As you may know we’ve both been vegetarian for quite a few years now. And even though we don’t claim to be experts, we’ve compiled a few of the tips and tricks that helped us through our transitions to vegetarianism.Whether you’re already a vegetarian or you are looking into the lifestyle, we guarantee these tips will be useful to you.
- Educate yourself. There is a common misconception that any person eating a plant based diet is at greater risk of developing deficiencies. However, this is inaccurate. I definitely recommend that you research into the subject for further details but from the research I have done myself, I have found that it is not necessary that you take supplements for every vitamin and mineral out there. Once you eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes, you will inevitably be a healthy vegetarian.
- Transition Slowly. If you can, I’d strongly recommend weaning yourself off meat like I did. Quitting cold (veggie) turkey makes it easier for your willpower to falter and for you to miss meat. Start off by adding one veggie day per week and slowly increase until your body and tastes are used to this new diet. This way you’re not throwing yourself into something new.
- Don’t put a label on it. If you aren’t up for the commitment just yet, try the lifestyle without the label of ‘vegetarian’. This may take some of the pressure off you and make the transition into the lifestyle easier.
- Read the labels. There are certain food items that may contain ingredients such as gelatin, which is not vegetarian. You may be unaware of this so until you are familiar with what foods you can and can’t eat, I suggest you read the list of ingredients on all items carefully.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. In reference to the previous tip, you WILL make mistakes. You may accidentally eat an item that is not vegetarian and may feel as though you have failed. I have been there. Don’t be too hard on yourself, especially in the beginning period of your transition. Simply take note of the item and be aware that it is not vegetarian.
- Remember the protein. So many people say that they just gain too much weight when they’re vegetarian. This tends to be because we try to just eat more carbs to fill the lack of meat. Instead, try different vegetarian protein options to replace the meat in your diet instead of packing on the carbs. Its important to remember to keep the same balance of protein, veggies and carbs even without meat.
- Meal plan your first few weeks. If you are venturing into the lifestyle, I recommend that you meal plan for at least your first week. When you’re new to the lifestyle, it is easy to become discouraged and give up if you can’t source food as conveniently and easily as you used to. Vegetarian food is not hard to find or make, however, it may be overwhelming to a newbie. I suggest looking for recipes on Pinterest (that’s where I find most of mine).
- Stick with what you’re used to eating. When jumping into a vegetarian lifestyle, it may be overwhelming and hard to find recipes that you like as you are accustomed to eating a meat with most meals. I experienced this myself. Don’t feel as though you need to change the way that you eat completely. You simply need to alter it. With that being said, I do still recommend that you try new fruits and vegetables in order to give yourself a wider variety of food options.
- Explore a bit. While it’s important to maintain some normalcy in your diet, you’re gonna have to add some new components such as tofu and quinoa and other vegetarian staples. While change can be daunting, you can have some fun with this, trying new foods and recipes and even attempting to recreate veggie versions of your favorite meat dishes.
- Stay motivated. Don’t expect everyone to embrace your new diet or to understand why you made the change. It may be hard at first, not having the support of your close friends and family but with time they will learn to accept it or at least to understand that it as your choice.
- It’s okay to eat more. When you become vegetarian you develop a faster metabolism meaning that you may get hungry quicker than you would’ve while eating an omnivorous diet. Don’t be afraid to eat larger portions or to eat more meals than you are accustomed to. Give your body what it needs by eating as much as it requires.
- Don’t give up! You may be discouraged by the negativity and/or disapproval of those around you and may feel like reverting to your old diet. However, I assure you that if you persevere and make the conscious effort for the first few weeks, you will grow to love the diet, the food and the way that it makes you feel.
If you are vegetarian and have tips of your own then be sure to comment them!
-Mikayla and Megan