Becoming a vegetarian can be a little overwhelming at first, especially if you don’t have the support you were hoping for from family and friends. It is a lifestyle change, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.
Choose The Type Of Vegetarian You Want To Be.
Lacto Ovo Vegetarians eat dairy and eggs, but no meat, fish or poultry.
Lacto Vegetarians eat dairy, but no meat, fish, poultry or eggs.
Vegans do not eat any meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy.
If you are just starting out as vegetarian, I would recommend starting as Lacto Ovo, at least while you transition to eliminating all meat products from your diet. It can be a little intimidating to immediately go cold turkey on everything.
Learn To Read Labels
As well as the obvious foods that are meat, you will also need to eliminate the foods that contain meat products. That includes all meat stocks, fish stocks, anchovies and gelatin. You will need to get into the habit of checking the label of everything you buy before it goes into your shopping cart (or mouth if you are still buying meat for family members or roommates). And I mean everything! I have found sugar cookies with beef fat. Borscht generally contains beef stock. Caesar dressing contains anchovies, as does Worcestershire sauce. Marshmallows and most jellied candies contain gelatin, as do some yogurts. And just because the product didn’t contain meat products the last time you bought it doesn’t mean it is vegetarian this time. Always check!
Consider The Vegetarian Foods You Already Like
You probably have more vegetarian meals in your current diet than you realize you do. At the beginning of your transition make those foods regularly, to help you get into the habit of cooking vegetarian. It will feel a lot less like going into the unknown.
Grilled cheese sandwich
Baked potato with various toppings
Macaroni and cheese
Pasta with tomato sauce
Beans on toast
Forgive Yourself The Slip ups
Everyone has had it happen from time to time. There have definitely been times where I have been happily tucking into a yogurt and on checking the label halfway through discovered it changed gelatin. In the beginning, you won’t always remember to check a label, or you won’t notice your favourite brand of cookie has changed the ingredients to add beef fat until you’ve finished the pack. Mistakes happen, don’t beat yourself up. Even people who have been vegetarian for years make them occasionally. You haven’t failed, you will just remember next time to double check before you eat it.
Other People’s Reactions
Everyone you know will have an opinion on your new choice, and you will hear it whether you want to or not. Don’t make your change a HUGE deal, and instead become a silent role model. If people ask questions answer them, but don’t feel the need to get defensive about your choices. Understand that your choice has made them feel defensive, as if they have to defend their choice to continue eating meat. Show them that are still the same person you were before, and whatever you did with them you can still do, and that is better than any argument about the merits of meat vs veg.
Stay tuned to Vegetarian Deliciousness for tips and recipes to help your transition to vegetarian!