As I mentioned last week in How to Become a Vegetarian, a big diet/lifestyle change is not easy. If you are trying to eat less meat, or are making the commitment to be a vegetarian, these tips might help.
- Visit a farm or animal sanctuary – If you crave meat, visit some local cows or piglets. Really look at them and see how they interact with you. Fall in love with a furry friend, and you might not want to eat it.
- Don’t expect everyone to embrace your new diet – I haven’t eaten meat in several years, but my family and most of my friends still do. Big change is scary and can be uncomfortable. Not everyone wants to “go there”.
- Read about CAFOs – Educate yourself about how meat is put on the table.
- Watch the Earthlings movie or trailer if you can get through it – If shock and awe inspires you to make changes, watch this movie.
- Have compassion – Extend the same kindness you have for animals, to yourself…especially if you slip.
- Don’t be a junk food vegetarian – Just because potato chips are vegetarian doesn’t mean they should be a staple of your new diet.
- Try new fruits and veggies – Add some new flair to your apples and bananas. Don’t overlook certain produce because you’ve never had it before.
- Choose wisely – Eat by color, not by calorie.
- Don’t over do it on the soy – There are so many substitutes for meat on the market, but start with fruits, veggies and whole grains. Veggie burgers, hot dogs and other soy based substitutes should supplement your diet, not be the foundation.
- Take a vegetarian cooking class – I am taking one next week and can’t wait to learn to cook something new and meet like minded veggie chefs.
- Don’t expect a veggie burger to taste just like a meat burger – “It tastes just like…” is a running joke in my house. Appreciate the new flavor and textures of your vegetarian diet and don’t constantly compare to meat.
- Buy local produce – visit farms, and farmers markets or consider buying a farm share through CSA.
- Buy organic produce – especially if it’s on this list.
- Grow your own – plant a garden or just a few herbs and veggies if you don’t have the space or time for big garden.
- Eat what’s in season – It’s less expensive and the flavor and aroma of a fresh tomato is worth the wait.
- Bring wilted veggies back to life – Soak wilted greens, carrots or celery in cold water for 20 minutes to bring the crunch back.
- Be offended – 90,000 cows and calves are slaughtered every day, just in the U.S. and 14,000 chickens are killed in the United States every minute.
- Remember meat doesn’t equal muscle – There are vegetarian body builders and ultra runners (check out Matt’s story at No Meat Athlete) . Even gorillas are vegetarian!
- Make soup – Blend and heat up two tomatoes, 1/4 onion, a carrot, veggie bouillon cube and a little pepper.
- Make juice – If you have a juicer, try a handful of rainbow chard, 1/2 cucumber, 1 lemon (with rind), 5 or 6 stalks of celery and 1/2 of an apple.
- Read books that support your new diet – See five of my favs below.
- Recognize that fish have feelings too – I ate fish long after I gave up chicken and beef but finally decided that I couldn’t eat anything that has a mom.
- Appreciate the health benefits of giving up meat – Have a check up and your cholesterol checked when you give up meat and then again 6 months later.
- Dine out – Most restaurants have vegetarian options, but check out a local vegan restaurant for some unique menu items.
- Look forward to more energy – It can take your body three days to digest meat. There is a lot of energy required to get a steak through your system. Now that you are eating a lighter, kinder diet, your energy levels will soar!
Books to support your vegetarian lifestyle
The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet
The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism