Giving up animal products might sound daunting, but it’s not as hard as you think. In fact, we can guarantee it’s easier than trying to choose what to watch on Netflix. Whether you want to give up everything at once or transition slowly over time, you’re still making a huge impact and should be very proud of even being here in the first place.
So, How Do You Start the Transition?
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Going meat-, egg-, and dairy-free doesn’t have to be hard, and there are plenty of options in terms of which type of vegetarian or vegan you are. After first deciding to go veggie, you might wonder what you’re even going to be able to eat. But to start off (and calm your nerves), think of it this way: For vegetarians, you’re basically just removing the meat out of what you already normally eat. Instead of your chicken burrito bowl at Chipotle, you’ll devour an even-more-delicious burrito bowl loaded with black beans, brown rice, and veggies. And for vegans, you’ll do the same but also use simple substitutes for the dairy and eggs in food you eat. See? Easy and delicious.
How to Go Cruelty-Free Without Going Crazy
Ready to do this? (The answer is yes — yes you are!) Use this fool-proof way of transitioning into a vegetarian or vegan diet and you’ll be changing your Instagram bio to a bunch of cow emojis in no time.
1. Do some research. Just like you are now! To get yourself extra ready, in addition to reading up on your soon-to-be diet, also spend some time watching documentaries like Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, and Earthlings. They’ll do nothing but reinforce your decision and motivate you to keep going.
2. Visit a farm sanctuary. After meeting animals who have been saved from slaughter, you’ll be even more inspired and ready to be part of the incredible ground of people who make it their priority to save them. Once you become friends with the sweet and cuddly animals burgers, bacon, and chicken nuggets come from, you won’t want to eat them ever again. They’re basically funny-looking dogs that sometimes have feathers or curly tails. Check out a full list of sanctuaries right here.
3. Stockpile some recipes. Whether you’re at home with your parents or on your own, find a handful of easy recipes (just like these!) you can rotate over your first couple weeks of eating meat-free. One thing to keep in mind: Don’t just stick to rice and pasta (which is incredibly easy to do) — make sure you’re eating plenty of fruit and veggies, too. Oh, and try not to go hog wild (pun intended) on all the drool-worthy animal-free junk foods.
4. Tell your friends and family. They might not fully understand your decision, but after doing your research and learning some solid facts, you can teach them why you’re changing your lifestyle. This way things don’t get awkward when you sit down for dinner and get a plate of chicken set down in front of you. The more open you are, the more normal everything will feel — and the more people you’ll meet with the same mindset.
5. Start as slow as you want. Some people start with going meatless one day of the week then increase those days over time. Others start by ditching red meat then weaning themselves off everything else. But if you’d rather go cold turkey (sorry, we really like puns), go for it. With a pile of delicious recipes waiting for you, you’ll be even more satisfied and happy as you were before. And if you’re still unsure what to eat, we have a handful of ideas for you right here.
6. Give your body time to adjust. It could take a few days or maybe a few weeks, but you can’t expect your body to stop craving certain things you’ve been eating your whole life right away. And you also can’t expect your body to stay bloat-free after suddenly eating more beans than you’ve ever eaten in your life. (Don’t worry — that’ll pass, too.)
7. Remember if you mess up, it’s OK. Everyone makes mistakes, and they’re bound to happen. The most important thing to remember is tomorrow is a new day and you have a fresh slate to make a change. Be proud of yourself — you’re officially part of the change.