1.a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
If this post grabbed your attention, then perhaps you have thought about giving up eating meat at some point in your life. Maybe you have been giving thought to going vegetarian (or vegan; don’t worry, there’s another post for that), but you are not sure where to begin. We will not get into the health-talk right now about consuming animals, its production, and what our consumption of it does to our minds, body, spirit, and environment. We will not even get into the reasons why people stop eating meat. Instead, we’ll just keep to the point: “I want to become vegetarian, and I want to know where to begin.” Here are ten things to consider if you are thinking about going vegetarian, or if you are in the beginning of your transition already.
Have a solid foundation.
In other words, if you are only giving up meat because people around you are giving up meat, then it will be challenging to stay to it. Internal motivation is our drive, and it will keep us anchored in our commitment to live healthier. It is important to note that this in itself can be a work in progress. You may not even know your “why” in the beginning of your journey, or that reason may change. That’s OK. As long as you are working to build a foundation in who you are, which will eventually lead to a better understanding about why you are going vegetarian, then you will continue to move along your path.
One step at a time.
OK, if you are the type (and they do exist) to just cut things off cold turkey, then by all means, go ahead. For me, though, when I started my meat-less journey over a year and a half ago, I knew that I would need to try something else. I did watch a few documentaries, and I did read books that made me want to change ALL of my eating habits, immediately. I tried it. I consciously told myself that I would go without eating meat right away. I lasted about four days before having myself a chicken-something-or-another. I then had to sit back, and reevaluate my whole plan. If I was going to be serious about my health, and this lifestyle change, I would need to do it so that it worked for me. I decided to begin cutting out one thing at a time.
Start off by omitting one type of meat.
The first thing to go should be the meat that you do not really eat a lot of. The easiest thing first, so that you can celebrate your small victories. This also builds up your self-esteem, and creates room for practicing your self-discipline. If you already only eat one kind of meat (i.e. chicken only), then begin omitting it in every meal but one. The point is, start weaning yourself off, by not having as much in the first few days and weeks.
Get rid of the meat in your living space.
No, I don’t mean go throw away all of your food. I mean, decide to not even buy whatever it is that you are giving up anymore. If you still have meat in your home when you decide to transition to vegetarian, then just plan out your meals until the meat is no longer in your refrigerator. What we are doing is ensuring that we have no reasons to fall back on a meat if we decide that we can’t make it any longer. Instead of easily grabbing some chicken out of the freezer, you will either have to get creative and challenge yourself, or give in and go outside of your home just to get it.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Ever. But, especially during this process. Everyone’s journey looks different, and is different. By comparing, you are not only straying away from your “why,” but you are also filling your spirit with feelings that will turn into “you can’t really do this.” Avoid all possible feelings of inadequacy by just being. Just honor your own journey, and be sure to find support along the way. Which brings us to the next point-
Develop a support system.
This is another key to sustaining the new habits that you are creating. If you are vegetarian, and everyone else in your household is not, then it will definitely be a challenge. Not impossible (I did it), but takes extra discipline. Find at least one person who is already vegetarian/vegan, or one person who is just as dedicated to the transition as you are. Once you find that person, share your thoughts, struggles, recipes, and whatever else you need to stay encouraged.
Don’t overload your mind with information.
Research is necessary for personal growth. Period. Reading, watching, listening, discussing- these things are healthy for our minds to engage in, so that we can decide what truly is best for us. When we are learning new things, especially with the intent to apply, it is equally important to absorb what we can comprehend. Take in the amount of information that will allow you to connect, reason, and use accordingly. If we are overloading our senses with information, then we tend to get overwhelmed, and not even want to think about it at all. Easy on self, remember.
Pay attention to how you FEEL.
Knowing how your body is responding to your lifestyle change is another key. Consciousness also has to do with how we are assessing our energy, our health, and our deficiencies. Our bodies and spirit communicate with us effectively when we learn how to tune in, and listen.
Be gentle with yourself.
Forgiving. Patient. One of my favorite sayings that also applies to this journey. We are humans. We are conditioned in more ways than one to indulge in habitual acts, which make us feel comfortable. Even biologically, our bodies adjust to our habits, formed in our DNA, which becomes who we are. So, of course, we will have days that are harder than others. We will have days that we may just decide to test our newfound discipline…and fail completely.
Don’t be afraid to TRY new things.
If you get too comfortable, always eating the same foods, then it may be more difficult to stick to the lifestyle in the beginning. Discovering new foods and recipes not only adds to our sense of self- accomplishment, but it also broadens our palette. Things get more exciting, and we are able to see just how diverse the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle really is.
As an unofficial final tip, I would like to throw in: always remember to stay true to your spirit. Follow it, for it will not lead you astray. This journey should reflect many lessons about yourself that are much bigger than food. May we all keep to our journeys.
Come back in a few to see the next edition of this post, 10 Tips to Getting Started on Your Vegan Journey.
Comment below, and share some of your tips!
“How to Buy Healthy Food Without Looking at the Nutrition Label.” Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2017.