Long-term vegetarians - got any great tips for newbies? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-25-2012, 11:38 AM
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Hey, I'm working on an article for new vegetarians at VB - one that won't get lost in the ongoing forum threads. It's going to be based on VB member tips - i.e. best tips from other vegetarians. So obviously, I wanted to get some cool member tips. 

 

If you've got a great tip for someone who would like to go vegetarian, leave it in this thread. Oh, and it would be nice if you also put how long you'd been vegetarian. For example, if I was leaving a tip, I'd say...

 

16+ years vegetarian: Then post my tip here.

 

Oh, if you've only been a vegetarian for a short while, but plan on sticking with it, also leave a tip if you like. 


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#2 Old 10-26-2012, 09:58 AM
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More than  55 years (since birth): Try to make a routine of your meals. You don't need to invent a new meal every day.


My usual answer: I have never heard a convincing reason to eat meat.
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#3 Old 10-26-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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I've been vegetarian for a few months, so I think, while I'm not exactly long-term yet, I have recently experienced the transition.

 

My Tip: Do it for ethical reasons. While I also recognise the health benefits to a vegetarian diet, it is the only diet I've been able to stick to (and I've done so with relative ease), because I'm not tempted to just 'have a little bit of meat'.

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#4 Old 10-26-2012, 03:14 PM
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My Tip: Do it for the right reason. The animals. Don't get me wrong. It is also good for your health and the environment, but ultimately the animals are the DIRECT, OPPRESSED victims of people's choice to eat meat. They are unwilling participants. Also watch the Speech by Gary Yourofsky if you need some empowerment <3

I have been vegan for almost 3 years.
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#5 Old 10-28-2012, 12:29 PM
 
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Do it because you want to, not because you feel 'obliged' to.

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#6 Old 10-28-2012, 03:04 PM
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These are great tips so far guys. Thanks :) I'll be including all of them. 


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#7 Old 10-28-2012, 05:19 PM
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17 years: 1) don't beat yourself up over little mistakes and 2) always have a snack with you so you always have the option to say "no thank you!"
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#8 Old 10-29-2012, 02:27 AM
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19 years:

 

1. Don't feel like you have to miss your old favourite meals, try making spaghetti bolognaise, chili etc with vegetarian mince or lentils, make sure you keep your diet interesting so you are more likely to stick with it.

 

2. Join a local veggie or vegan group for support and to make new friends.

 

3. Try some of the vegetarian food you can buy in the stores, they seem to be bringing out new tasty food all the time as meat-free eating is becoming more mainstream.

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#9 Old 10-29-2012, 04:30 AM
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Go ethnic! Sometimes it's easier to find vegetarian options in non-American restaurants. Try Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Indian, Pakistani, Italian or Moroccan.
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#10 Old 10-29-2012, 05:03 AM
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30 odd years


One thing that has been discussed in the past was, don't tell yourself that you can never have a certain food again, like if your favourite food was a bacon butty, just think in the present, and take each day as it comes.
If you tell yourself you can never have something again, it might make you sad....think of it as always being a choice. I felt that way about cheese; it was always my choice, and now I enjoy the subs enough, and have moved away from missing some foods so much, not to be sad.....not to be that bothered...I think about things like Mars Bars, but there are subs out there if I wanted one....bit expensive but they are there.

Some people might prefer a commitment, and that might suit some people better, but if they get sad, then they should maybe start taking each day as it comes....never say never, eh...
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#11 Old 10-29-2012, 09:43 AM
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Try not to rely on high fat dairy products. Choose a vegan option of a certain food if there is one available and affordable. Educate yourself about the benefits of veganism. Try to lnclude more raw food in your diet if you don't already do that.
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#12 Old 10-30-2012, 02:39 AM
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24 years vegetarian, 1 year vegan

 

My suggestions:

1. Never eat soup you do not cook yourself. Many people and restaurants, will try to fool you with their meat-based stock.

2. Speak up. Ask questions. Be assertive....about what you are being served.

3. Beans are your friends. Experiment by adding different kinds of beans to recipes.

4. Never eat gravies.

5. Read labels.
 

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#13 Old 10-30-2012, 06:20 AM
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Educate yourself on nutrition and AR issues
Never give up, progress takes time
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#14 Old 11-01-2012, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poppy View Post

17 years: 1) don't beat yourself up over little mistakes and 2) always have a snack with you so you always have the option to say "no thank you!"
i second this

14 year vegetarian/2 year vegan:
make it a habit to be prepared (i always carry lunabars)
explore new foods
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#15 Old 11-03-2012, 01:33 AM
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Thank you everyone for the tips! They'll all be useful. 


