I haven’t always been a vegetarian. I grew up eating a standard American diet at home that even included hunting and fishing. Meat wasn’t really something I loved eating I just ate it because that’s what was served to us. One night I remember staring down a thick burger one night not wanting to eat it.
Fast forward into my twenties I dabbled in removing red meat from my diet out of the lack of interest and compassion towards animals pulling on me. I didn’t stick to it. I would last a while and then a meatball sub would pull me back. At the time I didn’t have very good cooking skills and struggled to replace the meat in my diet with good choices.
In my early thirties, I had a turning point that changed my life. I went for walks every evening on a beautiful country road in Maine. I would walk past this small farm every day. They had three cows and knew that they were being raised for meat. Every day when I walked past the field one of the cows would come running to the fence when it saw me. Because of that cow, I stopped eating red meat.
Throughout the next year or so I gradually eliminated other animal products. At this point, I’ve been a vegetarian for over ten years. I’ve learned and experienced a lot in that time frame.
It can be difficult to transition from an omnivore diet to more of a vegetarian diet. Especially if you’ve been eating meat for many years. There are things you can do to help with that transition. I’m sharing my top ten tips on how to become a vegetarian for beginners.
How To Become A Vegetarian for Beginners – Top Ten Tips
Tip # 1 It Gets Easier As Time Goes On
It’s kind of like when you are learning to ride a bike. When you first start it’s hard and you have to think about your every move. As time goes on it gets so easy you don’t even think about it anymore. After ten years, I can remember how hard it was at first. Going to my first Thanksgiving, traveling, and restaurants were all a new challenge. Now, It’s completely second nature. I can’t even imagine consuming meat at this point.
Tip # 2 Know You Why
Whatever your reasons are for wanting to become a vegetarian or just to consume fewer animal projects it’s helpful to know your why. When you are introduced to a challenging situation knowing your why and reminding yourself of that helps you keep your focus on the changes you want to make.
Tip # 3 It Doesn’t Need to Be 100%
I think making a change cold turkey (no pun intended) can be one of the hardest things to do. For some people that may be the perfect way for them but, It doesn’t need to be 100% right away. I personally eliminated red meat first, then cut out chicken and turkey. A year or so later I eliminated fish. I’ve dabbled with removing eggs and dairy products but, have discovered I do better consuming eggs and some dairy.
Everyone has their own journey. My husband made the choice to reduce animal products in his own time and way. He eliminated chicken first, then red meat. Bacon was his one and one hold out item for years. He loved bacon! The smell still pulls him in.
Tip # 4 Keep It Simple
I think as humans we tend to want to go out and try all new foods and recipes when we are making a diet change. We get excited to make that change and can overwhelm ourselves with our good intentions. My advice is to not go and replace all your favorite meals with something new. You can try new things but, don’t make every day something new. You will get burnt out.
Make a list of your favorite foods and meals that are already vegetarian. Make another list of meals that could be easily converted to a vegetarian meal if the meat is left out of the recipe. These foods and meals should become the base of your diet during the beginning.
Bonus: Later in this post, I’ll give you a list of my favorite go-to simple meals for beginners.
Tip # 5 Where Will You Get Your Protein From?
One of the questions you will receive the most, especially in the beginning from people is “where will you get your protein from?”. In the beginning, it’s easy to load up on carbs when you are eliminating meat. I personally need to make sure I have protein and fat with each meal or I end up being hungry within an hour.
It’s a myth that it’s hard for vegetarians to get enough protein. It’s actually very easy. You can go on google and enter your body size information into calculators that will provide you with your answer of how much protein you need per day. For someone my size, I need around 40 grams per day.
I can get 40 grams of protein per day by having two scoops of protein powder in my morning smoothie, two eggs with lunch, and a quarter cup of tofu with dinner.
My advice for you would be to find out how much protein you need each day, then find a handful of good protein sources that you enjoy eating and scatter them throughout the day.
Tip # 6 Vitamin B12 Supplementation
My next tip is to talk to your doctor or look into supplementing with B12. Although eating a vegetarian diet is full of vitamins and minerals it’s generally lacking in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is very important to promote the health of your nervous system and can become serious if you become deficient. The easiest way to remedy this is to take a B12 Supplement.
Tip # 7 Offer To Bring A Dish To Gatherings
Earlier I mentioned how difficult It can be going to that first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. My advice for this situation is to offer to bring a vegetarian dish to those gatherings with family and friends where food is being served. This makes it easier for you to know you have something to eat. I’ve also discovered that people get excited to try something new. Have fun with it.
Tip # 8 Pizza And Tacos!
It can be the toughest to go out to eat at restaurants. Sometimes the vegetarian options are very limited. You can’t go wrong with Pizza and Tacos. Who doesn’t love a good cheese or veggie-loaded pizza? Don’t forget about delicious spicy and creamy tacos or burritos. Now I’m hungry! There are always many vegetarian options at restaurants that serve Pizza and Tacos.
Pizza and Tacos are outgoing to restaurant choices.
Tip # 9 Plan Your Meals
Refer back to your lists of favorite vegetarian meals and make a meal plan for the next couple of days or the week ahead. It’s so much easier to stick with something when it’s well planned out in advance.
Tip # 10 Just Keep Swimming
Sometimes the best advice in life can come from Disney Characters (on another note, is it me or are Disney movies scary? parents dying, scary villains, etc.). How can we not love Dory though? Her positive attitude and moto in life to “Just Keep Swimming” is something we can all reflect on and bring into our lives.
All the mentions of how difficult it can be to make lifestyle changes can feel daunting. Just remember Dory’s moto and just take it one meal at a time. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a choice along the way that doesn’t align with your goals. Just keep swimming and make a different choice for your next meal.
Bonus: Simple Vegetarian Meals
I mentioned earlier that I would give you a list of my favorite go-to simple vegetarian meals for beginners.
- Pasta with marinara
- Stuffed Shells
- Pasta with olive oil, garlic, and butter
- Pasta primavera
- Taco bowls
- Taco Salad
Beans And Potatos
- Baked Beans with potato salad
- Chili Beans with baked potatoes
- Bean Salad with roasted cubed potatoes
Add a side vegetable or salad and some fruit for a great meal!
I would love to know which tip you find the most helpful?