Growing up, I was never what would be considered a fussy eater; I was just never a huge fan of meat, especially red meat. Transitioning into vegetarianism was therefore a natural progression for me. For my family however it was a lot more traumatic, as I come from a long line of butchers. In a family of meat-eaters, it now means that at family functions a bit more thought has to be go into the menu so as not to exclude me.
Vegetarianism is a lifestyle, which encompasses varying levels of abstaining from meat and its associated products. The levels include: flexitarian, pesetarian, lacto/ovo vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan and macrobiotic. Meat fasting however, is fast becoming a trend with the likes of Jay Z and Beyoncé taking on the 22 day vegan diet challenge.
There are a host of reasons, medical, ethical or otherwise for overhauling your diet and ditching meat, but at the end of the day, it has to be a personal decision, and commitment to endure the long haul. Here are a few tips to consider when becoming vegetarian.
- Decide on the reason you want to make the change. If you’re not clear in your head why, them your resolve can easily be swayed.
- Sign up to a vegetarian society. Get access to a community wealth of knowledge, instant support and advice while you make the transition.
- Cold turkey or not? For some people, cold turkey works, but for the majority, slowing reducing meat consumption provides better longer lasting results without instantly feeling deprived. Try dedicating a day of the week to the change. For inspiration check out MeatfreeMondays!
- Read labels. Animal fats and flavouring appear abundantly in processed food. Get to know their names and read labels to make sure you are truly sticking to your lifestyle.
- Strive for a balanced diet. Revise the way you look at food and don’t automatically associate meat with protein. There are numerous plant alternatives.
- Supplements: Initially it can be harder to get the proper balance for vitamins in your diet, so don’t be afraid to use supplements. Boost your vitamin intake.
- Consider meat substitutes. Meatfree alternatives are no longer exclusive to specialist supermarkets. Most are readily available so get to know the names (quorn, soy, tofu..etc) and give it a try.
- Experiment. Buy yourself a vegetarian cookbook, look up local eateries and try out different dishes. You might just be surprised at how good it all tastes that you wont miss meat.
- Share the news. Tell family and friends of your planned changes. You may get a few naysayers, but you may also get company along your journey.
- Don’t be afraid to try. You may find out it’s not for you, but there certainly is no harm in trying.