As with most things in life, transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle is as easy or as difficult as you make it. With a well thought out plan, it’s very easy to go veggie. If, though, you try to jump into the lifestyle with both feet and a blindfold, you’ll almost surely fail. I went full-on vegetarian about 18 years ago and have been eating my meals sans animal ever since. Here’s how I did it:
Decide What You Want to Be
When I made the decision to adopt a meatless diet, I did so by first researching vegetarianism as a whole. What I found most interesting was that being a veggie doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never eat meat again; there are different types of vegetarians.
– Pescatarians eat fish
– Flexitarians don’t necessarily eat meat at home but will eat meat at a friend’s house
– Lacto-ovo-vegetarians still consume eggs and dairy products
– Vegans do not eat meat, eggs, dairy or processed foods that contain animal-derived ingredients
I would consider myself a flexitarian. While I don’t buy or cook meat, eggs or dairy in my own home, I will, for the sake of convenience, eat these items in the homes of friends or family. Does this make me a hypocrite?
Find a Mentor
Once you’ve decided to become a vegetarian and have begun to research the topic, you’ll no doubt find several articles spouting off against the lifestyle. You’ll read that vegetarians don’t get adequate nutrition, are sickly and are all tree-hugging fruitcakes. Though there are a few tree-hugging fruitcakes, the majority of this information is misleading.
The best way to begin a vegetarian lifestyle is to find someone who you can emulate. Find a vegetarian that you know or join one of the many veggie forums and find out how they have adapted to the lifestyle. You’ll not only get great tips on becoming a vegetarian, you’ll land some great recipes as well.
My first step towards vegetarianism was to stop eating pork. The reason was very simple: I love little pigs. After about a year of not eating pork, I gave up beef. After that: chicken and so on. Eventually, I was a full-fledged vegetarian. If you’re considering going veggie, don’t go whole hog; no pun intended.
There are several ways you can start down the path to a diet with less meat. Give up bacon and sausage at breakfast for example. You could give up one meat source like I did. There is no right or wrong way to make the transition; do what is best for you.
Use Your Mobile Phone
Dining out for vegetarians can be difficult because many major restaurants have few options when it comes to meatless meals. Download a few apps to help you! VegOut and Vegan Xpress are two essential applications for those vegetarians that hang out with carnivores. Not only will you be able to pick out a vegetarian meal from a menu loaded with meat, you’ll be able to locate vegetarian-friendly restaurants on the go.
Nothing can ruin a new lifestyle more quickly than nay-saying friends and relatives. My father still forgets that I’m a vegetarian and I’ve been living almost meat-free for over a decade. On the other hand, I have great meat-eating friends that prepare special veggie fare when I come over for a dinner party. Make sure that your friends and family are at least aware of, if not fully supportive of, your new diet. Trust me: it will make things easier in the long run.
Regardless of why you are choosing this new way of life, for either moral or health reasons, it is important to go at a pace you know you are comfortable with. By making changes on a smaller scale you can really make it stick.
Author Stephanie Sanders is a communications consultant and writes for a mobile phone site in the UK.