Some of my friends recently have decided to try going vegetarian or even vegan for a number of different reasons. Some of them said they are doing it to be healthier. Some of them became aware, that plant-based diet is the way forward if we want to fight climate change. And others are doing it for ethical reasons. Whatever the reason is, all in all, we know that cutting meat (and probably dairy too) is the better choice to make. However, the change and the transition come with all sorts of challenges.
When I became a vegetarian (it was nearly 10 years ago, whilst living in Ibiza), I chose to change my diet for two reasons: the first one was that I was really into yoga and yoga philosophy (yoga and vegetarian lifestyle in conjunction with each other, to me, the first yama of non violence cannot be translated any other way, to me therefore a true yogi is vegetarian). The other reason was, that I was actively involved with a local environmentalist organisation and so I’ve learnt about how meat consumption is bad for the planet. So this is how I made my decision to give up meat. It was never a struggle for me, it never felt hard. Although, I had to admit, that I never really liked meat. I felt better about it from day one, both physically and mentally. It made me stronger. I felt proud, that I can live up to my own expectations.
Find your reason
For those, who are ready to make the change, I always advice that find their reason within themselves. A conscious shift in the mind is needed to make it work. You don’t have to make a full transition – take it step by step! A night out with too much drink and a hamburger on the way home? Do not despair. Be kind to yourself. Even trying and reducing is way better than not trying at all!
But there are also practical advices to help to make the transition smoother. So I’ve collected a few from fellow vegans, vegetarians and flexatarians – you might find some of these really helpful!
20 Top Tips You Need When Going Meat Free
1 My main advice is to stop thinking immediately swapping everything for meat substitutions like veggie sausages and the likes. You will NEVER have the same experience in taste as with the meaty ones. They will just disappoint you, as the taste will be different. Having said that, I quite like some of them, but I tend look for the ones with actual veggies rather than 98% of soy.
2 Don’t think about all the things you can’t eat and instead think about all the new recipes and foods you can try! – Victoria from https://www.healthyvix.com
3 I’d say order these type of meals when out! I’ve had my eyes opened to the delicious recipes available and eat vegetarian a lot more now when out. Sarah from https://www.runjumpscrap.com
4 When I first went vegetarian (almost 30 years ago) there weren’t many meat substitutions but now there are loads! If you actually like the taste of meat then try lots of different meat free brands as one veggie sausage is very different to the next. Don’t be put off if you don’t like one type of meat free bacon, try another! Erica from www.theincidentalparent.com
5 Don’t try to just find a replacement for the meat on your plate. It doesn’t need to be a “like for like” lifestyle. There are so many exciting vegetarian and vegan recipes, be adventurous. Alice’s (www.livingwithajude.co.uk advice is similar to mine!
6 Be excited about the journey ahead it is full of good health and good food. Be proud of your new life choice, think about how you are healing the planet too. Everything about this decision is good! Becky from https://www.thrifty-home.co.uk
7 I’d say don’t worry too much about replacing meat with the meat free option. There are loads of new recipes to discover and if you try to replace bacon for vegetarian bacon, you’ll know it tastes different and you’ll just miss the ‘real’ stuff more. Rachel from https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk
8 Having been vegetarian for 20 years, I was not prepared for how difficult in would be at first to go vegan! Don’t expect alternatives to taste or cook in the same way as you are used to, for example veggie mince or vegan cheese. Laura from http://www.loopyloulaura.com/
9 Try new things. My daughter tried vegetarianism for lent this year. So I cooked all kinds of different things for her, doing my best to find some alternative sources of protein. Some things were not successful, but other things she really liked. Debbie from http://www.mumstheboss.co.uk
10 Rather than heading straight for the meat substitutes invest in a couple of good recipe books that help teach you how to enjoy vegetables and whole foods more. A personal favourite is “Much More Veg” from River Cottage as it’s not full of weird ingredients you’ve never heard of. Chermaine from chammyirl.co.uk
11 My top tip would be to be kind to yourself. If you eat the wrong thing by mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. It happens, and you will get there. Kelly from www.ourtransitionallife.com
12 Take it meal by meal. You dont have to go completely meat free to make a big difference. Only eat what you enjoy or you’ll never stick at it. Being meat free isn’t a chore unless you make it one. Ayse from www.coffeeandcwtches.com
13 Don’t just look for meat free alternatives to what you would usually eat, try to widen you food horizons and explore different cuisines that naturally use less animal products in their meals! Jennifer from https://www.mymummyspennies.com
14 Learn to cook! You’ll save a fortune, eat more healthily, and make tastier food than anything you can buy. Leta from www.attachmentmummy.com
15 If you’re going vegan, Oat milk is a must for tea drinkers. Nothing else tastes right in a cup of tea! Tina from https://www.girlsgospel.com
16 Don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to change your entire repertoire of meals. In addition to lots of new dishes you may like to try, there are also fantastic substitutes available so you can eat the same meals you always have while you’re adapting! www.refinedprose.com
17 To experiment with smoothies, not to feel like you have to justify yourself to the people who ask “why” or tell you about how much they love meat and to have fun experimenting with the new options. https://thebusypapa.com
18 To expect to feel tired for the first month, especially if it is a big change as you work out how to give your body everything it needs but it shouldn’t last any longer. https://themummyadventure.com
19 Experiment and don’t just try and find like for like (veggie mince, fake bacon, fake chicken), give lentils and pulses a try instead, and make your dinners colourful! lesbemums.com
20 Don’t just replace meat with carbs! So easy to do but isn’t good for you or helpful. Kadie from http://itskadiesworld.blogspot.com/
Do you have any tips? Please share below, and I’ll update the post with it if it’s a good one!
Also, I have lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes up on the blog, so browse them if you need inspiration:
Lazy Ratatouille (Vegan Recipe)
Vegan Thai Sweet Potato Curry With Chickpeas Recipe
Beautiful Beetroot Hummus Recipe
Creamy Turnip Dauphinoise Recipe
Italian Tortellini Soup Recipe
Seeded Banana Bread With Greek Yogurt Recipe
I agree with not swapping meat for a meat alternative. Many of these are highly processed, high in salt and sugar and over packaged so really they are a fail on both environmental and health grounds. Good, truly veggie food is amazing!
We aren’t meat free, but I make sure that the meat we do eat is from a good source. We have also cut down so much, and the we all really enjoy the vegetarian food that we do eat. I love Ottolenghi books as well for vegetarian food, he has some amazing recipes! 🙂