This post is for anyone who is considering a vegetarian lifestyle!

Hello, friends who are trying to go Vegetarian!

Today is day 11 of eating vegetarian and I wanted to share a few of my tips for those who are considering doing something similar. If eating vegetarian isn’t your style, cool. You may still get something from these tips. Let me know what you think in the comments below! I would also love to hear what everyone of you does to make meals easier, regardless of what sort of diet you eat. 

Plan ahead! 
1. Cut your veggies right when you get home from the store, so that on cooking day you just have to place them in the pan. 
2. Spend your Sundays cooking a few meals, so that you just have to re-heat at dinner time. 
3. find replacement options for struggle areas. Have vegetarian snacks at the ready. Have some easy read to go breakfast options. Whatever makes it easier for you.

Plan Ahead

I’ve been wanting to do a challenge like this for a long time, but I always find myself buying tons of veggies (that I end up throwing away at the end of the week) and ordering out choosing meat filled, oil filled, not so healthy alternatives. It typically ends up being a worse week than normal for me.  Anyone else relate? Here are a couple of ways I planned ahead to avoid the reoccurring pattern I’ve been on.

I may not use all of these tips each week, depending on what sort of time I have on the weekend, however I have used them all at one point or another. They’ve all proven useful to me. 

1. Cutting my veggies right when I get home from the store

Do some research on how to keep your veggies fresh. Some veggies (like asparagus) actually does best when you put them in a cup of water standing up. This helps them to last longer and it’s pretty easy to just grab the jar from the fridge and throw them in the pan. 

If you like smoothies prepare those ahead of time as well. put your greens, fruits, nuts/seeds, whatever you put in a smoothie in a bag and toss it in the freezer. Believe it or not, green smoothies can last in the freezer for up to a month. 

Cut any fruit or veggies, put them in a container and you are half way there. 

2. Cook multiple meals on the same day so that when I am ready to eat the hard part is already done. 

Cook your meals full, or just cook some things. If you know you are going to have roasted veggies make those a head and save cooking rice for another day. Look at the recipes you plan to make and do the hardest parts first so the day you plan to eat it you have to do the minimum amount of work possible. 

3. Having replacement options for my struggle areas.

Having a healthy snack on hand or, for me, having a healthy option to replace my sugar/starbucks addiction with is super important to my success. Identify your struggle areas and plan REALISTICALLY to combat them. 

Okay, I know Starbucks is definitely not a meat product. For me, I’m trying to focus on getting healthy and getting my sugar addiction under control. If i think of it as “I can’t ever have Starbucks again” then I AM GOING TO FAIL. 100% give up now. it won’t happen.  But if eating vegetarian happens to help motivate me to have a lower sugar intake then I am all in. I digress, my ADD is back. 

Perhaps an example that would pertain more to people who are attempting to go vegetarian is to look for meat alternatives. Cauliflower works as a great substitute in recipes. You can also make your own meatless burgers (meatballs, whatever). A lot of the meatless products on the market is very expensive for the little amount of actual product you get. Consider making homemade versions. They last longer and you know exactly what is going in them!

Sweet Potato Soul has a lot of great recipes! She makes a lot of southern style soul food with Vegan options. There are also a lot of sweets on her page as well. Check her out!

Retrain your brain!
1. Identify your unhealthy thoughts i.e. "I could never eat out with friends and get a vegetarian meal! It's such a waste". 
2. Challenge those thoughts "I've made a commitment to myself, and I am worth following through" 
3. Keep your motivation close to your heart. Remind yourself why you are doing this. If you do well with reading, journal about it and re-read it every morning. If you are a visual person  hang some stuff up around the house with a visual that reminds you of your motivation. 
4. Educate yourself - watch documentaries that give you facts that makes you want to keep going. read a book, listen to a podcast. 
5. surround yourself with supports wou will encourage you. A facebook group, instagram, text a friend, having a vegetarian dinner party. 
6. Remind yourself that messing up is part of life and that you are not failing, you are learning a new lesson.

RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN

Another huge part of changing your lifestyle is changing your thoughts. If you are addicted to meat products, sugar, heroin (whatevs) it is nearly impossible to make these changes without thinking of things differently. 

Here are a couple of ways you can do this. 

1. Identify your unhealthful thoughts (Haha get it? Play on words? no? kay…)

Some of my unhelpful thoughts were “I can’t possible order out and not eat meat. What’s the point? I’d just be throwing my money away” “Crap. I have a social outing today and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone” “I can’t do this” “What will other people think?”

2. Come up with multiple ways to challenge those thoughts. 

Instead of “I can’t do this” think of ways you can make it possible. Remind yourself of other times in your life that you thought you couldn’t succeed at something, but then did. Come up with a list of reasons that you CAN do it. 

3. Keep your motivation close to your heart. 

I’m sure I’ll do a whole blog post on why I am doing his at some point. Regardless of why I am doing it, why are YOU? That’s what’s really important here. Be it health, environment, animals, some sort of weird texture thing that freaks you out, whatever. Find your reason and tell yourself it. Almost obsess over it (like in a healthy way? Not like all consuming this is affecting my life negatively sort of way, but remind yourself of it a lot). Make a dream board. Put a note in your phone. Social media. whatever helps, let it. 

