These tips can make a diet transition less intimidating and ultimately more successful.
Eating habits are difficult to change. From the moment we are babies, whatever our parents choose to feed us affects our taste buds and preferences.
We learn to love certain flavors and dislike others, and these are often not good for us. The evolutionary urge to eat salt, sugar and fat - nutrients that were once rare but now exist in abundance - is hard to beat, as is the tendency to eat meat when it is cheap and widely available.
However, an increasing number of people consciously choose to rethink their diets for environmental and ethical reasons. Reducing the meat or cutting it completely is becoming more normal. You can see it in the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants that open in every city, the expansion of healthy school meal programs, meatless Monday drives, and cafeteria salad bars. Documentary films like Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy have made people think about eating plant-based.
If you want to do this but feel overwhelmed by such a change, fear not! There are ways to make it easier, less daunting, and more successful in the long run. I have put together the following list of "hacks" from The Reducetarian Solution, a collection of essays examining the many benefits of reducing meat in the diet. These stood out for me and certainly helped me on my personal journey towards a significant reduction in dietary meat.
1. Stick with what is comfortable
There are countless meatless options available including 'exotic' ingredients like seitan, tofu, quorn, and tempeh (not to mention cultured meats and possibly insects), but if you're new to the world of meatless eating, this can seem intimidating, or even unappetizing. Instead, focus on making a meatless version of your favorite and familiar foods. For example, try chili with beans, vegetable lasagna, bean and rice stuffed burritos, lentil soup, and salads topped with nuts.
2. Start small and build gradually
It is not all or nothing. You'd be setting yourself up for failure if you went from loyal carnivore to vegan overnight. Work slowly towards your goal to ensure lasting success. Start with one meatless meal a week and continue with more.
Try to always order vegetarian food when you go out to eat, or the other way around, allowing yourself meat only when you are in a restaurant. The more vegan / vegetarian food you add to your diet, the easier it will be.
3. Slow down and listen to your body
This suggestion comes from Elisa Museles in an essay called "Listen to your body." She explains that many of us eat for the wrong reasons, constantly filling our bodies because we're bored, tired, stressed, or because the clock says it's dinner. time:
“How will you know if your body can handle less animal protein at each meal if you multitask and rush? How will you notice if you are satisfied when you eat standing up, while reading your text messages? "Elisa museles
She wants you to take the time to listen to what your body is telling you. Sit at the table, chew slowly, put down the fork. Pay attention to the aftermath, that is, are you energized or lethargic? Does your gut feel good or uncomfortable? Are you still hungry or are you full? What's your mood and how are your cravings? Pay attention to these details and you will find yourself choosing foods to get the result you want.
4. Focus on what you are gaining, not what you are losing.
If you've spent years giving meat a central position on your plate, it will seem scary to think about removing it. It requires a completely different approach to food preparation. I know because I've been through this.
I used to cook meat every day and loved it, but as I delved into eating more plant-based, I discovered countless glorious replacements. Now I'm excited about the beautiful oven roasted beans and veggie pans. It no longer seems that I am missing something, but that I have discovered a new world that I knew very little about.
5. Understand that your body's needs will change
Another wise suggestion from Museles: “Food that works for today's long-distance run might not work next week when you're battling a cold. Foods that gave you energy while you were pregnant could make you feel sluggish and groggy when you're chasing young children. "
In other words, be flexible. Listen to your body and your cravings (within reason) as they are trying to tell you something. For example, I have found that I crave animal protein much more in winter than in summer, when I am happy to subsist primarily on salads and fruits. Make “feeling your best” more important than meeting expectations for what to eat.
6. Seek support
The community makes everything easier. Find friends or co-workers who are on plant-based reducing diets. See if local vegan restaurants offer cooking classes.
Find Facebook groups or blogs where you can connect with like-minded people. As Nick Cooney writes, “At heart we are all a bunch of copycats,” so surrounding yourself with people who follow the same habits will be a recipe for success.
Note: Be sure to consult your doctor or healthcare provider when implementing a major diet change.