The transition phase to vegetarian can be super easy for some, but the hardest for others. The biggest problem is not knowing what to eat and feeling like you can’t satisfy your hunger. My tips below will help you reach the other side with a full stomach.
Don’t try to overhaul your diet all at once
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again at the expense of sounding like a broken record. Vegetarian is not synonymous to healthy eating. Just because you went vegetarian it doesn’t mean you have to go low fat, low calorie, and gluten free. If that is your goal then by all means go for it, but take it one step at a time! Trying to do it all at once will send you running right back for a cheeseburger.
Get rid of all your meat products
Out of sight out of mind. Don’t forget the Vienna sausages in the pantry. Give everything away to family and friends or donate it. Please don’t trash it. An animal was killed, so someone might as well eat it.
This may not be possible if you have roommates or family that are not vegetarian. In which case just get rid of those products that tempt you the most.
Have some go to recipes on hand
The hardest part about going vegetarian is not knowing what to eat. This is even harder if you have no culinary skills, like me. My suggestion is to find a simple vegetarian cook book with recipes that are similar to what you already eat, or recipes with the same prep time. The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet cookbook is a great choice. Read my review here.
If you usually eat mashed potatoes and chicken breast for dinner, don’t jump into a cookbook with dishes like Parmesan Polenta Steaks with Heirloom Tomato-Corn Salad. That book will intimidate you and beat you in a staring contest! Stick to a cookbook with ingredients that you recognize. This will take a lot of pressure off you.
Keep a meal plan
Each one of your meals should be planned ahead of time. The key is to not have to think about it. If you have to think about it, you are more likely to stray. This is a new diet so it’s not like you can open the fridge and put together a quick meal. Know everything you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks.
You should continue to do this until your new diet becomes routine or until you become a little more creative in the kitchen.
Keep the ingredients for your go to recipes stocked
Try your best not to run out of any ingredients you need in order to follow your meal plan. Once you realize you’re out of something go buy it right away. Or make a note of it and buy it the next day during your lunch break. Again, the key is to not think about it. You want to avoid standing in front of your fridge or pantry thinking “ugh, should I go to the grocery store or order a pizza?” This is how straying starts!
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry
You’re not hungry for your new diet, you’re hungry for the good ol’ tasty diet. It’s hard to say no to tempting foods on an empty stomach. Grab a banana with you before you head out. Or grab a bag of chips when you get to the grocery store. Don’t forget to pay for it!
Have a support buddy
Or buddies. You should be able to call this buddy when you feel like you’re about to give up. And this buddy shouldn’t be a pushover who tells you “oh well, you know what’s best for you.” Your buddy should tell you, “you said you wanted to be a vegetarian and you’re sticking to it!” That’s a real friend!
Try to get your family’s support
It can be hard to get everyone on board, especially if you’re the one who cooks for the family. Maybe your family will join your efforts? Or maybe someone else will agree to cook while you’re transitioning?
Skip lunch with co-workers and dining out with friends
At least until you’re sure you won’t give in to temptation. It’s hard to watch your friend eating steak while you’re eating celery. If you can’t skip, then look at the menu ahead of time and know what you’re ordering before you get there.
Find someone or something that inspires you
This could be a quote, a book, a person, a pet. For me it was Doreen Virtue. Doreen is a spiritual healer with a huge following. She has been vegan since 1996 (before it became popular). She has a home in Hawaii with an animal sanctuary with everything from cats to cows. Check out her website here.
Now go raid your pantry and start picking some recipes! But don’t forget to come back here and tell us how the transition is going. 🙂
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