*Note: I consider seafood to be meat, so any references to “meat” in this article include seafood
Image source: Gourmet Traveller
I officially (via Facebook status) married the vegetarian lifestyle in October 2015 and am 100% satisfied with that decision, but I must admit that this happened unexpectedly. Unlike some of my carnivorous friends, I rarely craved meat and only liked chicken, turkey, and seafood. I ate meat once every few days and did not miss it on my vegetarian days. After a few months of this eating pattern, I realized that consuming meat was not necessary for me to be strong and healthy and I decided to commit to vegetarianism for the rest of my life. In case you’re wondering how I’m doing, I can honestly say that the only type of meat I miss sometimes is seafood, but luckily vegan crab cakes exist.
As you can see, converting to vegetarianism was a gradual process for me, albeit unintentional, and I strongly believe that this is a large part of the reason that I was able to adhere to this diet with ease. An all-or-nothing approach certainly seems to work well for someone who plans to abstain from meat for a week or two, maybe as part of a challenge or cleanse, but in my opinion, the conversion has to happen gradually for someone who plans to adopt vegetarianism as a new lifestyle.
Of course, I haven’t lived long enough to be able to say for sure that my method works perfectly for a lifetime, but I can say that it’s at least a good start.
If you’re serious about vegetarianism, here’s how I would advise you to part with meat for (possibly) forever:
1. Ask yourself “why?”
This is a question that you’ll be asked A LOT after telling people that you’re a vegetarian, so you should know how to answer it. Any reason is a good reason as long as it is your reason and you’re content with it.
2. Omit one type of meat from your diet, gradually omitting more and more
The exact timeline of this part of the process will depend on how much you love eating meat and on how much you love certain types of it. It will be easier to first omit your least favorite type of meat, gradually working up to omitting your favorite one. The goal here is to eliminate cravings for the meat that you love- it turns out that we only crave things that we eat regularly! This process may take weeks or months and will be extremely difficult in the beginning, but will become easier over time.
3. Omit meat for one meal or day per week, gradually increasing that “meatless” gap
You can combine this step with step 2 if that's easier for you. Just like with step 2, the exact timeline of this step will depend on how much you love eating meat. If you religiously eat meat during every meal, try omitting it for one meal per week. If you eat meat every day, try omitting it for one day per week- some of my friends like to do “Meatless Monday”! The goal is to try to get your body accustomed to getting the protein and iron that meat provides from other sources, such as meat substitutes, vegetables, and legumes (extensive lists of protein and iron sources can be found here and here).
4. Announce your conversion
Your family and friends might either misunderstand or disapprove of your decision to switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, but letting them know that you’re serious about it and gently reminding them when they forget will prevent them from continuously tempting you to eat meat, which will make it easier for you to avoid it.
5. Optional: Don’t go out to eat when you’re starving
Depending on how difficult it is for you to avoid eating meat, you might like to eat a snack or a small salad before going out to eat with others, so that you won’t be tempted to order a big hunk of steak.
This transition might take a long time, but I think Aesop was onto something when he said...
Image source: donhowesuccess
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