Owing to the horrible findings of extensive researches, increasingly more and more people are shirking meat completely to opt for a bona fide vegetarian life. However, despite the innumerable benefits afforded by a pure vegan, no meat diet, it is “easier said than done” to change a lifetime of dietary habits. You can’t expect someone to swap a succulent steak or burger for pulverized soybeans in a blink. Some people quit cold Turkey but owing to the lack of consistency and perseverance, they find their resolve wavering. If you are like most people, the transition can be daunting. Here’s how you can gradually ease into a no meat diet without resorting to drastic measures:
Starting Out On A No Meat Diet
1) Have One or Few Meatless Nights per Week
Studies have revealed that if Americans eliminated meat for even a single night in a week, it would be tantamount to removing 40 million cars from the road for a year, thereby giving rise to the meatless Monday initiative. It goes to show our extensive and relentless consumption of meat and should serve as an eye opener. If your goal is to go on a no meat diet completely, start skipping meat for subsequently more days a week, adding a day after every few weeks. When you have vegetarian pizza, burritos, pasta, and chili, you are less likely to feel the void left by that extra 8 ounces of pork!
2) Seek out Vegan Versions of Your Favorite Grub
Once you start your transition in to a no meat diet, you would find yourself surrounded by a plethora of faux meat and dairy products out there, such as Gardein for meat substitute, almond milk for pure milk, Daiya for cheese substitution and whole soy yogurt instead of regular yogurt. You can toss tofu or beans in your stir fry, or even grill Portobello mushrooms to incorporate succulent fleshiness to your meals.
Mushrooms, Broccoli, cauliflower, and Artichokes are meaty vegetables which add bulk to your meals, and provide fiber, protein and utmost satisfaction. Roast them, Toss them on pizza toppings, or integrate them in any dish that uses meat. Winter squash and sweet potatoes make for perfect salad toppers instead of chicken, and help to induce a feeling of fullness, so that you avoid filling up on processed foods that are devoid of any nutrition.
3) Incorporate Versatility
When one talks of a no meat diet, unsavory images of salads and veg burgers conjure up. Yikes!
However, remember that a no meat diet is not only restricted to those, otherwise it would get monotonous and devoid of any nutritional or gastronomic bliss after the novelty wanes out. It is important to try new dishes and infuse them with hearty flavors and herbs to keep yourself motivated and your taste buds satisfied.
You can add exciting flavors to tofu or vegetable that you would use in a meat dish and love the savor of your favorite dishes without the meat. For instance, you can still enjoy Sloppy Joes, just make them vegan instead (no fake meat included). Try to rotate through versatile meals and jot down the ones you enjoy.
Peruse through recipe sites and exquisite cookbooks to find inspiration for your next meat-free meal. Baked Ziti, Veggie Lo Mein, Falafel, Lasagna, Puttanesca, Quinoa Soup with Avocado and Corn, Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili, Ratatouille, Macaroni and Cheese, Stuffed Peppers Pasta, Pumpkin Orzo with Sage, Black Bean Burrito Bake, vegetable Pizza, Tomato and Bread Soup, and Roasted Veggie Sandwich are a few delectable ideas to get you started!
4) Skip Meat before Dinners
Much similar to meatless Mondays, skimping on meat before dinner limits your meat consumption to only one meal a day. How difficult can it be to curb bacon from your morning feasts, substitute grilled eggplant in your chicken Panini, or purchase the lovely deli’s Italian bean soup instead of the admittedly lame chicken noodle?
Try the routine for a few days to see how it works for you and look up recipes that would make your choices a joy instead of a regret. A great place to start is to try one or two servings of animal protein a week with vegetarian protein sources, such as eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you must have meat for dinner, try cooking savory dishes that use meat sparingly, such as oriental and ethnic cuisine!
5) Don’t Make Meat the Star of Your Dishes
There’s nothing like a cheese-oozing burger but eating one can often have severe repercussions on your body. Relegating meat to secondary ingredients or side dishes ensures that you still relish that mouthful of beefy goodness without the detrimental effects, such as in soups and chili.
Purely for health benefits, it is recommended that you don’t gorge on a serving of meat that is larger than a deck of cards. This means that you fill the rest of your plate with fruits, vegetables and beans. Lentils and Beans are loaded with B Vitamins, protein, and essential fiber. They add to vegetarian dishes, just like meat, so you feel satiated for longer. Toss them with seeds, rice, nuts or grains and you have a complete protein containing the nine essential amino acids.
Bonus: Adding a splash of chicken or beef stock to a vegetarian dish would help imbue it with bucket-loads of meaty flavors.
6) Choose Sustainable, Local, or Organic Meat
Unfortunately, most of the Animal products we consume come from farms, which are an environmentalist’s nightmare. Next time you crave that bite of meat, put your dollar to good worth by helping small farmers who care more for animal welfare and specialize in pasture-raised meats. Granted it’s more expensive than your grocery store meat but remind yourself that you’d compensate by eating less meat.
7) Keep Yourself Informed
Why did you decide to go on a no meat diet in the first place? Maybe because a vegan diet is anti inflammatory, helps shape a healthy intestinal microbiome, lowers the risk factor for Diabetes, or drops your blood cholesterol by up to 35%. It’s imperative that you keep reiterating that information in your mind frequently so that your resolve doesn’t shake. Read up on articles that rave about the demerits of meat and also the ones which boast of the health benefits of a vegan diet.