When you love to eat meat the idea of becoming a vegetarian may seem hard.
How do you replace the satisfaction you get from eating your favorite barbecue, steaks, hotdogs and hamburgers?
And fish, what about the fish and seafood…
It’s damn hard to pass up on the smell of foods you know are delicious!
How can you turn down these foods that bring so much joy to your life and stick to it?
Today, I’m going to show you how I went from being a meat-eating, loaded baked potato with bacon fanatic into a full-time vegetarian over the course of a couple of years.
I’m also going to show you what I eat and how my slow and steady approach can be successfully copied by you.
Why Do You Want To Become A Vegetarian?
In order to make the transition from being a meat-eater (omnivore) into a vegetarian or vegan, you first have to figure out WHY you want to do it in the first place.
What is the reason you now want to change your diet?
- Do you want to become a vegetarian to help the planet and improve your environment?
- Do you want to do it for spiritual reasons?
- Are you now opposed to the idea of eating animals?
- Do you want to do it to improve your health?
- Are you curious what it feels like to be a vegetarian and want to see for yourself why so many people are choosing this lifestyle / diet?
Whatever your reasoning is, once you have a strong personal reason for changing your diet, you will have the WILL to go after this goal and see it through.
When you grow up eating meat with just about every meal, it’s kind of like an addiction so you will need to have a good reason to stick to your goal.
Figuring out your WHY is very important, so think about it, write it down, look yourself in the mirror and get committed.
Mind Over Belly
I’ve heard of people who wake up one day and decide, “I’m no longer eating meat” and they stick to it.
I’ve read countless stories of people who made the transition one day and 20 years later, they are still vegans and vegetarians.
Kudos to them!
But, for me, it didn’t work that way.
I took me several years to make the transition from eating meat to vegetarianism.
I took a more steady, slow transition because I had tried going “cold-turkey” (no pun intended) many times and failed.
No one likes failing especially when it’s a goal you really want to accomplish…
I can remember wanting to be a vegetarian as far back as 1999.
For me, I wanted to do it for the animals.
I LOVE ANIMALS!
In fact, I love animals like I do babies, so my WHY was purely based on doing what I felt was right in my heart and mind.
Vegetarianism for me is not about my health (although that is a nice perk) so much as it is about not wanting to harm creatures I feel deserve to live and breath like I do.
This however didn’t make my transition come quick because I found it very hard to maintain a vegan / vegetarian diet and still feel satiated in my stomach.
I guess you could say my belly was bigger than my mind at that time.
Making The Transition
Ok, here’s the perfect way to transition from being a meat-eater to a vegetarian.
This method is guaranteed to work for you just like it did for me, so long as your reason for doing it really motivates you.
My method calls for you to give up one type of meat for 6 months and slowly eliminate your meat consumption over time.
What you will find is that once you give up a certain type of meat for an extended period of time, you will slowly lose your desire to eat that kind of meat.
So here’s the plan:
- Eliminate pork (aka the “other white meat”) from your diet first.
For most people who eat meat, bacon, pork ribs, and pork chops are delicious, but for the soon-to-be vegetarian this should be the first meat to give up.
- Next meat to give up is red meat.
Red meat can be tough to give up, but think about it this way…for the next 6 months you still have chicken, fish and seafood to eat.
Disclaimer: The idea of becoming a vegetarian involves discipline, so try not to think of eliminating meat as “giving up meat”, think of it as setting small goals that you are attaining. As you meet each goal of elimination, you will find a new sense of joy (trust me on this).
- Now the next meat you’re going to eliminate is, all poultry (aka all birds).
You are now left with only seafood as a meat source.
The Pescetarian Trick
Once you get to this stage of your transition, you are very much on the cusp of being a full fledged vegetarian. It’s here where you will learn to make the transition into vegetarianism and also learn what kinds of meals you like that do not have animal flesh in it.
During this state you will find and experience, that you no longer need to have animal flesh in all of your meals to feel satiated (eg. content after eating).
When you are only consuming seafood as your meat source, it’s called being a pescetarian.
Pescetarians eat seafood, eggs and consume dairy (although there’s no hard rule saying you have to continue to eat eggs and dairy).
