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My decision to become a vegetarian was less a choice and more an epiphany of sorts for me, an unprovoked and sudden release of the holds that my true addiction to meat had on me.<br><br>
I had tried to give up eating animals before but just could not shake the long-instilled habits and cravings that my childhood had imprinted on me. Although upon becoming an adult I started to lean towards more humane forms of meat, the amount of which I did eat was still alarming.<br><br>
So it was with great surprise and happiness that one day, all of a sudden, I became a true (lacto-ovo) vegetarian-no meat, no rennet, broth, etc. (to the best of my knowledge). Even better still was the passing of months without ANY cravings or troubles.<br><br>
Come time, a year has passed and suddenly these formerly non-existent cravings are becoming all too real and, quite frankly, maddening. I just pushed through it and tried not to be too hard on myself when I lapsed (a drunken hot dog here, "sneaking" a bit of bacon from my mom's cooking there), but after a few months of such issues I thought to at least try to curb it by adding some seafood to my diet only to finally totally capitulate and be eating fish and some type of other meat almost weekly. I am starting to panic.<br><br>
I am no longer a vegetarian and I do not know what to do. As my start into this lifestyle was so sudden and almost void of self control, I am worried that, so too, will be the circumstances of my ultimate and complete departure from it.<br><br>
Is there anyone with some compassionate advice or even experience with a similar situation that could help me? "Control yourself," while succinct, is not what I am looking for as I feel that this advice would be comparably successful as giving the same advice to a compulsive over-eater. I am not regularly eating meat (including fish), I just am overwhelmingly obsessed with thoughts to do so. Thank you in advance for any replies.
 

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Firstly, know that lots of people struggle with cravings when deciding to vegetarian or vegan. In most cultures we are surrounded with celebrations and family dinners with meat and dairy in them. You get comfortable and used to certain foods, and then it's strange when you're not eating them any more. I didn't have much trouble with meat, but cheese was killer for awhile (I even dreamt about cheese!). So, you're not alone. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br>
Do you have specific dishes or types of meat that you crave? Maybe we could offer some ideas for good substitutes.
 

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It might help to think about why you decided to become a vegetarian in the first place. You said you had an epiphany - was it a result of contemplating the issues related to meat-eating (compassion for animals, the ethics of taking lives for food when non-animal foods are available in abundance, environmental and resource issues, health concerns, spiritual considerations) or more a diffuse sense of being vegetarian just felt "right"? For me there was never any doubt once I was certain of the "whys".<br><br>
Another thing that helps is to interact with others who are also vegetarian, so you feel less isolated. Welcome to VB <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Doing the right thing takes practice.<br><br>
Try this: make a chart where you count up your vegetarian days. They do not need to be consecutive days of vegetarian eating, you're just trying to get lots of veg days. When you reach ten days you get a reward, 30 days another reward and so on. (make sure the rewards are veg - new shirt, concert tix, massage, special dessert, etc).<br><br>
Basically, set small attainable goals that add up to something huge.<br><br>
Remember, there are only two ways to change your life: quickly or slowly. Most of us do it slowly with two steps forward one step back. That's ok, we're still changing. Slow change is still change!
 

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Cravings are common - I've been vegetarian since I was 14, and vegan for about 8 months now. Every now and then, I'll walk past a greasy burger van and it'll smell appetising. I've got several ways of dealing with this.<br><br>
The first is to make a mock version of whatever I'm craving. Fake meats, marinated tofu, or a meatless version of whatever I felt like.<br><br>
The second is to think about - and I mean REALLY think about - eating that animal product. At the moment, my big thing is eggs. Every time I miss eggs, I think about eating an egg sandwich in all it's gooey, oozing, fatty detail, and mostly I stop wanting it. It's usually just a craving for my old comfort foods - the things that used to make me feel better after a bad day/when I was ill. I've worked on replacing these with different foods; not necessarily something similar (there's no vegan version of a fried egg), but something that makes me feel just as good.<br><br>
The third is for when my resolve really slips. I give myself a reminder of exactly why I am vegan; I watch something that reinforces my hatred of animal cruelty, such as meet your meat or earthlings. I usually cry and feel awful, but afterwards, the last thing I want anywhere near me is an animal product.<br><br>
Just remember, if you do slip up, don't beat yourself up. Don't think that one mistake means there's no hope and you may as well give up. Just make a mental note to put it right.
 

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Dont worry. I had that happen to me a couple of months back. I didnt give into the cravings but I tried extra hard to make some really meaty tasting meals until the cravings went away.<br><br>
I ate some extra cheese as well to keep myself on the wagon. I cant remember what I made, at one point I made some bean and mushroom burgers, which were delicious. I also have my lentil bolognaise as a staple, it tastes pretty meaty. I also recommend Snobby Joe from Veganomicon.<br><br>
I made Portobello Pepper "Steak" Stew from Appetite for Reduction and that was satisfyingly meaty too, though I used field mushrooms rather than portobello and I had no red wine so used white. I also left out the fennel seeds.<br><br>
Another thing you can do is look at veg cookbooks. Buy some. Buy some with photographs especially, that has been helpful to me. I also recommend getting a library card, you can borrow them from the library, I ended up ordering the first two I borrowed.<br><br>
Remember you can always start again.... : )
 

