Advice from an Amateur Vegetarian

Ever since December 2015, I have been toying with the idea of reducing how much meat I eat. In a long-since abandoned blog series on my former site, I had planned to unveil a new habit for each day of December until I had 31 habits to spring into 2016 with. In both writing and hindsight, that plan was perhaps too ambitious – but deep in a memory box, the brainstorming papers still lie as proof of the first spark of going plant-based.

Time and time again, new years would roll around and I’d remind myself I’d like to reduce my meat intake – maybe with the fun alliterated inspiration of Meatless Mondays! – and yet, the dream never comes to fruition.

So imagine this repeating for three and a half years: I pledge that I will try to reduce my meat, I don’t do much to amend my situation, I continue to eat the same as I always do and the next bought of momentum picks me up to the top of the slide.

So what changed? What did I do differently in July 2019 that enabled me to write this post, celebrating my one and half months of going veggie?

I Gave Myself Time to Change

The biggest obstacle I encountered in going vegetarian is how it was going to impact my family. All five of us – my parents and two younger sisters – are constantly busy. Add in the fact that we already have to work around various gluten and lactose-free requirements, and you have a household that can’t spend a lot of time cooking and already has pressure in the kitchen. It sounds dramatic, but trying to factor in an aspiring vegetarian to an already jam-packed daily routine felt like a bit too much work to burden my family with. I didn’t want my goal to become a hindrance.

So, when summer rolled around, I saw the time off as an opportunity to cook for myself and experiment with different vegetarian recipes. I wouldn’t have to go to school in the mornings, so I could walk over to the shops, buy any extra vegetables I needed, and spend the early afternoon whipping up the latest meal before work in the evenings. I’d be using my time productively and going veggie – all without adding to the chaos of my family’s kitchen.

Since going vegetarian, I’ve discovered that it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be to update meals. Nowadays, my family has become quite thrifty in figuring out how to replace meat and protein on my plate. While I started off thinking I’d have to fend for myself – and being totally up to take on the kitchen for myself full-time – it’s nice being able to carry on life at home without much change to the clockwork.

I Let Myself Have Fun

Whenever I pondered on the ideas of quitting meat or sugar, a certain concern always popped into my mind: “Won’t I miss it? Won’t I be missing out?”

Nowadays that’s the most common comment I get about my veggie pledge: don’t you miss meat? And if I’m being honest, not really!

Since June, I started to switch out meat-based meals for vegetarian options. At prom, I opted for the eggplant parmesan – a delicious choice!; while ordering pizza, I created my new favourite concoction – alfredo sauce base, pineapple, onion and extra cheese: you’re welcome!; and even while out for an Indian buffet with my family to celebrate my graduation, I tried some of the underrated vegetarian curries.

Never in any of those scenarios did I feel like I was lacking something. To tell you the truth, the veggie options looked more appealing to me. I didn’t feel like I was substituting an enjoyable meal for something without meat. I think that’s what most people find off-putting about going vegetarian: how can they recreate classics with a plant-based twist?

The way I tried to see it was going plant-based was abouting adding more vegetarian options in my diet rather than taking meat options away. So I took to Pinterest to find some unique dishes I’d never tried before.

If you know me, you’ll know how utterly obsessed I am with Pinterest – it’s my favourite place to be! I do admit, however, that I can get carried away with curating my boards that I never use the resources I so fervently collect. So, I made a little rule for myself that I’d only pin recipes with the nifty little caption that gives you the list of ingredients for its accompanying recipe. Seeing how much of what I’d need to make the mouthwatering meals I saw would be an easy way for me to actually go ahead and experiment with vegetarian cooking.

I Found Myself Momentum

I like implementing new habits on the first days – be it the week, the month, or the year. And although, as aforementioned, I gradually drifted to being mostly plant-based throughout June, I decided to go fully vegetarian on the first of July. It made sense to me to have a clear distinction so there would be obvious milestones to celebrate! Being able to congratulate yourself for being vegetarian for a whole month gives you the next push of momentum to continue on forward with this change.

Moreover, I gave myself a reason. While I’ve always liked the idea of going veggie, I specifically decided to really go for it so I could make a positive impact on the environment. After reading research on how the meat industry impacts the planet, I took it upon myself to go vegetarian. Yes, I know, one person won’t make a huge difference. And yet, it is something. I stand by this belief. Even if I can’t change the world, I can at least try change myself.

My instagram posts are notoriously sporadic, but I do like to post occasional photos of the aesthetic – and now vegetarian! – food I eat. Make sure you’re following @/teenageadoxography to see those pictures! You can also check out my beloved Pinterest – and my much-loved veggie board; they’re linked above.

Thanks for reading this post! Let me know your thoughts on going vegetarian – or even vegan (coming soon to a Chanel near you!)

– Chanel

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