If the title of the article sums up your life right now, you’re not alone.
We’ve been surprised (okay, delighted!) to hear from friends around the world, that after watching Netflix’s documentary Seaspiracy they’ve been put off eating fish for good. Even more surprisingly, it’s not just fish they’re cutting out, it’s meat altogether – a pretty incredible impact for a film that focuses on sustainability (or lack thereof) of most of the world’s practices around fishing & the oceans.
The thing that’s been most surprising to us, though, is the type of people it’s affected. It isn’t just the friends who were previously toying with the idea of becoming vegetarian, or those who had already boarded the ethical eating train, and were just hanging out at the pescatarian station until they were ready to travel all the way to vegan town.
No, this movie’s impact is so far and wide, that even the steak-eatiest, burger-smashiest types are fully overhauling their diets, in favour of the humble salad… and the feeling that they’re changing the world purely through their dietary choices.
But when you first venture into flesh-free territory and you’re still finding your footing, things can be a little daunting, and a question as basic as “what am I going to have for lunch today?” can feel complicated, particularly when your previous go-to was a salmon bagel.
Below we’ve put together a guide with some simple steps on what to do when you first turn veg, compiled by two sisters who can tell you that while sometimes you have to be thatperson at the dinner party that says they can’t eat what everyone else is, that this sacrifice doesn’t actually mean you have to give up delicious food… and besides, nothing tastes as good as the feeling of knowing what a great human you’re being!
- Suss out alternatives to your favourite foods.When you’re making changes to your diet for the good of animals & the planet, it doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly lost a taste for meat and fish. Take it from two people who had tuna-eating listed as one of their favourite things in their original blog bio, giving up your favourite foods can be tough! But there are oh so many alternatives out there now, from chickpea “tuna”, to vegie bacon & sausages, and of course Beyond Meat burgers. Head to your local health food store or even the vegan section at your local supermarket, and we guarantee you’re going to be spoilt for choice.
- Make a list of all the delicious things you can eat. While at first cutting out an entire food group can seem drastic, in actual fact when you think about it, a lot of your favourite foods are probably already meat-free. After all,French fries are vegetarian (and vegan!). So is pasta, pizza, fried rice (veggie of course), falafel, lots of curries… the list goes on! Create a list of all your fave dishes that can still stick around with your new diet, and little tweaks you can make to some old faves that will easily turn them vegetarian, and you can turn to it anytime you’re feeling confuddled about what to eat.
- Find new (and easy) recipes.If you’re anything like us, the thought of having to spend hours in the kitchen each day is a major hurdle to changing your diet, but luckily we’re not the first to walk this road, and many clever people have already clocked those hours in the kitchen for us. Accounts like @vegancanteen, @woon.heng, and @avantgardevegan are some of our faves to follow on Instagram, and once you fall into the hole of veg foodies on social media you’ll be hitting the follow button for days. We also love cookbooks like Quick & Easy by Deliciously Ella and Whole by Natural Harry, and food blogs like Minimalist Baker and Love & Lemons.
- Track your nutrition. If you’re worried about not getting enough of the good stuff like protein and iron… don’t be! Gram for gram, vegetables often have a higher iron content than foods like meat and eggs, and pumpkin & hemp seeds contain about the same amount of protein as beef and lamb. It can be a good idea to download a nutrition app like Cronometer when you’re first getting started, just to make sure you’re meeting all your nutrients & vitamins.
Be prepared. Avoid ending up eating peanut butter on toast for dinner every night by getting prepared in advance. If you’re the organised type, put your skills to good use with some meal planning, food prep at the beginning of the week, and even bulk freezing things like soups and curries. And always make sure your pantry is stocked with all your essential staples and veg alternatives. A little work in the short term is going to make things way easier in the long term.
- Make some veggie friends.We don’t mean make friends with salad (although you’re welcome to do that too), but it can be really helpful to make friends with people who are also hanging out in veg town. It’s great to have people to ask for tips and restaurant recommendations, plus it’s always nice to make friends with similar values. Start a Whatsapp group with fellow veg friends where you can swap recipes and great animal-alternative products (we actually have one ourselves!), go to a local veg cooking class, or join a Facebook group like Friendly Vegans in Melbourne.
Remember why you’re doing this. Whenever you’re feeling tempted to deviate from the veggie path, it can be helpful to come back to why you made this choice in the first place. You could write down an intention somewhere that you can read when you need to, or if it was a movie that inspired your change, you could watch it again. Some other movies we recommend watching are Cowspiracy, Dominion, and What the Health.
- Congratulate yourself. You’re making a choice to make a difference in this world, and that is pretty freaking incredible. Yay you! Go out for a celebratory Beyond burger to rejoice in your successes. You deserve it.
While things can feel complicated at first, to us, we see making a change to your diet as the simplest form of activism. This is the laziest protest you’ll ever attend. You’re already eating everyday, all it takes is a few simple tweaks, and voila! You’re basically Jane Fonda.
So go forth, and eat veg!
Jess and Stef xx