Transitioning to vegetarianism is a significant lifestyle change, and as with most other lifestyle changes it comes with its own set of challenges. Of course, in the first few months there’s a chance you may make a few mistakes, and that isn’t the end of the world as you are still adapting and finding out what works best for you. Whatever your reasons for going vegetarian, whether they be ethical, health related, or environmental, I am sure you will find some of the following tips useful for when you first jump on the band wagon! So, without further ado, let me begin.
1. Don’t go vegetarian overnight.
Whereas some people can make the change to veggie or vegan automatically, others take a lot longer to make the transition. But the way I see it, you wouldn’t sign up for a marathon and run it the next day, would you? It’s all about finding what works best for you. By going vegetarian overnight your body is going to have a big shock. For many, this may be an unrealistic goal and therefore it may be better to set yourself mini goals for each week. For example, one week you may cut out anything that is derived from a cow. In my case, I went vegetarian over the course of the summer holidays.
2. Prepare yourself for critical debates.
From my experience, it appears when anybody makes the switch to vegetarian or vegan everybody else seems to become a nutritionist. Aside from caring grandparents wondering if you will get enough protein, you must make sure you are ready for the interrogation which will inevitably arise at family dinner parties and meals out. “It can’t be healthy to have such a low protein intake,” says one expert, whilst tucking into a Big Mac. But soon enough, people will accept the fact that you have decided to make the switch.
3. Do your research.
If you are still at the stage where you are considering going vegetarian you may want to do some research into the meat industry to find out more about where your meat actually comes from. There are many documentaries available such as Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and Earthlings which have resulted in people making the decision to go vegetarian on the spot. Aside from this, there are many articles available on the web to find out all sorts of things, such as how going vegetarian will lead to health benefits. Finding out more about what you are doing and the reason behind it will help you stay motivated.
4. Join a community.
When I transitioned to veggie I didn’t know any other vegetarians or vegans, and looking back I think it would have been nice to have somebody to share a common value with. Perhaps you could see if any of your friends want to make the change with you, and this again will help you stay motivated. Nowadays there are many online communities which you can turn to if you want advice or want to talk with likeminded people. You could add yourself into some Facebook groups. Additionally, a lot of universities have societies for vegetarians and/or vegans.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
It’s great that you are deciding to move towards a far more ethical lifestyle that also has many benefits for your health and the environment. Bear in mind that it is a learning process and it’s okay to have the occasional accidental slip – up. For example, some people may not expect that some of the silver balls you decorate cakes with contain fish gelatine.
So those are our tips for making the initial transition from eating meat to vegetarianism. There are many more things that I could have said but a lot of it is trial and error! Aside from the above, my main piece of advice would be to embrace your new challenge and to take each day as it comes!