If you have decided to stop eating meat/reduce meat consumption that’s great and I’m very happy for you.
It is not an easy switch, in practical terms, and requires a lot of determination and patience. Mentally, you are already there, you have made your choice, now you just have to stick to it.
Couple of aspects you need to be prepared for (some of them may not apply to you):
Family – they tend to live in denial for quite some time. They’ll be trying to persuade you to try this or that ‘special’ and so delicious meat dish, just a little bit, as it surely can’t hurt… Just be consistent and they will come around, and accept the ‘new you’. You have the right to be different.
Organising your food – you will need to review your weekly/daily shopping list, to establish any changes in dry and fresh supplies you require. You will need to obtain some new herbs/spices, add some pulses (such as chickpeas, lentils etc) and re-organise your storage cupboards. This may seem a bit overwhelming at fist, but believe me, it can be done. It’s not that hard.
Friends teasing – if your friends do not support your decision, there is something wrong with your relationship. If they say they are worried about your health, that’s an easy one. There are numerous reasons why vegetarian diet is better for you, so you shouldn’t have any problems with defending your case. If, however, they are just purely not accepting the fact that you are becoming a vegetarian/vegan, ask yourself if they treat the same way every person they know which doesn’t like carrots, spinach or eggs. If they don’t then you’ve got to ask them why, if they do then you are facing a bigger problem with their ‘tolerance’ which needs to be addressed on a deeper level.
Some of them will vaguely know about the meat production and don’t like/agree with it, but they don’t want to hear or watch the details. Have you ever heard ‘I love meat too much’ reason for not wanting to change – you can only hope that one day they will reach the same conclusion as you. Be an inspiration, look good and feel great!!
Knowledge – before you start amending your diet, make sure you do your research. Logically you don’t want to be doing a ‘complete overnight switch’, as that would be too big of a shock for your body. If you just want to eliminate some foods containing mostly empty calories, then there is never a bad time. However, switching to a non-meat/diary diet needs to be done in stages, gradually, to allow your body to learn how to get the nutrients from different sources. It is also good to know the facts, if you get into discussion about vegetarianism with your family, friends or any other person.
Listen to your body – your body would normally indicate what is good for you. We are just not used to following our instincts when it comes to food, but that’s what you’ve got to learn. Once you start giving your body the proper nutrients, you won’t have the problems with any bad food cravings. It is only teh case when your body is malnourished, it will keep wanting more food. Be also aware of some addictive substances that are added to most of ‘ready meals’ such as flavour enhancers, like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), but also highly processed/refined sugar, fat and salt.
Health checks, including blood – make sure when you stop eating certain foods you are not depriving your body from essential nutrients. If you experience some worrying symptoms, see a professional In any case do occasional blood checks.
Need to ‘convince’ other people – this is not a cult or religion, don’t try to ‘fix’ people eating meat. Try not to get into arguments, respect everyone’s free choice, just be happy to share your knowledge and experience when approached, in a loving way.
Frustration – that’s one of the hardest parts to deal with. Once you discover and realise the ugly reality of meat and diary production, it is very hard emotionally to bear and carry on. Whatever you do, you feel that it’s never enough.
You need to accept that you are not responsible for other people’s actions, it won’t mean that you agree or approve. Remember, always ‘be the change you want to see in the world’! (Mahatma Gandhi)
Be yourself – it’s important to know what You want to do. Do whatever makes you happy and your heart is telling you. Don’t try to be a ‘health extremist’, obsessiveness in any format is not good. If you decide to stop eating meat just for one day in a week, that’s good too. However, I’m sure that once you feel the satisfaction of saving one life, you will not stop there, so many hundreds of lives can be saved yearly by simply switching your diet. Once you understand it fully, you will never eat another piece of ‘animal flesh’ again, you will feel this overwhelming love towards all living beings. And…
You will never look back!!