Around two months ago, I finally decided to switch to a vegetarian diet. I’ve spoken several times about all sorts of health issues I’ve had and, that, coupled with plenty of research and self-education into the animal industry, pushed me to cut meat from my diet. (Since becoming a vegetarian back in the very first week of June, I’ve eaten a small amount of fish to top up those oils.) Conscious eating ahoy.
I’m not here to preach to you the benefits of vegetarianism or the evils of the meat industry - your diet is of course incredibly personal - but if you’ve been weighing up making the switch yourself, so to speak, it really helps to educate yourself about the meat industry and stop letting ignorance hinder your way. If you’re interested, here are some great resources to read and watch:
- Forks Over Knives
- Ted Talks: 'Ending the battle between vegans, vegetarians, and everyone else' by Brian Kateman
- Ted Talks: 'The Power of Our Food Choices' by Lauren Ornelas
How?With the ‘why’s’ out of the way, I suppose it’s best to talk about how I’ve gone about cutting meat from my diet. My first port of call was to sit and read up on the nutrients that I *could* be missing from my diet should meat be removed and it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. No fainting episodes, only positive changes to my energy levels, better skin and hair* and, best of all, a more adventurous and colourful plate.
What?I find it odd when friends ask me what I eat now that I’m vegetarian - I mean, it was never like I solely ate meat beforehand. I’m a fairly adventurous eater and thus it hasn’t been difficult to create meals. I find I eat lots of grain bowls topped with plenty of vegetables and I’m a pro at making lots of dressings, marinades and sauces to keep meals interesting. We’ve begun to dabble into the world of Quorn as well but are trying to stay away from ‘meat replacements’. Having said that, those Quorn Picnic Eggs? Buy them all. Seriously. Ridiculously tasty.
I’ve found it really useful to have a stash of cookbooks to refer to at dinner. In particular, the Love & Lemons Cookbook and Deliciously Ella cookbook have opened my eyes to goodness eating and making steps towards an overall healthier lifestyle and way of eating. They’re all accessible recipes and have served well to introduce me to food that I’d not necessarily have cooked or prepared had I not become vegetarian.
What’s difficult?Interestingly enough, I rarely crave meat. OK, so the first week was comparable to torture but it’s surprising how quickly your body adapts to a new way. Personally, I find my meals to be so full of rich flavour and so fun to prepare that I’m not that fussed. I’d recommend looking into iron supplements, particularly for women, “just in case” but on the whole, I don’t find it difficult to Not Eat Meat, aside from one or two slip-ups as I transitioned my diet.
The harder part comes in eating out, of which I do all the time. Living near London means I tend to do all of my eating out in the city and there are great options at several places, but you’ll find that often the veggie option is simply a regular meal with tofu or mushrooms (mushrooms continue to be Mish’s Number One Enemy) instead of meat. When I visited Brighton, it was an absolute goldmine for veggie cafes and restaurants!
- Try the Linda McCartney range if you’re struggling with meal ideas.
- Prepare chickpeas and lentils in batches!
- Fresh cool salsa and guac made fresh and stored will really help to boost meals.
- Pick up The Love & Lemons Cookbook - it’s my favourite!
- Transition slowly. I pretty much switched immediately but it’s worthwhile to begin considering vegetarian options alongside your everyday lifestyle; scan menus for veggie options and make a conscious effort to think about your new diet.
- Be conscious of your body. Listen to what your body wants. I’ve eaten fish on two or three occasions because I felt my hair and skin was dry and it did me the world of good. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle every now and again.