Have you ever wanted to be a vegetarian, but got stuck somewhere along the way?
Want to be meat-free, but not really sure where to start or how to stick with it?
It can be hugely daunting to make such a significant change in diet, yet the lifelong benefits to your health and wellbeing just might outweigh any of those reservations holding you back.
The Choice To Not Eat Meat
While the decision to not eat meat can be a confronting and challenging decision, it’s also an incredibly defining, empowering, and liberating one. Your diet, your approach to food, lifestyle, and wellbeing can all improve remarkable from this one simple choice.
You’re making a conscious decision about the food on your plate and, in many cases, acknowledging the welfare of animals raised for food. While it begins with what you don’t want to eat, this choice often opens the door to new ways of thinking on food, health eating, conscious living, and your impact on the world around you.
A vegetarian diet is a positive choice for your body, mind and soul. You are creating a pathway to a healthier, more mindful and compassionate life. Yet, making the switch to a plant-based diet can be overwhelming.
Navigating a meat-eating world, overcoming cravings and pressure from family and friends might seem intimidating and for many, simply knowing where to start and how to keep motivated are the biggest hurdles.
The very best vegetarian you can be is your own vegetarian, guided by the needs of your body and a certainty in what being vegetarian means to you. There are a few simply steps to achieving a meat-free diet on your own terms and it all begins with asking yourself some straightforward questions.
How To Become A Vegetarian
1. Establish what being vegetarian means to you
While it would be fair to say there are as many reasons people choose to be vegetarian as there are vegetarians, the very best reason is one based on your own ideals.
What is my reason for cutting out meat?
Why do I want to be a vegetarian?
Do I aim to be a strict vegetarian and cut out all animal products, or simply cut out meat?
Will I only cut out some meat and animal products and include others?
Will I still eat meat on occasion?
Defining the reason behind your choice and establishing your own set of guidelines will provide constant motivation and incentive to be the vegetarian you want to be. Allowing you to approach a meat-free diet at a pace and to an extent that’s realistic and achievable for you and your lifestyle.
There’s no need to create a diet controlled by strict limitations, especially in the very beginning. Transitioning from meat-eater to vegetarian is a journey of discovery, and it’s your ideals and awareness of the vegetarian you want to be that will keep you on track.
2. Enjoy the journey
Be a vegetarian slowly. Don’t rush to cut all the meat and animal products from your diet. Go at a pace and to an extent that fits comfortably within your own goals and guidelines.
Try not to beat yourself up if you want a steak—it takes time to discover the abundant world of vegetarian food and it’s more important to enjoy the journey than deprive yourself along the way.
Essentially, the single most important concept to grasp is that choosing to be vegetarian is much, much more than not eating meat. The very basis of vegetarian eating is a mindfulness of the food on your plate, and the best way to approach vegetarianism is to focus on what a vegetarian does eat, rather than what a vegetarian doesn’t eat.
Be open to new foods, ingredients and cooking techniques and listen to the needs of your own body and lifestyle. The world of plant-based food is vast, rich and abundant with nourishing ingredients. Embrace the journey of discovery, working your way through different grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts – let your eyes and your belly be the guide.
3. Embrace a healthy vegetarian diet
A plant-based diet offers a diverse and rich supply of nutritious ingredients and is known to contain everything your body needs to stay fit, strong, healthy, and active. The key is to eat a balance and variety of good-for-you foods and understand the individual needs of your own body and lifestyle.
Rather than simply cut the meat from your diet, aim to include a varied combination of nutrient dense fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds each day to maximize your intake of healthy and nourishing ingredients. If you have specific nutritional needs or aim to be a strict vegetarian, ask for advice. Seeking guidance from a professional nutritionist is a great idea.
It’s not complicated being a healthy vegetarian. Simply mix things up here and there, adding a few new ingredients to favorite dishes and get cooking and creating.
Look to vegetarian cookbooks and food blogs to find healthy inspiration, and keep trying, experimenting, and having fun with all the plant-based ingredients on offer.
The very best news is that vegetarian food is normal food—it’s satisfying, nutritious, and just as easy to prepare. With a little sense of adventure and lots of tasty inspiration, you’ll soon discover how easy it is to enjoy a healthy and satisfying vegetarian diet.
4. Be your own vegetarian
Becoming vegetarian goes beyond eating a meat-free diet and is far more connected with the positive influence it can have on your body, mind and soul. It takes time to discover just how far this one simple choice can take you. When you feel discouraged, pressured, or simply uninspired remember the reason behind your choice – it can be a powerful tool to keep you going.
All vegetarians are different—other than going meat-free, there is no right or wrong. Being your own vegetarian gives you freedom to enjoy the journey without having to meet the strict ideals or opinions of others.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Diets Fail
Set your own meat-free goals, directed by your motives and the needs of your body and lifestyle. Try lots of different foods, guided by what looks good to you and by adding new ingredients to familiar and favorite dishes. Seek out inspiration and dive head first into the delicious world of vegetarian food.
To be a vegetarian is to be happy and healthy. Stay true to what you want to achieve, eat well, keep positive, and enjoy the journey of discovery. With these steps in mind, you’re well on your way to being a happy and healthy vegetarian, for life.
Trudy Slabosz is the creator of vegetarian food blog Veggie Num Num and author of Going Veggie: The 30-Day Guide to Becoming a Healthy Vegetarian. A vegetarian for over 15 years she has a passion for healthy plant-based food and creating veggie meals everyone can enjoy. Trudy’s recipes and writing come from the strong belief that vegetarianism goes beyond ‘cutting out the meat’ and is far more connected with enjoying the rich and abundant world of plant-based ingredients!
Photo by jadykins2003