So you’ve decided to try out vegetarianism? Yay! At first it can seem like a daunting task and downright impossible at times. It doesn’t need to be. It’s actually super easy. I turned veggie over half my life ago now. I used to eat meat for virtually every meal and hated vegetables. Sound familiar? Here is my simple guide for you with a few nifty tricks.
Why go vegetarian?
1. The Environment
Animals eat more grain than they actually produce. This could feed more humans than the animal itself. Farmed cattle are the highest producers of methane gas. Animals take up more room to “grow” and drink a ridiculous amount of water. The list goes on.
2. Reduce Suffering
In our modern society, we do not need animals to suffer and die for us just so we can have a moment of pleasure in our mouths. It is completely unnecessary. I won’t go into the horrific ways they are raised and slaughtered but suffering is always involved.
3. Better Nutrition
Most vegetarians eat more wholegrain foods, fruit, veg and pulses and less saturated fat and added hormones (Of course it is still possible to be vegetarian eating pizza and chips).
4. Lose Weight & Reduce Nasty Diseases
This goes hand in hand with eating more nourishing foods. Many studies have proven than vegetarians are less likely to be obese than meat eaters. There are many stats and figures around but in general vegetarians are significantly less likely to get heart disease, many forms of cancer, osteoporosis and more.
5. You’ll be in Good Company
Many famous faces are vegetarian or vegan: Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Leona Lewis, Jay-Z, Avril Lavigne, Prince, Peter Dinklage, Venus Williams, Mike Tyson… I could go on (and on and on).
|Peter Dinklage representing Cruelty-Free International|
Tips to Go Vegetarian
1. Nobody is perfect. Being veggie is all about your actions and intentions rather than perfection. If you slip up or find out that something you just ate actually contained animal products, don’t worry! Don’t give up. Just because you accidental ate something with gelatin in doesn’t mean you should just quit. Dust yourself off and start again.
2. You don’t need to explain your choices to anyone unless you want to. People go vegetarian for a whole variety of reasons and it’s becoming increasingly common (Wahoo!) so don’t let people judge you for your decisions. What you do or do not eat effects nobody but yourself.
3. Being a new veggie, you probably still have animal products in your kitchen. I think meat is the worst thing to waste because then that animal died for nothing. Chucking it away won’t bring the animal back. Give them to friends and family or donate them to a local food bank.
4. The same goes for any leather/suede etc products you have. There is no point binning perfectly good shoes just because they are made from skin. Wear them until they are no good then when it’s time to buy a new pair, buy shoes made from friendly, synthetic fabrics. You’d be amazed at how many are available on the high street. This is better on your wallet and the environment. If you really don’t want to keep wearing them then fair enough, just pop them by your local charity shop. Everyone wins!
Note: If you decide to keep buying leather products, the skin is the most profitable part of a cow so it is never just a “by-product”. Most leather goods come from abroad where animal welfare is questionable to non-existent and may not even be made from a cow. It is common for leather to be made from kangaroo, dogs, cats, crocodile and multiple other animals depending on what country your product is made in. The best way to avoid this? Buy synthetic! Read more about leather here and here.
5. To save awkwardness at Christmas meals etc, let the host know that you are vegetarian. Politely remind them to check ingredients such as gravy and to make sure the roast potatoes aren’t cooked in animal fat etc.
I personally would rather be told in advance that someone had changed their diet so that I could happily accommodate them without any last minute panic.
You may also need to remind them that vegetarians do not eat fish. My mother was served salmon so explained the Vegetarian Society (and dictionary) definition of a vegetarian and now gets delicious vegetarian food at her meals instead which makes a lot of the omnivores wish they had requested the veggie meal.
6. Hate vegetables and like the taste of meat? No worries! I went veg at 13 and the only veg I ate were potatoes. Over the past 15 years my willingness to try more foods has madly increased and I thank that to being veggie. If I had continued eating meat I believe I would be seriously unhealthy now
But until the day comes when you embrace the carrot, the vegetarian and free from section of supermarkets are your best friends. Stock up on veggie burgers and fake chicken nuggets. Don’t feel bad about it either. You may not like vegetables yet but hey, a veggie burger and oven chips for dinner infinitely beats a saturated fat, bovine hormone packed beef burger and deep fried chips. Remember. Stepping stones. Little steps to the other side.
|A quick guide to Veggie protein|
7. Real friends won’t make a big issue out of your interest in vegetarian food so don’t cut yourself out and not go to restaurants with them. Nearly everywhere has veg options, even seemingly meat based restaurants. To save worry, check out their online menu beforehand. If there is nothing that takes your fancy give them a call. In my experience restaurants are more than happy to whip you up something special. They would rather cater for your personal needs than have you taking your business elsewhere.
8. You are not alone. There are so many great resources online, some of which I have added to the bottom of this post. The #cfbloggers chat on Twitter every Thursday at 9pm is full of friendly people all too willing to help you with any questions or worries. Check out my list of cruety free bloggers for more tips on leading a more ethical lifestyle.
9. If you still struggle just remember that every little helps. As much as I’d love the whole world to be vegan, f I find out my friends have stopped eating red meat but still eat white meat, great! As I keep saying, they are little steps in the right direction and I’m not going to judge or criticise them for that. Right now it might be easier in your life if you stop eating chickens. Who knows? In a few years, months or weeks you might feel ready to cut out more. 🙂
These are good points but what am I actually going to eat now?
Vegetarian = Salad right? HAHAHAHA! The simple answer is “Everything you eat.” I still eat spaghetti bolognese, sausage rolls, full English breakfasts, curry, cottage pie, burgers, pizza and roast dinners. Virtually every meat can be substituted now. Saying this though I eat a wider variety of foods than many of my omni-buddies. I love falafel, couscous and am more willing to try other foods now.
I invited my “vegetarian food is gross” friends to a house party once and used 100% meat substitute. I told nobody and didn’t eat any myself as to not raise suspicion. Guess what? They all munched into it none the wiser. At the end I told them they had eaten nothing but vegetarian food and they were all happily surprised. Sneaky, yes but a point well proved.
|Veggie burger and chips|
A few handy sources
Accidental Vegan Food (You’ll be amazed what is accidentally veggie)
The Vegan Sidekick (for when people criticise your choices)
+Photos sourced from various Pinterest pages