How to Be Vegetarian
Becoming a Vegetarian
Eating fruits and vegetables are good for you, there is no denying that and regardless of whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian the more fruits and vegetables you can include in your diet the healthier you will be and the longer you will live. There is also of course the desire of many to be pure vegetarians for a variety of other reasons and there are plenty of discussions on the web regarding this debate, so that is not what I am going to discuss in this article. In this article I am going to give you tips on how to go from being a meat eater to a vegetarian, if that is indeed a change you have decided to make.
Previously in the article Healthy Eating Guide, I went over 11 important guidelines on how to eat. Those eating tips will go a long way in helping you maximize the benefits of food, and will make eating a positive, energizing and healing activity for you. Regardless of whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian, I suggest paying close attention to those guidelines and incorporating them into your daily eating habits.
Now for those looking to convert to vegetarianism and for those struggling to do so, here are 7 valuable tips to help you make this transition successfully. For those who are curious, yes I am a convert myself, I grew up eating meat and am now a vegetarian. I am well aware of the challenges in making this change and so have some special insight in helping you do so as well :-).
7 Tips on Becoming Vegetarian:
1. Cut Meat in Phases:
The body is a very delicately balanced system and sudden drastic changes are not always easy for it to adjust to. If you have been a life long meat eater, the body has oriented itself to digesting meat and giving it up overnight might not be something the body is prepared to do. Furthermore, since meat has been a part of your meals, you might not know of many vegetarian options either. So make the transition over time.
I suggest, first giving up all red meat, as that is the worst for you health and giving up red meat, still leaves you with other healthier choices as you march towards becoming a total vegetarian.
Next give up the white meats (chicken, turkey, etc) and just stick to seafood. Here you can include any seafood you like.
Before becoming pure vegetarian, there is still another step I recommend you take, which is to then give up all seafood except for fish. Here you can restrict yourself to just salmon if you like. Many people find this to be a good compromise and from a research point of view, this is quite a healthy place to be as well.
Finally, if you are determined to not kill animals and other forms of complex life, now is the time to give up fish as well, and just become pure vegetarian.
For those who are interested in giving up eggs as well, they can either move to unfertilized eggs from free roaming hens, or move towards giving up eggs as well (Note: The eggs you normally get at the store are unfertilized, but you might not wish to be an accomplice to how those hens are treated).
2. Go Vegetarian When Life is Good:
Food is a great source of pleasure and stimulation for many, and the primary reason for eating meat is that it tastes good. So if you are going to deny yourself this pleasure, do it at a time when your life is full of other joys and stimulation. If you try to give up meat at a time when things are already tough for you, chances are you will fail to sustain being vegetarian.
This thinking is in line with Buddha’s teaching of not overloading the ox cart. In other words, don’t take on more challenges and difficulties than you can handle. Giving up meat is a big sacrifice to those who eat it. It is not easy to do, especially if you have been eating it all your life, so ensure you pick a time to do this when your life is bubbling with other good things. It will be much easier then to handle this sacrifice.
3. Make Lifestyle Changes:
Chances are that eating out will offer less choices and be less attractive if you switch to becoming vegetarian. This is especially true in the West and other areas where vegetarianism is a relatively new phenomenon. So you need to be prepared to give yourself some more veggie options. If you can cook your own food, there is nothing like it, but if you have to eat out then you will need to explore new venues and restaurants. Speak to veggie friends and family members to get their reviews and favorites to get you going.
If you are a single guy, just go ahead and marry a vegetarian who is a good cook . I am kidding of course, but speaking from experience having Trupti who is a vegetarian and cooks very well, has certainly made this transition easier for me. The key point here is that if both partners are vegetarian then it is easier to convert.
4. Prepare and Plan:
In your daily routine I think you will be able to maintain being a vegetarian relatively easily, but if you are a meat eater then you could face challenges when you travel or take vacations. Options on the road can be woefully limited and there is a limit to how much pizza and french fries you can eat. So for trips and vacations you need to learn from the older generation and learn to pack veggie food for the road.
In the same way, if your options for lunch at work offer very little in the way of vegetarian options, you may need to bring food from home. At the end of the day, this is actually not a bad thing, as you will end up not just eating healthier, but also saving some money.
5. No Cheating:
Once you have made the switch, don’t make exceptions until being a vegetarian has become second nature to it. At which point, it is unlikely you will need to make an exception anyway. Just being non-veg for this vacation, or when you go to parties, or when you go out to eat, or just this one time since the chicken biryani smells so good, is generally going to derail the whole effort.
So one you decide to phase out certain meats and once you have switched over, don’t compromise. Show some willpower and control over your taste buds and stay the course you have set for yourself.
6. Do Yoga and Meditation:
If you are trying to be vegetarian, you will find that yoga and meditation practice help you in achieving this goal. This is because such practice refines your energy and makes your entire system more sensitive. In this refined state, the old desire to consume animal flesh and animal parts sometimes just vanishes. Also, once your sensitivity increases, eating meat will tend to affect you emotionally, making you sad, and that too will help you on your journey to vegetarianism.
You can check out our free online yoga and meditation classes as a starting point.
7. Watch Food Industry Documentaries or Visit a Slaughter House:
If the intelligent approach to becoming vegetarian is not working, then go ahead and watch a movie on the food industry. I hear Food, Inc is pretty shocking. For more drastic measures, go ahead and visit a slaughter house or chicken processing plant. It is easier to eat meat when we distance ourselves from the animals who are killed to supply us their flesh, but I have a feeling getting closer to the action will have a shock value that may be just want you need to make that final push to becoming and staying a vegetarian.
I also suspect that if you are trying to help your children be vegetarian, such an approach might be useful, although as I have not seen the movie or visited a slaughter house I am hesitant on making the recommendation in case it is too disturbing for young, innocent hearts.
Summary of How to Be Vegetarian:
One thing I would like to say with regard to becoming vegetarian is that if you try and fail, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just try again once you have gathered more strength. Judging yourself harshly for not being able to give up meat is just more violence and serves no good purpose. Just go ahead and try again.
If you have converted to vegetarianism please do share your tips with others in the comments section below. If you eat non-veg and would like to discuss challenges you face in converting please feel free to discuss those below as well.