If you’re thinking about starting a vegetarian diet, then your first question will be where you should start.
If you’ve spent a lifetime eating meat, then suddenly going without it will be a struggle, even if you desperately want to make the change.
This is where many people go wrong with diet alterations. Although sudden changes sometimes work in the short term, they will often prove unsustainable in the long term. There is only so much change a human body can take at once, so you’re giving yourself a steep mountain to climb if you make your changes all in one go.
As a result, you are more likely to give up, or feel too confused to give your vegetarian diet any meaningful chance of success.
Instead, it is best to follow basic, easy-to-follow guidelines which can help ease you into a vegetarian diet.
Here’s what you need to know to make a vegetarian diet work for you:
1. Start eating meat substitutes
One of the most obvious challenges with transitioning to a vegetarian diet is the craving you will have for meat. This is quite understandable, even if you no longer enjoy meat like you used to or find meat-based diets morally objectionable. This is because your taste buds are attuned to certain foods, so you will find it challenging to go without meat-based meals ever again.
A great tip to overcome this problem is to eat vegetarian substitutes, like meatless chicken. While the taste can never be exactly the same, you will get as close as possible to your previous diet without needing to eat meat.
For example, if you love burgers, you can still eat them, only with meatless chicken, or a spaghetti with substitute beef.
Making your new diet as similar to your old one will make it far easier for you to commit to your vegetarianism long term.
2. Don’t go cold turkey, start with the basics
It has already been established that starting a whole new lifestyle is made harder when you attempt to change your life overnight. It might feel like a novelty at first, but you will quickly become worn down by incessant temptations. The likely result will be the failure of your new diet.
While eating vegetarian meat substitutes is a great start, you could expand upon this approach if you’re finding meat-eating hard to beat.
You could start your diet by only cutting out certain meats that you rarely eat, and see how well you fare. If you succeed at this for a few weeks, go one step further by cutting out another type of meat. Continue with this until you have gone completely vegetarian. By doing it slowly, you stand much more of a chance of remaining vegetarian for the long term.
3. You should do it for the right reasons
Another way to ensure you can make a vegetarian diet work successfully for you is to do it for the right reasons. This is because lifestyle changes – whether an increased work rate or diet change – are largely defined by the mindset behind them.
If you have deep-seated emotional motivation behind going vegetarian, then you are more likely to stay disciplined in the long run. If instead, you are only doing it to please your friends or because it seems like a fashionable trend at the moment, then you will probably fail at the first hurdle.
Therefore, think long and hard about why you’re turning vegetarian. It will define whether you can make the diet work for you.