When you first become a vegetarian, adjusting to a new way of eating can be difficult. You have to learn how to substitute other ingredients for the meat you used to eat, and also adjust your palate to new flavors. You may long for your old favorite meat dishes. So how do you change over to your new way of eating without giving in to those cravings? Here's how …
1. Gradual Change
While some people prefer to make an instant leap into a vegetarian diet, others find it easier to change over gradually. I started by cutting out red meat, then chicken, and finally fish. This meant that I could slowly learn to cook new dishes and find substitutes for familiar foods. So by the time I gave up meat altogether I was used to a new way of cooking.
2. Discover New Flavors
Treat your new diet as a chance to discover lots of exciting new flavors. You'll find many new (to you) products and ingredients in supermarkets and health food stores. Your local ethnic grocer is also an excellent source of interesting and intriguing ingredients.
3. Meat Substitutes
I've often been asked why you'd want to eat meat substitutes like soya mince if you've given up the real thing. Meat substitutes are very convenient, especially when you're cooking for a group and just want to replace the meat for yourself. They're also a good way of weaning yourself onto a vegetarian diet, as you can buy veggie sausages etc and use them as you would meat sausages.
4. Remind Yourself Why
It can also be helpful while you're making the transition to a meat-free diet to remind yourself of why you're doing this. Whether it's because you want to eat more healthily, or for ethical reasons, thinking about those reasons will strengthen your determination and help you through making the adjustments to your diet and way of life.
5. Check out Recipes
If you're stumped for ideas of what to cook, turn to recipes for inspiration. Start with a cookbook from your local library; you can buy one later when you're more familiar with what you like. Look for a cookbook with color photos, as this will encourage you to try the new recipes. You can also find loads of recipes on the internet
Getting cravings for meat when you turn vegetarian may be partly due to getting used to the changes in your diet. However it may also be a sign that you need certain nutrients. Educate yourself on nutrition, so that you can be sure that your new vegetarian diet is giving you everything that you need; you should find out some other sources of protein and iron, for example.
7. You're Not Missing out
People may think that you're missing out by not eating meat, but that's not the case at all. See it as an adventure into a new way of eating. You're not losing out, but gaining a positive step into a kinder way of life. Be adventurous and try out new ingredients; you won't know if you like them until you give them a go!
Try these tips, and before long you'll be happily enjoying your vegetarian diet and have lots of new dishes in your culinary repertoire! What is the one food that you could never give up?