Veg-Life

Going Vegetarian: A Guide

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One year ago I decided to embark on a “Meatless May” and I never turned back. To celebrate the one year anniversary of my going vegetarian, I decided that there was no better way to do this then to share what I have learned through my own experience. I’ve learned a lot and don’t plan on ever jumping back on the non-veg bandwagon.

1. REPLACE MEAT WITH VEGGIES, NOT CARBS.

In my early months, I often found myself replacing the off-limits meat with french fries, more bread, or other substitutions that were “allowed” but not actually doing my body any good. Simply put: going vegetarian means more vegetables.

2. KNOW THE LOCAL VEG SCENE.

To keep yourself from going stir-crazy, or rather stir-fry crazy, make sure to acquaint yourself with local vegetarian-oriented supermarkets and restaurants.

For Boston veggies, check out these completely vegetarian places: My Thai Vegan Cafe in Chinatown, Grezzo in the North End, and Peace o’Pie and Grasshopper in Allston. Plus try these extremely veg-friendly spots: Border Cafe in Harvard Square, Brown Sugar by Boston University, and Wagamama in Copley.

3. BRANCH OUT.

From the world’s formerly most picky eater, it’s even shocking to myself to think  of all of the new foods I’ve tried this year. American cuisine is truly one of the most meat-centric diets. Once you look to other nationalities, you’ll find a ton of more diverse and meatless options.  With my newfound adventurousness, I can now include tofu, hummus, tempeh, and falafel among my favorite foods.

4. REVAMP THE OLD.

You don’t have to give up old favorites. Remember that ixnaying meat from your table doesn’t make it a foreign place. When you want Italian, go for eggplant parmesan (my favorite), vegetable lasagna, or even veggie pizza. For Mexican, replace the chicken in your burrito with beans or go for veggie tacos and fajitas. It’s a lot easier than it seems to redo common meals.

5. READ THOSE LABELS.

You may not have to read labels with a fine-tooth comb like those following a vegan diet, but there are still many foods that you would be surprised to learn aren’t vegetarian. Foods with gelatin like Jell-o, marshmallows, and  some candies use animal parts. Many types of soup, stuffing, and rice are made with chicken or beef stock. Even some cheeses are made with animal organs!

6. DON’T FORGET THE PROTEIN.

Get ready to make some new friends: soy, beans, and quinoa. Protein is the biggest issue for many newbie vegetarians (myself included). The best way of going about the whole protein situation is by incorporating a major source into all of your meals. For breakfast, try Greek yogurt. For lunch and dinner, add quinoa to stir fries and beans and tofu to salads. For snacks, go with almonds or organic peanut butter.

Please share any other tips you’ve gained with your own vegetarianism. I’m still learning!

Try Meatless May, I dare you. And don’t be surprised if it turns into a new lifestyle.


Peace,

4 thoughts on “Going Vegetarian: A Guide

  1. I couldn’t agree more with everything you pointed out. You HAVE to read the labels! I did the “pescetarian” thing (veg + seafood)for the past year and it has been splendid. I’ve rethought the classics, cut out meat, and cut back on the [bad] carbs. I started it with the purpose of giving myself some much-needed discipline and parameters, because when you think that you can eat everything, you do. You know? I kinda got in the mindset of “I can’t have that” and it worked. Since going veg, or “pesce”, I haven’t had any of the stomach issues I was having before, mainly due to red meat consumption, and I have cut my portion sizes in half. Cutting out meat fuels creativity too! ANYTHING can be added to a cous cous or quinoa (fav!) dish, and those two are much better for you than boiling dried pasta… Yes, beans are your new best friend. Also, I recommend trying new prep/cooking methods; i.e. roasting rather than boiling cauliflower, or sauteing instead of steaming brussel sprouts. Lemon juice, garlic, pepper, or any spices for that matter make fantastic (and healthy!) additives to any dish, if you fear your meatless dish might lack flavor…OK, I had better stop there, because I can go on all day discussing the benefits of a meatless diet. Thanks for reading! ;)

  2. U’re not gonna believe this, but today is my day 3 w/o meat. I’ve been playing with an idea of going veg for over a year now and finally started this week, and yeah I am a little worried b/c I consumed too many carbs this week and need to start getting creative with my food. Im still eating seafood just for a little longer, I want to ensure smooth transition..anyway Im so happy you posted this and your tips, I still cant beleive it, awesome!
    thanks for this post darling!

    fashionableroad.blogspot.com

  3. I’ve been vegetarian for nearly 5 months now and am so happy that I decided to do it. It’s quite amazing how easy it is to give up meat and really does help you get creative with food and is a great excuse to try new things! I’ve found that my whole mindset and attitude towards food has changed since giving up meat and I really wish more people would try it – even if just for a certain amount of time like your meatless may (I started by taking the “30 day pledge to be veg”) I’m so happy you made this post – I always like hearing other peoples tips and stories about how they became vegetarian. I have a tip – Even if you get french fries from somewhere like McDonalds or burgerking or anywhere else for that matter (which you’d expect would be vegetarian), ask if they cook them in animal fat which you will often find they do! Especially fast food places. Thanks for this post :)

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