If you eat meat every single day of the week, it might seem like an impossible task to go a whole seven days without the staples of your diet. However, with more vegetarian and vegan cookbooks than ever, and with even the meatiest of restaurants and diners offering meat-free alternatives, you should be able to manage with a little foresight and planning.
In an environmentally conscious world, vegetarianism and veganism have rightly begun to push the ethical and environmental benefits of adopting their diets. Plant-based diets require less land use, allowing for less agriculture and more wild areas for flora and fauna to prosper. It also reduces pollution, protects endangered marine ecosystems, and uses much less water – an issue that will become even more prevalent in years to come as the climate crisis brings about more frequent droughts.
This, of course, is on top of the health benefits garnered by the individual who is giving up meat. A vegetarian diet is high in soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and prevents type 2 diabetes. Plants which are lower in fat and sodium than meats can also lower blood pressure.
Once you have decided to take the plunge, planning your meals is essential to getting the most out of your diet, not being left hungry and not caving into meat cravings within the first seven days. Your plan will vary depending on your budget, age, calorie intake, and activity levels – if you are happy with your current health levels, then consider what it is you eat on a normal day and begin to translate that into a plant-based alternative.
Buy a wall calendar that is divided up into weeks and plan the next seven days meticulously – ensure you have lunches and dinners accounted for as well as snacks, so you are not tempted into a mid-afternoon pastrami sandwich.
Tailor It to Your Needs
Your new vegetarianism or veganism should not come from an online template where you are trying to follow the same rules as everybody else. Making the change to a plant-based diet is a huge step and it is more likely to be a successful one if you tailor it to your own needs – don’t go fully vegan if eggs are the only source of non-meat protein that you like, for example. Your plan should also be tailored to your health – if you have any conditions that require a certain type of diet then don’t ignore them. As an example, those with dysphagia may find particularly chewy or fibrous foods difficult to swallow, so adapt your meal plan or use SimplyThick gel food thickener to help you process pureed vegetables.
Find an Accomplice
Finally, find a partner in crime for your switch to vegetarianism. This will be easier than you think, considering 39% of Americans claim to be striving to one day be vegan and are currently in the process of reducing their animal product intake.
Having this feeling of camaraderie and friendly pressure will make you more likely to stick to your plan as you won’t want to let your friend down who is also giving up meat. Think of them like a running partner who doesn’t want to go out alone – this is an activity and lifestyle that will make you both healthier, so encourage each other and don’t be the one to let the team down.