While I’m not a huge fan of labels and putting people into “boxes”, pescetarianism is a recognized term you can use when you explain to your friends and family that you only consume seafood when it comes to meat.
(As a side note, it’s funny how many people you will come across who don’t think of “seafood” as meat when you explain what a pescetarian is. To this day, my father still thinks fish is not considered a meat, go figure!)
I stayed a pescetarian for about 3 years before finally giving up seafood.
The Pescetarian Trick Explained
The way I transitioned from pescetarian to vegetarian is by using the same elimination technique I shared above, except I started using it with seafood (btw I no longer call sea creatures “food”, just using this as a term most people are familiar with).
First, I eliminated all fish from my diet.
Next, I eliminated all shell fish from my diet.
Now I am what people would call a vegetarian as I still eat dairy at this time.
Going From Vegetarian to Vegan
Currently, I am a vegetarian and have been since 2014.
Specifically, a lacto vegetarian which means I avoid animal flesh and eggs, but I still do consume dairy products.
My goal is to become a full-fledged vegan very soon and I’m working towards it daily.
The key to making this transition is the same as the slow transition I mention above…finding and creating meals I totally enjoy that are straight vegan.
My appetite for cheese still gets the best of me, but I’m cool with my progress.
Basically, I go many days and weeks (even months sometime) avoiding dairy, but I can’t say I’ve totally eliminated it just yet.
I say this to say…
Don’t get caught up in the labels of what your diet is or is not.
Do what works best for you on your time table because that’s the only way you will be able to sustain it longterm.
There are countless stories of people who went from being a vegan to going back to consuming meat, because in my opinion they either didn’t have a good enough reason to do it, or because they transitioned too fast.
Take your time.
Small Goals Accomplish Big Things
As you go through the process of eliminating animals from your diet, you should always find ways to have meals that are pure vegan or vegetarian.
For instance, instead of having salmon cakes for breakfast, shrimp for lunch and fish for dinner, try eliminating your meat to just one meal a day.
Breakfast can be a muffin, toast, fruit, oatmeal, potatoes, coffee, etc.
Lunch can be a peanut butter sandwich, noodles, pizza, a salad, etc.
Dinner can be smaller and smaller portions of fish, shrimp, crabs and other seafood.
The idea and goal is vegan or vegetarian so start practicing these diets as you go.
Even if you are at the stage of still eating chicken and turkey, try to eat that just once a day instead of 2 or 3 times a day.
What you will learn is how to create meals you like that are vegan or vegetarian as you go.
The hardest part of becoming a vegetarian is figuring out what to eat when you’re hungry and craving all sorts of meat dishes.
Create these daily goals of having meat just once a day, this will lead to a quicker and more sustainable transition.
Vegan Staples To Have At Home
Here’s a list of products every vegan or vegetarian should keep in the refrigerator and pantry:
- Brown Rice
- Fresh & Frozen Vegetables: Green Peppers, Tomato, Lettuce, Onions, Garlic, Spinach, Eggplant, Avocado, Potatoes (very filling).
- Fresh or Canned Fruit: Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, etc.
- Tomato Sauce
- Cooked and Uncooked Beans
- Almond or Peanut Butter
- Almond or Rice Milk
- Fresh & Dry Seasonings
- Vegetarian Snacks & Chips
- Salsa & Humus
- Vegan Meat Substitutes (Gardein & Amy’s are the best brands in my opinion)
This is just a simple list to get you started. Over time you will figure out what you like and add it to your grocery list as you go.
Btw…here’s a great vegan chili recipe that is absolutely delicious!
The cool thing about eating this way is that you will find that you can make a meal very quickly and inexpensively.
Unlike meat, vegetarian foods don’t have to be cooked long (or at all for that matter). You’re basically either heating up your food, or adding a little bit of flavor and char to it by using a grill or frying pan.
From my personal experience, you will learn how to cook and season your food better as well. (Be sure to checkout YouTube for some great vegan recipes!)
Becoming a vegan / vegetarian is an honorable thing. I wish you the best on your journey as you go.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!