You’ve always wanted to go vegetarian, but something has been stopping you from doing it. Maybe you’ve been making excuses, not doing the research, or have concluded that it will be “too hard”. Luckily, you are in Vancouver: one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in Canada! No more excuses - follow these simple steps to have a happier and healthier life!
I started out just like you, and finally decided to make a change in my life in September when I became vegetarian (and hopefully, vegan in the near future). I have learned that being vegetarian is a lifestyle: it isn’t merely a change in diet, but a part of who you are. It benefits both the body and the soul, making me feel happier, in better shape, and more fulfilled than ever. Many of you have asked me about how I managed the change, so here it is: my guide to going vegetarian and finally making that improvement to your life!
Step 1: Mindset
First and foremost, to stick to your new lifestyle, it’s important to understand why you want to change it. Having a solid understanding of your reasoning helps to ground you and keep you on track. Think positive: don’t think of this as “losing” meat, but as making a positive impact on yourself and the world around you.
Personally, I have 3 primary reasons for going vegetarian: health, animals, and the environment. I assume you’re reading this because you already have an interest in this lifestyle, so I won’t go into depth explaining. On top of this, vegetarian options will usually save you money too - more textbook dollars for you! To learn more and educate yourself, check out Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, The China Study, and follow inspiring vegetarians and vegans on YouTube/Instagram like @bonnyrebecca or @thrivingonplants.
Step 2: Community
It’s important to have a group of people who support you: find your community to share common values & yummy vegetarian meals with! The vegetarian/vegan community is extremely supportive, and everybody I have met has always been very inspiring. You and a friend can become accountability buddies, and share recipes, news, and advice. Declaring your new lifestyle to others will make you less likely to stray from it, whether it be through social media or in person. If you haven’t met your community yet, check out the Canadian Vegetarians/Vegans Facebook Group as a good starting point: https://www.facebook.com/groups/canadianvegetariansandvegans/
Step 3: Nutrition
In your first few days, you may find yourself feeling more hungry than usual. Not to worry! First, make sure to avoid carb-loading to deal with your hunger. Instead, load up on protein to make sure you’re still getting enough with vegetarian alternatives like tofu, tempeh, beans, and nuts.
If I’m being completely honest, yes, you may get meat cravings! Luckily, when this happens to me, I can cook some vegan “meat” instead. These are healthy alternatives to meat, often made using soy, usually found in the freezer aisle of the grocery store, and are absolutely delicious. One of my favourite brands is Gardein: you won’t even know it’s not real meat!
Congratulations: you’re now ready to go out into the world as a vegetarian!