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One thing that makes a big difference for me is keeping my fridge and my cupboards well stocked. If I have LOTS of tasty delicious vegan food to choose from, I don't think too much about the old foods I used to enjoy. I'm too focused on the new things I enjoy that are right in front of me. When I haven't been grocery shopping and the cupboard is a bit bare, I start to think a lot more about my old comfort foods. I don't know if you're in the US, but if you are, maybe a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or some other place that stocks lots of delicious veggie options is in order. Spoil yourself a bit with some great new veggie foods!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>greenish</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3010609"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
One thing that makes a big difference for me is keeping my fridge and my cupboards well stocked. If I have LOTS of tasty delicious vegan food to choose from, I don't think too much about the old foods I used to enjoy. I'm too focused on the new things I enjoy that are right in front of me. When I haven't been grocery shopping and the cupboard is a bit bare, I start to think a lot more about my old comfort foods. I don't know if you're in the US, but if you are, maybe a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or some other place that stocks lots of delicious veggie options is in order. Spoil yourself a bit with some great new veggie foods!</div>
</div>
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What's not in your cupboards is important too. I got rid of everything in my house that I no longer wanted to eat, which included not only meat, dairy & eggs. I got rid of everything processed, oils, white flower, white rice, chips, pop etc. Everything. When I get hungry I can't help but eat healthy.
 

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First of all, thank you for trusting us with this. That tells me that you are honest and that this struggle is something you truly want to deal with.<br><br>
Remember this, cravings are part of a larger mental process. The great religions recognize that it's the forbidden fruit process at play. You don't really want something till you can't have it. It was also true of Romeo and Juliet. It's totally natural. So, don't beat yourself up too much. That actually makes it worse. It's true with any addiction. I think meat is an addiction.<br><br>
So far, I have had no interest in eating meat. I am lovin the veggie thing (going on 5 months). I think the reason I'm liking it is that I eat what I want and don't allow boredom to start to set in. I have two dishes that I love always.. Mexican vegetarian fajitas and Thai yellow curry with veggies and tofu. If I see a "I'm getting bored with this" peaking through the curtain I go get myself some vegetarian fajitas at Mi Pueblo. They are really great. I always eat them and think to myself that they taste way better than meat.<br><br>
I'll tell you one other thing. When I started it wasn't my intention to go vegetarian. I just sorta stopped eating meat. I can't explain why exactly. But, after a month or so I was at the coliseum for the RV show. I got hungry and ordered a cheese burger. It would probably have been good a month earlier but, after eating nice, fresh veggies all the time the burger made me sick. It was greasy and just grossed me out. I actually threw it away.<br><br>
What I have come to realize is that I have decided that for me, meat is gross.<br><br>
See, the truth is, in my experience, that we decide what we will believe about everything. Most folks think you get convinced by the evidence. However, on many issues evidence is in the eyes of the beholder. As a person who studied Buddhism for several years I have discovered that, for myself, I can decide what I will believe about whatever you got. So, if you want to be a vegetarian you can decide how you feel about meat and the whole process that brings it to your mouth. When I see meat I see the whole process that got it there. I can't, in my mind, separate the meat from the slaughterhouse. Just like, as a person who has studied Buddhism when I see a table I see the tree that it came from, and the rain that fell on the tree, and the sun and the sky and the soil. Nothing exist in a void. Ultimately we are all connected in many ways. The steak was a beef cow. The cow was slaughtered to make the steak. The beef cow had a mom and a dad, it was born and it grew. It grew from the grass and feed that it ate, aided by the steroids that it was fed.<br><br>
Death isn't a bad thing necessarily. Every living thing is here temporarily. I just choose not to participate in all the things that come with it in the life experience of the cow, or the chicken, turkey or pig, etc.. Besides the natural process there's the fear, the suffering, etc.. In the modern world most meat comes from farming situations that I'm just not crazy about.<br><br>
Plus, for me specifically, part of the reason is spiritual. I have seen too much cruelty in my life. My heart has grown tender, especially for the defenseless and downtrodden. I need a clean conscience. My path needs as much kindness as I can muster. As I strive for that I have chosen that no animals will die so that I can eat. Don't get me wrong. If I needed meat to survive I would eat it. But, it's not needed so, I wont eat it. The animals wont be killed for my plate.<br><br>
I figure if I live 40 more years that would save a ton of chickens and a few cows and pigs. I've never been a big fish eater so... I'd rather have tofu anyway.
 

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No words of wisdom, I feel you pain <b>blodj89.</b> Just know I think everyone here wants to help, your not alone. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br>
Also I want to say thanks to falconbrother, your post was very nice, and helpful. (to me anyway)
 

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seriously feel your pain. i, too, struggle with this issue especially when attending social events. i love the suggestion of counting the veg days! will do that and certainly set attainable goals. thanks for your honesty, it gives us the freedom to be real with one another.
 

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This may sound a little strange, but maybe you don't have to take it so seriously. But continue to experiment and find more vegetarian foods you like and new combinations of vegetable dishes. You can use pasta, beans, corn chips, whole grain bread, fallafel, coscous, and use any of these combined with almost any vegetables and then use almost any seasonings or herbs. There really are many many possible combinations for good meals. If you do discover more veggie meals you really like then maybe it will be easier for you to stick with it. I've been lacto vegetarian for thirteen years now. I really don't have a desire for any kind of meat, in fact, it seems kind of gross to me.<br><br>
Bryan
 
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