Many people love the idea of becoming vegetarians, but they don’t love the idea of never eating meat again. After all, some of us really love our meat, and we can’t even begin to think about giving it up completely.
You may be surprised to learn that switching to a vegetarian diet is actually a lot easier than it sounds, as long as you do it the right way and are willing to try new things. Today we are going to talk about how you can become a vegetarian, even if you really love to eat meat.
DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST
Becoming a vegetarian isn’t something that you should just do on a whim. If you are truly serious about this, it is important that you learn everything there is to know about being a vegetarian.
You need to be able to know what is myth and what is fact, what you will be able to eat, reasons why others become vegetarians, and more. There are plenty of great books at your local library, and of course, there is also loads of good literature you can find online that will answer any questions you have about becoming a vegetarian.
Remember Why You Want to Go Vegetarian
If you are really trying to go vegetarian, but you find that you are craving meat, think about why you wanted to try a vegetarian diet in the first place.
For instance, it may be because you want to improve your overall health. Or, you may love animals, and want to stop eating anything made from animals.
Whatever your reason, keep it firmly in mind, especially when you are experiencing moments of weakness. It may be the only thing that will help to keep you on track, at least in the beginning.
Try Veganism First
Instead of becoming a vegetarian right away, try being a vegan, just for a week. It is pretty difficult to restrict your diet so much, and you may find that there are a lot more options for a vegetarian than you thought.
After about a week of being on such a restricted diet, you will likely look forward to the diversity of a vegetarian diet, including being able to eat eggs, cheese, and other dairy products.
Gradually Ease into Vegetarianism
First of all, it is not a good idea to give up all meat immediately. When you give up something that you really love, it could work out for you, but it is more likely to make you want it even more, and you will end up falling off the wagon. It is a better idea to give up meat in stages. You don’t have to go vegetarian all at once.
When you do it slowly, you get more used to not eating meat, and after a while, you likely aren’t going to miss it at all. The trick is to find meat substitutes that taste great, and that give you the nutrients such as iron and protein that are in meat.
The first step in the process should be to cut back on the amount of meat that you consume. For instance, you may want to start by giving up meat one or two days per week. After a few weeks, increase it to no meat for three days a week, and so on, until you are at the point where you are not eating any meat at all.
You might be interested in trying the Meatless Monday program, which offers all kinds of delicious recipes, meal plans, cooking tips, and nutritional guidelines for creating healthy meals that do not contain any meat.
Keep in mind that some of the recipes in this program do include fish, which is technically not on a vegetarian diet. Fish can actually be a lot less healthy than meat because of mercury, PCB’s, and a variety of other toxins.
Start by Giving Up Certain Types of Meat
There are a few schools of thought on what type of meat one should give up first when transitioning to a vegetarian diet.
Some people think that the best way is to give up eating the smaller animals, such as poultry, because they tend to live in the worst environments, and these farms also contribute to the destruction of rainforests and other natural habitats.
On the other hand, there are those who believe that you should give up the meat that you like the least first.
For instance, you may love a thick juicy steak, but you aren’t as crazy about pork chops.
So, start your transition into vegetarianism by giving up pork products, including bacon and ham. Then, you can give up poultry and fish, and finally, make the full transition by giving up beef.
Believe it or not, once you have completely adopted a vegetarian diet, you may find that you don’t enjoy the taste of meat nearly as much as you once did.
Start Experimenting in the Kitchen
Now is a great time to start experimenting in the kitchen. You have so many ingredients to work with that you are never going to run out of things to try. It is a good idea to invest in a few vegetarian cookbooks, especially if you have never cooked any vegetarian foods before.
This will give you a great starting point, and then you can start experimenting from there.
You will find all kinds of delicious recipes for vegetarian versions of your favorite meals, and learn new ways to prepare fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, etc. For instance, instead of spaghetti and meat sauce, you can make spaghetti with a thick marinara sauce.
Or, instead of making beef tacos, why not fill them with beans and vegetables?
Another option is to try some of the mock meats, milks, and cheeses that you can find in most grocery stores. For instance, instead of cow’s milk, you may want to try almond or soy milk. You may also want to start experimenting with tofu. It may seem plain and boring, but it will take on the flavor of anything that you cook it with, and it tends to have a texture that is a bit like meat.