~ Jennifer
 
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#16 Old 11-05-2012, 02:09 AM
 
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Thanks!!! I am a somewhat new vegetarian and I am having trouble keeping a vegetarian diet.

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#17 Old 11-05-2012, 07:03 AM
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Welcome Violet :) 


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#18 Old 11-05-2012, 07:20 AM
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vegetarian just over 4 years.

 

My suggestions:

 

1. Try to have a plan before you go vegetarian, as it will be easier to maintain if you have some idea of what you are going to eat for 3 meals a day, plus snacks.  

 

If you have to start "today" then buy a book or research on the internet right away.   You need to know what you need to eat to stay healthy.

 

2.  Learn to cook.  Convenience foods are great for backups, but they are too expensive to live on.  Plus most are high in sodium plus other additives.

 

Don't be afraid to try new foods.  There are so many foods I never ate before becoming vegetarian (lentils, chickpeas, couscous, quinoa, edamame) that are now staples in my diet.  And don't feel bad if something you cook is a disaster.   You won't like everything you try, but some you will love!

 

Make google your friend.  There are so many delicious recipes online.   It has to be a million times easier to become vegetarian now than before the internet.

 

3. Don't make a big deal about it to people other than those who will be cooking/eating the same meals you do.   Co-workers / friends don't need to know right away.  Share info if they seem interested but don't tell people they are wrong to eat meat no matter how strongly you feel about it.  It won't make most people more open to the idea.   Do share your food and recipes though.   My co-workers are always telling me how good my lunches smell.

 

4. Don't feel you *have* to watch the "meet your meat" videos or read about the awful conditions on factory farms.  Seeing the horror wasn't necessary for me.  And try not to think about all the meat you've eaten in your life.  You can't change the past.

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#19 Old 11-05-2012, 10:52 AM
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5 years here.  Trying lots of new recipes up front and finding some good stand-bys made me feel very comfortable with the switch.  Once I had a nice rotation of meals I liked, I knew it was sustainable.

 

Better understanding nutrition is a big one too, I think.  I read The New Becoming Vegetarian and showed my Dietition my food log.  I was doing things right but I just needed to hear that confirmation.

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#20 Old 11-05-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by veggielady View Post

 

3. Don't make a big deal about it to people other than those who will be cooking/eating the same meals you do.   Co-workers / friends don't need to know right away.  Share info if they seem interested but don't tell people they are wrong to eat meat no matter how strongly you feel about it.  It won't make most people more open to the idea.   Do share your food and recipes though.   My co-workers are always telling me how good my lunches smell.

 

This was going to be my tip!  When I went vegetarian 2 years ago I kept it to myself for about a month after starting.  That helped me to feel comfortable with the change and confident that I was able to do it before I faced the inevitable questions from people.  And again, as veggielady says, when you do discuss it with people then don't get all preachy about what they eat.  Just focus on the fact that it's your choice and that you personally don't feel comfortable with eating meat anymore.

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#21 Old 11-14-2012, 03:04 PM
 
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Great idea!

 

17 years vegetarian, 1,5 years vegan, makes 18,5 years.

 

1. Don't give a sh** about what others say. Follow your heart!

2. Don't argue, don't say "I'm vegetarian/vegan now" when you just started and you're still not sure. It's less pressure and you don't have to defend yourself if you just say "no, thank you." The "v-word"  is for later, when you`re ready to argue and to defend yourself.

3. Don't only substitute meat. Try new recipes from all over the world which are tradionally vegetarian/vegan, so you won't be disappointed by the taste of mock-meat etc.

4. Reassure yourself frequently, for example by watching things like earthlings. Never forget why you started being veg*an.

5. Don't substitute meat by more cheese and other dairy products. It's bad for your health. Fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes (red lentils!) are your friends.

6. Find veggie friends, real life or online. Maybe you'll need support.

7. Don't be preachy before you're really sure what you're doing.

8. Watch nice videos on youtube from time to time, like farm sanctuary vids. that will help you not to get too depressed (and there is going to be a time where you are going to feel really bad - lonely, helpless, depressed). Go to a sanctuary, pet a rescued animal. Or better, adopt one.

9. Take your own food with you if you're not sure to find a ve*an option where you're going.

10. Cook for your friends. Convince them by cooking fine meals.

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#22 Old 11-20-2012, 04:42 PM
 
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Some helpful DO's and DON'Ts

 

1. Do start-off gradually. - If you want this change to be permanent, you need to train yourself to let go off meat and this takes time and practice. When I first started, my initial goal was to eat as little meat as possible. I didn't buy any meat products at home, but eating out was a bigger challenge. So during my first month, I was eating some type of meat about once or twice a week. Gradually, I started getting stronger (emotionally) and was able to reduce to once every couple of weeks, then about once or twice a month. Eventually you will be craving it less and less until it stops feeling as a diet and actually becomes a lifestyle.

