chocolates – even some drinks, such as wine and pop. And yes, I slipped up with a few of these things and kind of felt like kicking myself afterwards. But actually, a mistake is just that and you will learn from it. Just taking the first step and changing things bit by bit is amazing and ultimately you are doing something so important; for yourself, for the animals, and for the planet. So don’t overwhelm yourself and be kind.
2) Make sure you will get what your body needs.
If you do become vegetarian you will hear the ‘P’ word everytime someone wants to challenge your lifestyle or choice. That ‘P’ word is protein! Yes, the dreaded protein. It’s funny when you think that plenty of carnivores (myself included, when I was one) don’t get the amount of protein they need even when consuming meat, yet as a vegetarian everyone is so concerned about it! But on a serious level, protein is so important in a diet and if you don’t get enough it can lead to health issues in the short and long term. Plenty of vegetarian foods are high in protein – from soya to nuts to beans to legumes to meat alternatives and many more – and you can easily find these sources from dozens of websites online. You can also get some great protein supplements to add to your diet to make sure you are always getting that base. I am currently using Pulsin’s Unflavoured Soya Protein Powder and I do recommend it as it is vegan, gluten-free, low in sugar and carbohydrates, but high in protein and amino acids. Another thing I would really implore you to do is work out how much protein you should be taking in on a daily basis. It isn’t just a ‘one level fits all’ approach – it changes based on your sex, size, diet, goals (in terms of whether you want to lose, gain or maintain weight) and general lifestyle. Once you know this, you can easily work out how much protein is in the food you are eating and whether you are meeting your target. There are also an abundance of apps out there to help you do this too, if you’d prefer – I personally use LifeSum, which is free and so easy. Protein isn’t the only thing to bear in mind too – make sure you are getting enough iron and B12. Again, there are plenty of vitamin-rich veggie foods but getting some supplements can really help ensure you’re getting enough of all the good stuff. I take iron and B12 vitamins along with a couple of others every day so I know no matter what I eat that day my body has what it needs.
3) Don’t rely too heavily on processed foods.
Meat alternatives are great. In fact, I’m sure some of them are small gifts sent from angels they can be so delicious. However, I found that when I first made the transition I relied on them greatly. I was so conditioned to think of whatever meat I was having as the centre of the meal and vegetables as the bit on the side. And when I wasn’t having a meat substitute, my meal was totally carbs. It took me a while to really embrace vegetables and legumes as being a meal source in their own right, and I wish I had done so earlier. I still use substitutes, but much less and I feel so much healthier for it. It also helped me naturally lose weight and improved the quality of my skin, as I was choosing better food that had more natural nutrients with less saturated fat and additives that don’t do your system any good. Vegetarianism generally makes for a healthier diet, so try not to hinder this by neglecting natural, unprocessed sources of food such as the above.
4) Stand by your beliefs and reasons.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a myriad of reasons for going veggie. But whatever your own personal reasons, stand by them. Don’t let the opinions of others shake them, or make you feel silly. I was quite surprised when I made the change at just how many people challenged me over a lifestyle that had absolutely nothing to do with them. I could have understood if I was preaching all over the place, shoving my own views in their faces – but that wasn’t and isn’t how I have ever behaved. Again, asking genuine questions is another thing. Some people are really curious about things, such as why I was going vegetarian or how I would get protein in my diet. However, there were plenty of people – friends, acquaintances, even strangers – who had no interest in my reasons or how it worked. They, for whatever reason, were unsettled in some way by my choice and sought to undermine it and me along with it. Though their comments sometimes shocked or annoyed me, they never made me consider eating meat again or doubt the reasons why I was doing it. Soon enough, I learnt that when I was talking with someone who was trying to make my choice feel insignificant or even ridiculous the best way to deal with it is to let it go. Don’t try to argue them down or even waste your energy focusing on it. Identify the difference of when people are just curious and when they are trying to tear you down, and maybe consider whether those people are actually friends or people you want in your life if they are trying to make you feel bad about yourself and a great lifestyle choice. If that is what they are doing it doesn’t matter why they are doing it. But if you do want them in your life or you can’t escape them, learn to let their comments go, rise above, and have faith in your choice and the reasons behind it. You are doing something great and it does matter.
5) Be more adventurous.
Try new things! Recipes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – everything! Though plenty of meat eaters are adventurous with their food, I’m sure, when I went veggie it really propelled me to expand my diet and my meal repertoire. The amount of things that can be made from a mushroom blew my mind, for example. Don’t stick to the same old meals time and time again, because like anything – veggie or not – it becomes boring and repetitive. Life shouldn’t be like that! And neither should your food. There are so many beautiful things to try out there and embracing the vegetarian life with an inquisitive mind and adventurous mouth is a sure way to long-term success and a happy, healthy diet. Something I implement is that whenever I go food shopping I buy at least one new thing that I have never tried before, and at least once a week I do a new dish that I have never made before. It keeps things fun and interesting, and my palette and culinary accomplishments have grown more than they ever did before I was vegetarian.
If you loved this post, please drop a like and share if you can! Feel free to let me know what you thought in the comment section below, or if there is anything else you would like me to write about or expand on relating to vegetarianism – five top tips seemed like a good place to start for now! Finally, if you want content like this – as well as much more – delivered directly to your inbox then don’t forget to subscribe. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading and that these tips have or will help you make the transition to vegetarian!
2 thoughts on “Top Tips for Going Vegetarian”
Really good advice, I still rely on to much meat replacements but I’m going to pull back on that from now on. Thanks for the info.
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You’re so welcome! 😊