It is always a good day, when someone seeks my expertise to go vegetarian. I rather give out vegetarian tips than diet tips. I’m not into diets, I broke up with them a few years ago.
Because Diets Suck! And they leave nothing but disappointment and tears. In fact, since giving up dieting and focusing on lifestyle, I feel my best ever. I’m not on a diet. I’m not counting calories. I don’t worry about my fat intake and I don’t beat myself up for eating “bad” food.
I just don’t have time to keep shaming myself anymore.
Embracing a plant-based lifestyle has worked wonders for me. I gave up meat in 2018 and I haven’t looked back since. For me, vegetarianism is the best. It is easy, it’s accessible, and there are tons of health benefits.
Oftentimes veganism overshadows the plant-based movement, but there are other options to take if you want to be healthy and reduce your imprint on the environment.
If you are considering giving up meat, I have some tips that are going to help make the vegetarian transition smooth and easy. Check out these tips below!
Table of Contents
Tip 1: Do the Research
Before you begin any diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietician. Believe it or not, meat-free diets don’t work for everyone. To avoid any health issues, book an appointment for a physical and talk with your doctor about changing or modifying your diet. From there, your doctor will be able to tell whether or not they think this will be beneficial to your health. Remember, vegetarianism should add value to your life, not restrict it.
Next, do some research on meat-free diets and plant based eating. I suggest that you stick with websites that are unbiased and beginner friendly.
Here are some resources that will help you with your research!
Vegetarian Society. https://vegsoc.org/info-hub/definition/
No meat athlete https://www.nomeatathlete.com/relax-2/
Now that you have read up vegetarianism. Now it is time to join some vegetarian groups online. You can find vegetarian friendly groups on Facebook, Linkedin, and online forums. If you have vegetarians who are friends, talk to them about their experience and their difficulties with going meatless. I found that my friends were able to give me more insight than online research.
Tip 2: Start Slowly
I wouldn’t suggest you go cold turkey. Cravings are real and I don’t want them to be so intense that you break down and eat a burger. This should be a gradual progression. Some people are able to make the leap, but I found that when they did they wanted to go back to meat soon. Take it slow, Rome wasn’t built in a day now. Give this lifestyle a chance.
Tip 3: Give Up the Bacon
I know the obsession with bacon. It is sweet. Smoky. Fat. And delicious, but it is notoriously unhealthy for you. It is difficult to give it up but you can do it, you gotta be persistent. Pork was the first meat I gave up and it was the hardest to give up. The good news is that you can substitute red meat or poultry for any pork product.
TIp 4: Goodbye Red Meat
After you have given up pork, now it is time to give up the beef! Your doctor and the environment will thank you! Poultry will be your new substitute for red meat!
When you are in this stage, you will notice a few things are harder to give up than others. Give yourself 30- 90 days each time you take out a specific meat-food group. You want your body and your taste buds to get accustomed to the change. Once you have been eating poultry for a while, then it is time to experience Meatless Mondays!
Meatless Mondays literally saved me life and made me go back to my roots in the kitchen!
Tip 5: Spice it up
Channel your inner chef! You will notice that poultry and vegetables will need more seasonings. Get into the kitchen. If you don’t know what that is, it is the place where the oven lives. The secret to making vegetarian dishes taste incredible is herbs and spices. Spice it up! Sidenote, if you have never watched the Food Network of Cooking Channel, it is waiting for you.
If you are not sure what spices or seasonings to add to your food, buy seasoning blends. Not only do seasoning blends taste fantastic, they will tell you exactly what food to use it for. I get all my seasoning blends from Trader Joe’s.
Try different foods
If you aren’t into cooking, then go out! Find different foods and restaurants that are vegetarian and vegan friendly. This is where your love for the vegetarian lifestyle will blossom and you may find that your waist and wallet will show you gratitude.
Let’s talk about tofu real quick
At this stage in the game, I would advise everyone to begin experimenting with tofu, tempeh, and soy products. Tofu really gets a bad rap, but once you learn how to cook and season it, it will taste similar to chicken. If you don’t like the texture of tofu, there are other meat substitutes that will provide the chewy texture of meat.
Meat Substitutes that provide chewy texture:
Baby bella mushrooms
Meat- free crumbles
Meatless ‘meat’ brands:
Sweet Earth Natural Fields
I will talk about meat substitutes in tip #7
Tip 6: Go Pescetarian
Once you have mastered the last tip, your next step is to replace poultry with fish and seafood. If you don’t like fish, you can fly by this tip, but, before you do, consider this: taking poultry out of your diet is going to be difficult without a replacement. I don’t recommend skipping this step, because beginners will replace the poultry with a ton of processed soy products! Processed food is not the end goal. The end goal of any healthy lifestyle is to eat more whole food.
Tip 7: Don’t Depend on Meat SUBSTITUTES
I cannot stress this enough! Meat substitutes are highly processed and not good for you! I know we love our new food creations like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, but those are fun foods, not whole foods!
When consuming meat substitutes, be careful with highly processed soy and pea proteins. Healthy meat substitutes are ones made with whole lentils, beans, and veggies. Look at the ingredients. I do eat meat substitutes now and then to halt my cravings, but I try not to eat meat substitutes more than 2x a week.
Tip 8: Eat Whole Foods
Whole plant-based foods are your best bet to thrive on a vegetarian diet. I fill up on eggplant, firm organic tofu, rice, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and potatoes.These foods are the whole foods that make me full. I also add different vegetables together to get the nutrition I need. When I am really hungry, I will eat low-sugar dairy and whole eggs.
Tip 9: UP Your Veggies and Fruit Intake
You can never go wrong with adding more vegetables to your diet. My number one tip for anyone is to eat something green once a day. I don’t care if that green is a smoothie or a bowl of raw kale. Eating fresh produce is good for you and your mood.
Tip #10 Meal plan
I personally don’t do meal planning. I find that a bit boring, but I think meal planning has its day. When I was working at a desk job, I would dedicate a day to grocery shopping and one day to meal planning/prepping. I don’t work in an office anymore, so I skipped this step. If you do work in an office, meal planning is going to save you time and money!
Cook a big meal on your day off and section it off and tupperware it up. Also add your drink, a snack, and piece of fruit to every meal and you are good to go!
Tip #11: Invest in your health
Remember when I said the internet and the library were home to the best free information? I wasn’t lying, but in order for you to reap the benefits, you MUST INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH.
Technically, you don’t have a book about vegetarianism, but I think a book solidifies everything. If you do buy a book, your best bet is to buy a cookbook or an ebook about vegetarian recipes. My favorite vegetarian/vegan cookbook is Thug Kitchen.
Be open and be receptive. Your journey will be unique. There is so much information about the vegetarian lifestyle, make yourself available to it, and absorb. Buy in.