4. Educate yo self

Honestly, I said earlier it’s taken me years to get as close to success as I am currently at (11 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes, 42 seconds, but who’s counting). But that’s not really true. This is part of step 2. Educating yourself. Learning about the health benefits. It also helps with motivation. Learning about all of this has HELPED ME to retrain my brain. it’s helped to motivated me. It’s helped me to get this far. 

There are some great books and documentaries out there. Skinny bitch was a life changing book for me. I also enjoy documentaries like what the fork, conspiracy, forks over knives. There are just so many. 

That’s all for today! If you are interested in some sustainability resources to help motivate a change of lifestyle, check out my post on sustainability.

5. Surround yourself with supports who will encourage you

My husband is such as miracle. It’s funny, when we first got together so many years ago and I started talking about the benefits of vegetarian or veganism he was like “Oh no. PLEASE do not do this to us”. When I mentioned actually planning to follow through with a 30 day challenge just 2 weeks ago he was like “Sign me up. I am so in”. 

I guess while I was educating myself I was also educating him. 

Not everyone is all into that thought. And that’s okay. This isn’t about trying to get others on board. It’s trying to make changes that you yourself want to make. Social media is a great place to find supports. And with vegetarian and vegan diets becoming more and more popular it’s almost hard not to meet someone at a party or work or in the neighborhood who doesn’t live a similar lifestyle. 

6. Remind yourself that screwing up is part of life and that you haven’t failed, you’ve learned a new lesson. 

Surviving step 2 is going to be one of the hardest parts of making some of these changes. We are literally our own worst weapon. Or enemy? whatever. you know what I mean. Our thoughts depict our actions and our actions determine our outcomes. Don’t beat yourself up if it didn’t work out the first, second, twelfth time you’ve had no success. (trust me, you are still GETTING something out of each and every try). Think of it almost like a journey. Success doesn’t happen over night. It’s taken me years. 

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY!

I’d love to hear how it’s been for you. Has it been hard? Easy? Somewhere in between? What challenges did you have and how did you overcome them. What would you add to this list? Is there any challenge that you are thinking of trying? Let me know below!

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4 Comments

  1. I know you knew at the time but I don’t know if you remember, but I actually went vegetarian and mostly vegan (used a lot of vegan substitutes for milk, butter, mayo, etc.) for a semester in college and I felt GREAT. It was such a noticeable difference.

    One tip I would add is that it’s okay to use frozen veggies if the thought of buying fresh and worrying about using them before they go bad and all the work involved in preparing them stresses you out. They’re usually cheaper too for people who are trying to do this on a budget. There might be some health benefits to using fresh instead (I’m not sure, you would know better than me) and depending on what you’re using them for, fresh might taste better (like if you’re going for roasted veggies, it’s gotta be fresh), but buying up a bunch of bags of frozen veggies at about 75 cents a pop and having them on hand makes it a lot easier.

    I would also add that stir-fry is a GREAT option. I had stir fry a few times a week while I was doing this in college and always steamed in water instead of cooked in oil. The great thing about it is that if you live with someone who doesn’t want to go vegetarian, you can always make chicken or shrimp or whatever on the side and add it into their stir fry but keep yours free of animal products. It also works well with frozen veggies which keeps the cost down and the time/effort to prepare it very low.

    1. Thanks for the tips! I love seeing other peoples ideas! So I have actually read a lot about the benefits of frozen veggies vs not and one thing I will say is that getting the veggies in is more important than having fresh or organic. Now don’t get me wrong. I DEFINITELY try to get organic when I can(Aldis is the only place I can afford to do so). But when it comes to budgeting and health, it’s so much better to have veggies regardless of what form they are. I know one of the most daunting things for me as I’ve been making lifestyle changes and trying to eat healthier was when I first started. Everything I saw online was raw, organic, non-gmo, buy fresh and local. And I was like… wow. I can’t afford all that. If I can’t do it right, I may as well just get Mcdonalds. That’s a lot cheaper anyway. But realistically, everyone has to make their choice based off of what their needs are. No one should put someone down for having frozen veggies instead of fresh, or organic vs conventional. Your body needs nutrients (and yes, fresh and organic do have more nutrients than non-organic or frozen). But i have also read that frozen does not take away that many nutrients. Regardless, get the veggies in and try not to worry too much about the method. IF down the line you have more money or free time and WANT to make even more changes, awesome. But it is so much more important to get the vitamins and minerals we need.

      Sorry that was kind of a rant. But good tip! Thanks!

  2. Love this! I’ve been vegetarian for a while (like a year and some change). At first restaurants did seem daunting but it helped me learning to be more vocal about what I wanted. Ask for variations of menu items without meat, they’ll make them for you. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that if I mess up it doesn’t mean I not a vegetarian anymore or that I’m not living up to my values/goals. Sometimes a sneaky piece of bacon gets in your salad or the restaurant said the soup was vegetarian but it uses chicken broth. It happens and it’s okay, nothing is undone; just keep moving forward.

    1. I agree 100 percent! And it goes beyond our diet as well. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. It’s okay to have made days or make a mistake!

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