Making the Transition to Vegetarianism the Easy Way
[from COK's Vegetarian Starter Guide]
Each of us deals with change differently.
Some go all out and never look back. Others like the slow and steady approach, making incremental changes while keeping sight of the final goal. Zig-zaggers take a few steps forward, another one back, one off to the side, and a couple more straight ahead. And then there are those who work themselves into a frenzy and feel paralyzed by the thought of changing old habits. If youre one of the above or somewhere in between, try these easy steps to becoming vegetarian, making the transition fun and painless.
1. Be vegetarian three days a week for the first two weeks.
Substitute a couple of ingredients in your favorite dishes to make them animal-free. Cant get enough spaghetti with meat sauce? Smother your preferred pasta with tangy marinara and throw on some sautéed garlic, mushrooms, or peppers for an extra kick. Are you a chocoholic? Fear not! Try some of the decadent dessert recipes to satisfy even the sweetest tooth or pick up a scrumptious Tropical Source candy bar. Love beef tacos? Swap the ground beef with Textured Vedgetable Protein (TVP) or meatless crumbles and spoon on a dollop of guacamole instead of sour cream. Toss on chopped veggies like greens, onions, and tomatoes, and voila! Youve got a delicious treat just waiting for you to take that first bite. Making simple substitutions in your favorite recipes is an easy way to get used to eating vegetarian food. Check out our meat and dairy substitutes page.
2. Now try five days a week for another two weeks.
Add a couple more days of compassionate eating so youre a five-times-a-week vegetarian for two weeks. Check out your local grocerys natural foods section or stroll through the neighborhood health food store. Pick up some new-to-you vegetarian products and get creative in the kitchen. Need help finding a tasty recipe to go with the ingredient or product? Check out our recipes page, or visit COKs VegRecipes.org for thousands of free, savory recipes! If you prefer eating out, visit your favorite hang-out and order a vegetarian dish (click here for some dining out tips) or check out a vegetarian-friendly restaurant and sample something new. Would you rather whip up your own culinary masterpiece? Invite over an open-minded, enthusiastic dinner companion and enjoy your own home-cooked meal.
3. So, youve been a near-vegetarian for a whole month.
Congratulations! By rounding out your week with two more vegetarian days, youve made it! Give yourself a pat on the back! Youre making wonderfully positive changes not only for yourself and the environment, but for the animals, too.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
As you move towards becoming vegetarian, try not to be hard on yourself if it takes some time. Remember that for every animal-friendly choice you make, youre having a profound and positive influence on the lives of animals raised for food, your own health, and the environment.
Being vegetarian isnt about being pure. An all-or-nothing approach may be daunting or lead to short spurts of animal-friendly living instead of long-lasting dietary change. By keeping your eye on the prizereducing the amount of harm done to animalsyou can gradually adjust your diet for a smooth transition.
Dont forget to congratulate yourself for each vegetarian meal you enjoy! Even if you start out being a part-time vegetarian, youre already responsible for vastly more compassion in the world. As long as you keep moving in the right direction, youll get there at the pace best for you.
So, be good to yourself and let us know if we can help along the way!