A lot of people who have considered vegetarianism get a little anxious when they think of sitting down to eat and not seeing a big steak and baked potato or a burger with fries staring back at them. A good deal of vegetarianism is mindset. We have had it drilled into our heads for so many years by the beef and dairy industry that we absolutely HAVE to have meat products that we know of no other way to eat. In this article we will discuss replacing meat in your meals. We also offer a good way to begin your vegetarian venture.
Beginning Your Vegetarian Lifestyle
People get anxious when they talk about the vegetarian diet. Talk to any of your friends and you get the response "Gee, I just can't go without my Big Mac and fries" or "Nothing beats a good steak". Quitting meat cold turkey is a bit extreme, unless you must do it for health reasons. So here is a plan to make the transition.
Start with eliminating certain meats
This is a very good way to begin. Everyone has their favorite meats, whether pork chops, hamburger, steak, chicken, or fish. Eliminate your least favorite, and do it during the weekdays. Reward yourself on the weekends by having that steak or burger. Keep working up the ladder until meat isn't so important to you.
Make meatless main courses
During the week, focus on main dishes that don't require meat. Meatless lasagna is extraordinarily good. Made with spinach instead of layers of meat, it is both satisfying and healthy. Pizza and soups are other good choices. Get over the habit of seeing big pieces of meat on your plate. Visualization is a large part of eating.
Eat meat less often
Cut back on the frequency of eating meat. If you like a big breakfast of ham, sausage or bacon, eat oatmeal and toast with peanut butter. Add lots of fruit. If you regularly eat meat every day, cut back to five days per week, then three, then two. Before you know it—meat has lost a lot of its importance.
Keep meat out of your home
Eat meat only when dining out or going to a friend's house for dinner. This gets you into not eating meat at your home. Meat then becomes something you eat on special occasions, and it makes it very easy for you to make the transition. It's really a lot like quitting smoking or drinking. If it isn't in the house then it isn't a temptation.
A lot of vegetarians use meat replacements in their cooking. Things such as Boca burgers or beef and sausage crumbles give them the feeling of eating meat even though it’s really vegetarian. Beef and sausage crumbles are excellent replacements, especially in an omelet if you chose the lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle. But, be aware that soy and gluten allergies are a threat here—if you feel lousy after eating them, it is a good idea to take a trip to the doctor to determine if you're allergic.
What about My Favorite Recipes?
Every family has favorite recipes, many of them handed down for generations. You can still make these by either leaving out the meat or using meat substitutes. There is a lot of information on the internet relating to adapting dishes from favorite recipes. A good thing about using this plan is that if you have a family get together with some vegetarians and some non-vegetarians, then it is a simple task to make a double batch of the recipe, making one with meat and the other without.
What to Watch For
Being vegetarian means you educate yourself concerning foods. For example, Bacos, used in salads and toppings, are pure vegan. Other things, such as gelatin or rennet, are made of meat by-products. Beware of sugar—as you should anyway. It is often made with bone char.
Vegetarianism - A Personal Choice
Vegetarians are often seen as misfits and fallout from the beef industry. Keep in mind that the way you eat is really a personal choice. Responding to dedicated meat eaters can be tiresome. With everything, there are fanatics—both vegetarian and carnivores. Some of these people are driven to make a religion out of their own personal life choices. That's okay, but the normal person who just happens to be vegetarian gets a lot of flack from others. The best response to make to people when teased about being a vegetarian is "I don't criticize you for eating meat, so how about you showing me the same respect?" You’ve made the decision to be a vegetarian. Don't be a martyr about it.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.