Everyone at times wants to make a change in their lives, from trying one diet to the next. Sometimes you can’t find the right change to fit your lifestyle. Even though more people have become vegan or vegetarian, a lot of people still think of it as a wild concept, something they could never do. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to present a challenge.
You, too, can cut meat out of your diet with just a little effort and a willingness to change.
At 15 years old, I went to my mom and told her that I thought I wanted to stop eating meat. Thinking of this as just another phase, my mom supported me as I began. And now, five years later, I still don’t eat meat and I try to cut out dairy where I can. But don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride.
I began this journey by cutting out all meat besides fish from my diet. Scared to just go cold turkey, I felt like this made it easier to transition. A few months later, I cut out all fish and seafood from my diet as well. And what do you know? I did it. I made the transition from carnivore to pescatarian to vegetarian. At first, I did have trouble finding the right food to eat in order to stay healthy and get all of the nutrients that I needed. Taking to the internet, I did some research on how to cut out meat and remain healthy.
It started to get easier as time went on. I learned that I can’t survive on potato chips and Oreos no matter how hard I try. That said, I also found out that eating too many meat alternatives can lead to an unbalanced diet and won’t get you the nutrients that you need. Trust me, trial and error will become your new best friend.
I thought I had my crap together, but it took me years to really figure it out.
For me, I chose to become vegetarian for many reasons. Number one: because of the animals. My whole life I’ve been a huge softy; send me too many cute animal videos and I’ll have tears in my eyes in minutes. I watched different documentaries like Cowspiracy, which talks about the meat industry and the awful things done to cows, chickens, pigs and other animals eaten for consumption. The thought of killing animals at my expense shook me to my core, so I decided that I didn’t want to hold that guilt anymore.
Once I began to do more research, I found that animal agriculture took the number one spot for climate change because of methane gas exposure to the air—aka cow farts, ew. Taking up over one-third of the Earth’s land animal agriculture doesn’t make the most of the land it uses. If we planted crops like wheat or other grains on the same amount of land that cows and other animals use to graze, we could feed more people than through meat consumption. I think of it like this: with fewer people eating meat, more people can have food all over.
Now I can sleep at night.
Okay, okay, enough technical talk, how can you start cutting meat from your diet? Start small. Make one meal a day vegetarian. Figure out what you like and try new things. You can find tons of delicious vegetarian and vegan food out there, but you must have an open mind and try things out of your norm. It took me a long time to find my routine, but now I have my go-to foods. I even have my special occasion foods as well. Once you know what you like, you can grow from there. Brands like Boca, Quorn and Morning Star all make great meat alternatives for a low cost. I find all of these and more at my local grocery store, but places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have larger selections of vegetarian and vegan food.
How many times have you heard how much money becoming vegan or vegetarian costs? A lot, right? Though in practice, it doesn’t cost much more than a meat eater’s diet. Cutting out meat opens up money to buy other vegetarian foods and meat alternatives. Hate to break it to you, but meat costs a lot of money on its own. It’ll have better effects on your wallet and body if you cut it out, and I know everyone wants to save every cent possible.
Of course, a vegetarian or vegan diet may not work for a lot of people due to health restrictions.
Make sure that you have good health and the ability to cut out meat before jumping into it headfirst. As you make these gradual steps to becoming vegetarian or vegan, remember to listen to your body and to make your health more important than anything.
For me, going vegetarian made me feel healthier and happier all around. I didn’t have to feel bad about what I put into my body, and I knew that everything I ate came from the Earth. Eliminating meat from my diet helped me both physically and mentally. Exactly why I plan on continuing this diet for as long as possible. So sorry mom, not just a phase.