Maybe it has something to do with seeing green everywhere, but each spring it’s common to consider becoming a vegetarian. You’ve heard some friends give legit speeches in the middle of dinner on its health benefits. Or you think it might help you fit into your jeans from college. Perhaps you’re starting to question how animals are treated in the food chain? In any case, you’re worried about taking the plunge since just this morning, you were daydreaming about a thick cut of porterhouse steak. The great news is you don’t have to think about eternity! Vegetarianism is a choice you can test out for a period, then judge its merits for yourself.
Before you try out life as an herbivore, read this three-point guide to help you consider the good, the bad, and everything in between. Whether or not you strictly eat veggies or take down glazed hams like a boss, your food choices should be personal and right for you. Without further ado…
1. Know Your Motives
Motive is the first and most important thing to consider when you decide to become a vegetarian. Start by thinking about your personal reasons for not wanting to eat meat, then hunker down and do your research. If you’re concerned about the way animals are treated, you might find it helpful to investigate these practices and decide whether or not there is a responsible way to continue eating meat. If you want to lose weight, understand that saying no to meat is not necessarily a shortcut. On the other hand, if you’re interested in eating cleaner, vegetarianism might be the place to begin since it forces you to eat thoughtfully. As a result, you’ll end up consuming more whole foods—think grains, fruits, vegetables, and good fats.
2. Understand that Vegetarianism Should Not Equal Eating Cheese Curls All the Livelong Day
As a new vegetarian, it might be tempting to eat cheese curls in greater amounts than you used to. Try to avoid this pitfall! First, come up with a plan that prioritizes nutrition in the absence of meat. Without prep, you might initially feel hunger pangs and over compensate in unhealthy ways. While it’s easy to load up on carbs and snack foods to feel full, this method doesn’t provide you with the well-rounded diet you need to sustain your energy and stay healthy. You’ll want to look for alternative sources of protein—like nuts, beans, soy, and some dairy products—and work them into your daily meals. Keep in mind meat substitutes will never taste like meat. To stave off feelings of disappointment, expect vegetables to taste like vegetables and soy products to taste different and wonderful in their own ways—not like steak.
3. Realize There Could be a Social Effect
Suddenly it seems like your best social memories revolve around shared dishes of pork dumplings, beef tacos, and pepperoni pizza after midnight. If you’re concerned about the social fallout of your impending vegetarianism, relax! In 2016, there are infinite options for those who want to go meatless. Most restaurants offer a plethora of vegetarian choices, many of which are absolutely delicious. Your true friends won’t scoff if you order cabbage-chive pot stickers while they chow down on their menu picks. And most dinner hosts will have at least a few veggie options available. Also, you’ll probably end up cooking more often, which means you can create stunning vegetarian feasts for welcoming old friends and making new ones. Some of them might even consider saying sayonara to their meat-eating proclivities—you just never know.