On both my main channel and my health and fitness channel, WhatTheHealth, I often get asked questions about my vegetarian diet. I always love to answer you individually, but today I wanted to put together a handy guide on how to ditch the meat from your diet. It’s not a step-by-step instruction booklet but a collection of tips I’ve picked up along the way. I first became vegetarian when I was 9 years old, meaning I’ve been meat-free for the majority of my life – here’s some advice I would have found it helpful to know during my journey!
Meal Times DO NOT Have To Be More Difficult
There are two types of vegetarian meals: those made to be veggie, and those that are incidentally veggie. The latter consists of things like macaroni cheese, vegetable stew, mushroom stroganoff etc etc. The former occurs when meat-based elements of dishes are swapped out for alternatives – using Quorn Mince to make Spaghetti Bolognese, Linda McCartney Sausages to make a ‘sausage’ casserole or tofu pieces in place of chicken in a stir fry. Both kinds of vegetarian meals are delicious, and don’t have to be any more complicated to prepare than their meaty counterparts. It’s just about planning ahead, keeping your freezer well-stocked and using a little imagination instead of grabbing for the ingredients you may be used to. If you can get your meat-eating other half or family members interested in trying Quorn instead of chicken or pork from time to time, this also makes matters more straightforward too!
Plan Ahead When Eating Out
In 2015 we’re lucky enough to have an abundance of vegetarian options when it comes to choosing a restaurant, but it never hurts to plan ahead. For example, I know that there are some eateries where I just won’t find anything I fancy (there’s more to life than bean burgers, you know!) and some where I’ll be spoiled for choice. Some of my favourite chain restaurants include Wagamama, Pizza Express, Nando’s (their Mushroom and Halloumi burger is amazing!), Wahaca and Prezzo. But I also love to visit Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants as they always have a huge range of vegetarian (and often vegan) options. I’d say that Chinese cuisine is my favourite of all, as there is almost always tofu on the menu! In most places now you can easily fit in with a group and ask for your order to be slightly amended to be vegetarian too, most of the time.
Get Stuck In To Vegetarian Blogs & YouTube Channels
If you’re ever needing a little extra motivation to carry on along your vegetarian path, then blogs and YouTube channels are a great idea. I have noticed that there are actually many more vegan corners of the internet than just vegetarian, but hey – it’s all good by me! I love channels like HappyHealthyVegan, and blogs like my good friend HelloGemma‘s, and there are many more fabulous sources for vegan and vegetarian information too. Try not to get sucked in to the more extreme pages, although I understand it can be tempting – keeping level headed and clear on your pat is always a great plan. I also make vegetarian-friendly videos on WhatTheHealth too, namely my What I Ate Today vlogs!
Think About Why You’re Going Vegetarian
There will always be those who just don’t ‘get’ your decision to go veggie, but don’t let it phase you. Instead, have a bit of an answer prepared for those challenging questions that crop up, whether you’re doing it for health, taste or ethical reasons. How does this help you when going vegetarian, I hear you ask? Well, the fact is that some people just like to try and wear down your decision, so by doing your research you’re helping yourself stick to the lifestyle you’ve chosen. In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to justify it, but it’s something I come up against constantly.
I hope my tips have been useful! Feel free to share your own in the comments, or ask me any questions you may have about going veggie too.