While people have been trying out Veganuary for the month of January, I decided to do the slightly less intense version. I decided to go vegetarian.
Although for me, the intention is not to just be vegetarian for the month of January, it’s more of an ongoing thing. I’ve tried a couple of times before to go vegetarian but it didn’t work out for one reason or another, but this past month I have actively made a change in my lifestyle choices and you know what? It’s been so easy, I’ve barely noticed!
Here’s some things I have discovered in my first month of making the change…
The first few days are easy…
It goes without saying that the first few days of any change are relatively easy, it’s making the change last that’s the hard part.
In the first few days, you’re excited by the new food choices you’re making and you feel fresh and positive about your upcoming journey.
It gets really difficult at 2 weeks…
You will hit a wall. You’ll start craving chicken nuggets. You’ll see your work mates tucking into McDonalds breakfasts and long for a ‘Double Sausage Egg McMuffin’ as you tuck into your hash brown and egg and cheese wrap. You’ll be hungover and kill for a bacon sandwich as you force down your scrambled egg.
BUT hold on in there! The key to avoiding these traps is to always be prepared.
If you know that you’re going to be hungover the next day, make sure that you have something that you like in the house for breakfast. Turn scrambled egg into an egg scramble with onion, peppers, tomatoes, mushroom and spinach. It will still taste good and you won’t have the guilt that comes along with a bacon sandwich.
You will have to learn more recipes…
The big reason why people don’t like the idea of turning vegetarian is that they think that you will never have tasty food again. This is a common misconception – there is actually no difference in quality of taste between a meal with or without meat; it just tastes different.
I really recommend getting a cook book to inspire you with new recipes – otherwise you get stuck thinking that you will forever only eat soups and salads. But there is so much more you can eat! And most meals that you had before, you can still have; just take out the meat and replace it with something. My boyfriend still eats meat and we cook together – he just adds meat to his and I don’t.
Two cookbooks that I have are Meat-Free Meals and Love Real Food. There are so many recipes that I haven’t even made a dent in the possibilities. There are recipes for each meal of the day, plus snacks, so you are in no shortage of ideas.
I have barely noticed the change from eating meat because I have been eating so much great tasting food that it hasn’t made me long for it.
You need discipline when eating out…
It’s easy to control what you’re buying and eating in your own house, but when you get outside and someone else is in charge of deciding what is the vegetarian option, it can be a harder story.
A lot of stores are now starting to introduce vegan lines, which is great because it makes it more accessible for people to buy food without hunting it down in obscure shops. But when you’re in a restaurant, the offerings can be minimal depending on where you go.
If in doubt, have a veggie or a margarita pizza, but look through the menu and see what else is on offer. Pasta dishes are often meat-free, or can be done so, and I’ve had some lovely risottos and egg-plant parmesan meals while dining out. Wetherspoon’s vegetable lasagna is actually pretty good (also so are the veggie sausages on the breakfast).
There are options out there – you’ve just got to be disciplined and not tempted by the chicken burger.
You will constantly need to fart…
I have never been as gassy as I was in my first week of eating vegetarian. All the extra vegetables were playing havoc with my system, but it passes pretty quickly! (No pun intended.)
The fear of constantly feeling bloated was nearly enough to make me give up before I’d even reached the two week mark, but I pushed through, determined that there was a brighter future ahead. And you know what? There was. THANK GOD!
You have to go ‘all or nothing’…
I have tried to go vegetarian a couple of times in the past two years, and for some reason or another, they failed.
The first time, I gave up because I was going to work on a cruise ship and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to survive and do my job eating from the pitiful salad bar in the crew mess for 6 months. And the second time, I still had a load of meat and fish in my freezer that I didn’t want to waste. So I kept throwing them into dishes to get them used up and then by the time they were gone I was like ‘ah what’s the point?’
So if you’re going to do it, make sure that there is no meat in your freezer. Make sure that you feel ready to make the commitment and be prepared. You have to do a bit more planning when it comes to eating, because the shops only have limited options for ready meals, so get a cookbook.
Don’t tempt yourself. Think about the reasons you are making the change.
I watched my boyfriend eat a spectacular-looking KFC the other night and I denied his offer of a bite and ate my chips and pizza contentedly. You’re not giving anything up, you’re just being more specific about what you put in your mouth.