by Jess Warren
Going vegetarian is something that seems to be incredibly popular recently, with an estimated 3 million vegetarians in the UK. Yet, contrary to popular belief, it’s a change that is not too difficult to undertake.
One of the first things to consider is why you’ve decided to go vegetarian, and use this to motivate your change in diet. There are a whole range of reasons why somebody may choose a vegetarian lifestyle including improved health, environmental sustainability, and animal rights. It’s useful to consider how you’ll answer the expected questions from peers asking “why have you gone veggie?”, not only to satisfy their curiosity but also to continue to motivate yourself.
Another consideration to make in going veggie is that habits take on average 21 days to form, and so this lifestyle change is going to take time. Yet the change isn’t that hard, as long as you don’t punish yourself for slipping up. Perhaps allow yourself a month or two to phase meat out of your life slowly, removing different sources of meat one by one, and allowing yourself a cheat meal every now and again. Before you know it, these cheat meals will not seem as appetizing, and consuming meat will feel less attractive. One way of doing this is gradually using up meat you have stored in your freezer until it’s all gone, and from this point onwards, not buying anymore.
However, by cutting meat out of your diet, you are removing an obvious source of protein. It would be difficult going vegetarian if meat was the only source of protein available, but luckily for us rabbits, it’s not! You can reach your recommended intake of protein and iron through a range of beans and pulses, nuts, cereals (I’m not talking about Coco Pops here), and greens such as spinach and kale, or if kale doesn’t float your boat, dark chocolate also contains high levels of iron. Since altering your diet is going to be challenging with day-to-day temptations of a burger at Snack Shack, make yourself a filling breakfast such as scrambled eggs on toast, plus eggs are a brilliant source of protein as well. You could also experiment with meat substitutes such as Quorn Chicken, Soya Mince, or the well-loved Linda McCartney sausages.
Speaking of cooking, when going vegetarian, try to step away from the stereotype that meals should consist of meat and two veg, and you’ll end up creating much more enjoyable and interesting dinners for yourself. As a student, investing in a vegetarian cookbook may be beyond the budget, but there are many free apps that give recipe suggestions you can access too. This allows you to think a lot more about what you’re putting into your body, but also provides lots of fun, experimenting with recipes in the kitchen!
When shopping as a vegetarian, its often perceived to be cheaper, and it will be, unless you bulk buy fresh vegetables, and let them wilt away in your salad draw of the fridge; not exactly economical! Instead, try buying frozen vegetables, such as peas, sweetcorn, broccoli and spinach. Obviously not everything is available frozen, and fresh salad ingredients will always come useful, although arguably less so, when you’re sat shivering in the library and eating a Greek Salad. All that means, is that it’s time to try making soups instead, and taking them on-the-go in a thermos flask. You could even buy seasonal winter vegetables from your local farmers’ market, which will reduce shopping costs too.
Essentially, changing your diet to a vegetarian one isn’t difficult as long as you make achievable goals, think about the foods your putting into your body, and enjoy and experiment with cooking!