There are egg substitutes you can get that are great if you love to bake, so you don’t have to go without your favorite cakes, cookies, and other delicious baked goods.
Keep Your Cupboards Well Stocked
Because you are going to need to be creative in the kitchen, it is a good idea to make sure that your cupboards are well stocked with a lot of the ingredients that are used in many vegetarian dishes. There are many staples that should be in every vegetarian’s kitchen. Some of the most important things you should stock up on include:
Many types of nuts will provide you with the same omega-3’s as fish, including walnuts, almonds, and peanuts. Nuts are also high in fiber and protein and make a good meat replacement. You can add nuts to many dishes.
Try sprinkling your salads with walnuts or throw a few almonds of peanuts into a stir-fry.
Keep in mind that nuts are high in calories, especially if they are salted or chocolate/candy coated.
You can use soy as a meat substitute, and enjoy soy burgers, soy chicken and turkey, soy hot dogs, soy bacon, and more.
You might also want to have some soy nuts on hand, because they make an excellent snack.
Soy is high in fiber and protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. It even is known for its cancer fighting properties.
This is a soy product that comes from Indonesia. It is made from soybeans that are cooked and fermented, and then molded into patties.
These patties can be baked, deep-fried, sautéed, and steamed, and they are often used as meat and fish substitutes. Tempeh is high in calcium, protein, vitamin B12, and iron.
Another great meat substitute you should always have on hand are legumes, which include beans, lentils, and peas. Legumes are rich in folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium, and they are very high in protein.
You can do so many things with legumes, including making baked beans, adding them to salads and stir-fries, and more. You can even make delicious brownies using beans.
This type of whole wheat is whole grain, and it is often used in the same manner as rice. It can be used as a substitution for meatloaf and sausages, and it is very rich in a number of nutrients, including protein, potassium, and iron. It is also high in fiber, and a low glycemic index, and offers many more health benefits.
A lot of Italian dishes can be made using eggplant as a substitute for the meat. It is often used to create vegetarian lasagnas and other pasta dishes. For instance, instead of having chicken parmesan, you can have eggplant parmesan, which has a similar texture, a vegetarian option that has a similar texture to actual chicken. Eggplant is rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins.
This is a food that is often used as a substitute for steak and other grilled meats. Portobello mushrooms are thick, and they have a meaty texture.
They are also very juicy, and when you cook them with the right seasonings and put them on the grill, they are a lot like a tender cut of beef. They are low in cholesterol and fat, and are packed with important nutrients, including protein.
Also referred to as “wheat meat,” seitan is wheat gluten that is often used as a meat substitute. If you have an allergy to gluten, this is a meat substitute that you need to avoid.
If you are able to digest gluten, seitan is a great source of many important nutrients. The protein content in seitan can be compared to that of actual meat.
If you have decided that you are not going to eat any animal foods, including eggs, you won’t be able to enjoy mayo on your sandwiches. Never fear, because you can use hummus as a substitute.
This paste made from chick peas is a great sandwich spread, and it can also be used as a dip for vegetables, crackers, chips, etc. It is high in protein, fiber, and vitamin C.
what about dining out?
At one time, it was a real hassle for vegetarians to dine out, because there weren’t many menu options available to them. Today, more and more restaurants are offering vegetarian and vegan options on their menus, so there are very few restaurants that you can’t visit to enjoy a meal.
At the very least, most restaurants offer a variety of salad choices. There are websites you can visit that will let you know all of the vegetarian-friendly restaurants in your area.
Some of your best options are going to be Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, Indian, and Mexican restaurants, as they have a lot of meatless menu options.
If you really want a burger and fries, there are many restaurants and take-outs that offer veggie burgers, including Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday’s.
There may be times when your food is cooked on the same grill as regular meat dishes, or when the bun is not a vegan product. You don’t eat out every day, so don’t let it drive you crazy.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a delicious and varied diet without having to eat meat or other animal products. You will need to learn how to be more creative in the kitchen, but you may just find that you love cooking and experimenting with new foods.
You may not always be able to avoid all animal products, but if you are doing your best to follow a vegetarian diet, you really don’t need to worry about the odd animal ingredient in restaurant food. Remember, if you get too picky or start complaining, you are adding to the misconception that vegetarians are too demanding.