“You became a vegetarian? Are you CRAZY?!”
L O L. Hilarious.
Really though, in the weeks leading up to my switch to vegetarianism, I didn’t think it was a crazy idea, but I thought I might actually go a little insane trying to keep it up. Eating meat for over two decades isn’t something that becomes unnatural overnight.
Yet the reasons prompting me to make the switch were important enough to encourage me to go through with it, and over a month later, I still haven’t gone crazy. In fact, I’m really enjoying it.
I have learned some tips and tricks over the past few weeks that make this way of eating simpler, so allow me to walk you through how you can go vegetarian without going crazy.
Seriously folks, if you are going to make a switch that’s as big as eliminating an entire food group from your meals, you are going to need to plan. Log on to Pinterest, get some meal ideas, go shopping, and get ready. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
BUT DON’T OVER PLAN
I had a ridiculously detailed meal plan written out for the first week of being vegetarian…and it got scratched about two seconds in. I definitely overplanned, and although it was good to have a plan in place, I ended up majorly simplifying it and not cooking an actual recipe that week. If you make things too complex, you’re not going to have something sustainable, so make sure you have a plan, but that you don’t go overboard.
The easiest way to keep things simple is create a plan revolving around things you already cook, and then simply substitute ingredients to make them meatless.
HAVE STAPLES AND GO TO ITEMS
Your body is going to be kind of confused for a while, and you’ll notice a difference in how it takes in fuel, what it needs, and how hungry you are. That being said, having staple items on hand is really helpful. Think about how to get quick fixes of protein, needed calories, or what snacks help you feel full. I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan, so I personally keep hard boiled eggs and cheese on hand.
BE PREPARED FOR EATING OUT
Going out for meals is the hardest obstacle I’ve hit thus far. The first couple of weeks were rough; I had a really hard time finding vegetarian options, and ended up freaking out and defaulting to something with meat in it when it was my turn to order.
I have learned that planning ahead is useful here too. If at all possible, try and have a hand in where you go to eat, and pick a place that has great meatless options. If that’s not possible, almost everywhere has a salad or side with no meat, and just be prepared to supplement that with snacks eaten before or after (protein bars are a great on the go option).
When traveling, pack snacks, map out places to eat, and be flexible!
HAVE A SHORT ANSWER FOR OBNOXIOUS PEOPLE
It is amazing how defensive people become of their own eating choices once you tell them you are a vegetarian. I have found that it is useful to have a fairly detail free, canned answer to tell people about why you’re a vegetarian in order to get them to shut up. Some days you might feel like walking through the whole thing and duking it out, some days you won’t.
Oh, and be prepared to shut down relentless jerks too. A simple, “I’m sorry, we are done talking because you clearly can’t grasp that this is an important personal choice that I have made,” is sufficient.
Since becoming a vegetarian, I’ve spent less money on groceries, have felt much better, and have had deep rooted and long growing convictions satisfied. It’s a great way of life, and if I could do it amid all my doubt and anxiety over the change, you can too.