You Gotta Know This: Going Vegetarian

We all been there, we all have been sucked into a vegan documentary Netflix black hole from which we have come out with one thought in mind, I will go vegan. One hour later and your broke college student self is reeling at the price of vegan food. Now, going vegan is a really big step in terms of, not only, dietary need, but also money-related. Going vegetarian doesn’t mean that to be healthier you need to spend all your paycheck on food and supplements, there’s a silver lining in all of this. A cheaper alternative and a more achievable alternative to going vegan are going vegetarian. In this list, I’ve compiled five things you need to know before going vegetarian, tips and tricks to help you transition easier.

 

1. Don’t change your diet overnight.

While you could probably go vegetarian (and even vegan) overnight it is also advisable to make the transition step by step rather than jump into something you don’t know. While this looks like the “normal” course of action in your pursuit for dietary change, going fully vegetarian overnight will just lead to failure. Trying to turn vegetarian overnight will lead for you to bounce back into meat eating, for this is better to start cutting meat out of your diet bit by bit. You might feel more comfortable setting goals for yourself, for example, during the first week you’ll be cutting out beef, during the second-week chicken, and so forth. Changing bit by bit will make sure that you’ll stick to a vegetarian diet in the long run.

 

2. What to know about buying food

As college students, we know that money can be sparse, but this doesn’t mean transitioning into a vegetarian diet is going to leave you living on the streets. While buying food is always better to go to your local market for vegetables and fruits as these places offer more veggies and fruits for a lower price point than supermarkets, this lowers the cost of a great chunk of your dietary needs. The miscellaneous stuff, such as pasta, sauce, seasoning, veggie-based meat alternatives, plant-based cheese, and milk alternatives, just to name a few, can be found in your regular supermarket. Some products to jump-start your vegetarian diet are beans, tofu, eggs, rice, frozen vegetables, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, cheese, yogurt, pasta, and oils, combine them with flavorful seasonings and you can have yourself a great dinner.

 

3. Eating out is such a hassle (not really though!).

Eating out is a big part of social life and as a vegetarian, you might feel as if eating out is a thing of the past, but it doesn’t have to be. In this day and age the vast majority of restaurants offer vegetarian options in their menu, and if they don’t have these options just create them. Talk to the waiter, many restaurants are very open to accommodating your dietary need and some waiters will even help you substitute ingredients for ones you can eat. Don’t be afraid to inform restaurants you’re a vegetarian this doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating the boring old salad.

 

4. Snacks are your saving grace.

Snacks! Who doesn’t love them? And as college students half of our time is spent eating snacks, being a vegetarian isn’t going to change that. Right off the bat most of the snacks are ok for you to eat as a vegetarian while others can strike out as a personal choice. Reading the ingredients is always recommended as processed food may contain ingredients which as a vegetarian you may not want to consume. Safe snacks for a vegetarian are hummus and pita chips, Oreos (they’re surprisingly vegan), a variety of nuts and seeds, Swedish fish (as they don’t contain gelatin), and if everything else fails, fruits are always a safe and healthy option. Here are some easy DIY snacks that you can also do: Cookie and Kate's many snack recipes, 10 Easy and Healthy Veggie Snacks, Quick and Easy Vegan Snack Ideas, and 10-Minute Vegan Snacks to Make When a Piece of Fruit Just Won't Cut It.

 

5. Dietary necessities

The most important part of becoming a vegetarian is understanding your dietary needs. As a newly converted vegetarian your new least favorite topic is going to become “where do you get your protein?”. While a vegetarian diet isn’t as restricting as a vegan diet, you will still need to pay attention to your dietary needs as it’s easy to forget about them. Young Women's health provides a more in-depth explanation as to where to find your daily nutrients, and even offers some sample recipes for you to try. Here are some really easy recipes to jumpstart your vegetarian lifestyle: Vegetarian Recipes for Students, 41 Dorm Friendly Recipes, and Easy Vegan Weeknight Recipes video presents some easy and flavorful recipes.

As we venture into a new lifestyle is important to remember to take it slow and go at your own pace.

 

Vegetarianism and veganism isn’t a race nor isn’t a competition and you don’t have to prove to anyone how vegetarian or vegan you are. The road to change is paved with many mistakes, there will be times when you’ll crave meat and there will be times when you’ll just want to quit, but what’s important is to pick yourself back up and continue on ahead. Change doesn’t come quickly and less so when you’re changing something you’ve been doing since you were practically born, don’t be down if you flake because that is normal for everyone. I hope you continue on with this journey and that at the finish line you can look back at how much you’ve changed and grown.