 

2. "Don't ask, don't tell". - The first time I tried to become a vegetarian I wasn't successful, mainly because I went public about it way too quickly. I actually went ahead and posted on my Facebook: "Decided to become a vegetarian". BIG mistake. The problem with "coming out of the closet" too quickly is that most meat-eaters will NOT support you at all. They will question your decision; they will give you all kinds of reasons why you "need meat" (mostly people who have done little or no research at all); they will say things like: "I bet you won't last a month". The problem is that, at this point, you are not strong yet and it's very easy to get discouraged (especially when you are fighting meat cravings). The last thing you need is your cousin rubbing all over your face (on purpose) how delicious grandma's turkey is and how it is a shame that you won't eat it.

 

Until you reach a point where you feel strong enough to let people know, I suggest you use any of these excuses when you decline a meat product:

 

    - Your stomach has been upset and you are worried it might make you sick.

    - (If only red meat being served) Say that red meat has been making you sick, and you are trying to  

      cut back (this happens to a lot of people, so it's easy to believe).

    - (If only fish being served) say you are allergic to seafood.

    - Say you had a large meal and you are still full, and you will just have some of the salad (or  

      whatever meatless food being served).

 

You can also avoid excuses altogether and simply say "No, thank you". Do whatever works best for you.

 

3. Do take it one day at a time. - Know that at some point you will have a little "splurge". Don't beat yourself about it. Tomorrow is another day. Avoid thoughts like: "I will NEVER be able to eat meat again". "Never" and "forever" are really strong words and as humans, we don't respond very well to forbidden things (makes us want them more). Think that you are doing your best to avoid meat as much as possible. But if on a certain occasion you are really craving it, and you do tumble, tomorrow is another day and no one needs to know (it will be our little secret). If all people cut back their meat consumption by 60%, that would still make a huge difference. So keep in mind that the little mistakes here and there are minimal compared to the difference you are making just by being an "imperfect" vegetarian.

 

4. Don't preach. - We hate to be preached-on by meat-eaters about how "vegetarians lack enough protein", or "killing plants is the same as killing animals", or "the reason you get sick is because you need meat". They hate being preached-on by us as well. We want them to respect our lifestyle (and how we treat and feed our bodies), we have to give the same courtesy in return. Once you have gone public, do lead by example and if they ask (and if you feel like answering), do give your reasons as a personal life choice. Trust me, actions go further than words. 

 

5. Do what works best for you. - There isn't a recipe. It is a personal journey and you will learn as you go. Some other helpful tricks:

 

    - Try to cook at home as much as possible and avoid eating out.

    - Explore different types of foods (asian restaurants usually have a lot of vegetarian options).

    - Avoid relying exclusively on meat-imitation products, since they might disappoint. Try beans,  

      lentils, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, nuts (including almond butter or          

      peanut butter).

    - Buy packs of nuts and carry them with you for "protein emergencies" (i.e. went out for lunch with

      friends and the only vegetarian option in the menu is a basic  

      lettuce-and-tomato salad).

    - Always ask the waiter/waitress for vegetarian options if the menu doesn't have any. Sometimes

      they will customize something to accommodate. 
 

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#23 Old 11-27-2012, 03:22 PM
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I've been a veggie since birth so 30yrs plus a few months.

Tip: Eat your fruits and veggies!

A bit obvious I know but many vegetarians consume a meatless junk-food diet. As a principle stick with a whole food - plant based diet. If you stick with this principle and eat a colorful variety of plants you don't need to worry about nutritional values.

Jennifer curious if you have compiled your article yet?
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#24 Old 12-02-2012, 08:29 AM
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Wow, you guys are like pros at these tips!

I've been vegan for almost 3 months now, and I was vegetarian for a year and half before that.

I was just giving some advice to a newbie, so I will add that post and my personal tips which got me thru and will keep me going... smiley.gif


What made me decide to go vegan was that I was already cutting out many dairy products and replacing it with substitutes and alternatives (like coconut milk, almond milk, soy), and I had been eating less and less of eggs, so I figured I might as well push myself to go all the way, since I was already close to that point.

Rewinding backwards, what made me decide to go vegetarian was my bf wanted to cut out red meats for health reasons, and along the way we entirely cut out all meats and decided to try vegetarianism. I would say what helped us stay on track and why we stuck to everything was because of watching numerous health and environmental and governmental and agriculturral and veg*n documentaries.

We became very educated and informed and aware of what really goes on in factory farms, how it affects our environment, how the FDA operates with the government and Big Pharma, our health as a nation with cancers and diseases and how it directly connects with the foods that we eat, genetically engineered foods (GMOs); we learned a LOT.

Our compassion also grew tremendously, and now our 'reason' for being veg*n is always tied closely with animal welfare, along with health and environmental aspects.

So, we made new decisions. We shopped and ate smarter, buying organic foods and watching our balance of vitamins nutrients calories fats carbs cholesterol etc, we became more healthy, spread the news to our family and friends, and now we have gotten three people to follow us in the path towards good health and values. And now I'm a step farther since I became vegan smiley.gif

I have some great tips for you for starting out, starting to experiment, testing the new, if you're interested. There were certain approaches I took to make it less complicated for my bf and myself when planning meals, eating out, and grocery shopping. I can give you lists of documentaries to watch (Netflix helps!), advice on recipes for the transition, beginners grocery lists (not overwhelming with the vitamin stuff because I am not an expert at that, just fridge and pantry stocking for meals), and mental outlook strategies on what your attitude is about what you're eating.


My attitude when I started out on what I decided to eat was "I don't need to stop eating this or start eating that to be vegetarian."

I made my usual pasta dishes, and added more veggies in place of the dead-cow balls; I made my sloppy joes with tvp or pinto beans and veggies on the side instead of fries or Mac n Chz; I made gourmet grilled cheese with spinach, tomato, onion, pepper, and veggie tomato soup on the side; I made couscous with extra veggies instead of dead chicken; and little by little, I noticed that it became easier to plan meals.

I was becoming more creative with my cooking, because I wasn't limited to what compliments what main dead animal dish, but instead I had endless options to throw altogether into a meal. When you don't limit yourself, your options become limitless.

Also, I changed my mental attitude; I started changing my vocabulary on what 'meat' is, because I wanted to make sure that I wasn't allowing myself to disconnect from the reality. I don't say meat, or pork or poultry; I say whatever dead animal it is because that is what it is. It helps me keep myself in check, I guess.

I agree on the tip to not tell everyone and their mom on FB, not until you're sure of yourself and ready to take the heat, but I would still encourage sharing your experience with some close friends or family that you already know WON'T judge you. Community veg support is great, but it's still nice to know those who were already in your life who know you on personal levels do support your decisions and respect you for it.

On the subject of not preaching, that can be touchy. I suggest if you are good at reading people, you may be able to know when it's ok and when it's better not to. Like friends who can take constructive criticism without being pissy with you, probably go for it. Or people you randomly meet who say 'I hope you aren't offended, but I'm going to order (dead animal).' I've found that if they seem conscious about their actions, they may be interested or more willing to hear your input and information on what they're eating, and they will generally get into the conversation and say 'wow I would like to try eating vegetarian for a week maybe and see how it goes', and at that point you can smile and pat yourself on the back!

For fridge and pantry stocking (when starting out), buy dairy alternatives, and foods that interest you as well as foods that might. Don't be afraid to try new foods, after all, you are trying a new lifestyle and new foods goes with that. Don't buy up junk foods. Do but buy healthy snacks like trail mixes with your fav nuts and berries and chocolates, fav fruits to snack on, yummy seasoned crackers with hummus or other types of spreads and dips, buy yourself rewards so that when you make that meal and whether it sucked or turned out great, you've got dessert to rely on smiley.gif

Don't force yourself to watch the videos to make yourself an animal loving fighting for their rights person, if that's not you. But, watch some videos anyway - because you still LEARN a lot about when your food comes from and the cancers and diseases all around you. Videos provide education and information, and having that knowledge will build and secure that confidence in how you take control of your life through many aspects, like diet and health and awareness and compassion.

Lastly, don't beat yourself about your past, Hakuna Matata. Don't get depressed about the madness in the world for too long. And embrace the inner peace you feel about your new decision, because it will strengthen your core being and keep you sure of the person you are in situations where you would otherwise question yourself in the face of others putting you down. Be proud of who you are and what choices you make, because they're yours and no one can take that away from you.

The end... smiley.gif
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#25 Old 12-28-2012, 06:12 PM
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Hey all,

 

Thanks for all the great comments and tips. It took a while to get it all compiled in an orderly fashion, but I finally did.

 

Top 12 Tips for New Vegetarians from Experienced VeggieBoards Members

 

I changed the wording slightly on some quotes, but only to make it clearer for a new vegetarian. Also, not everyone put how long they'd been vegetarian, so some of the names don't have a time after them. 

 

Lastly, if you just put years not if you're vegan or vegetarian, I either took a leap, filling in what I thought, based on what I know about people here or left it blank. If you look at the article and notice that I said you were a vegan and you're really a vegetarian, or something like that, and would like it changed, leave me a comment on this thread. 

 

Thanks again - the article ended up jam packed with the best tips ever. 


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