Becoming a Vegetarian
Amidst the growing concerns regarding the health and ethical issues surrounding a diet centered on meat and fish, many people are considering vegetarianism. And, while there are degrees of vegetarianism – from simply declining meat from land-based animals to the demands of a vegan diet – the change is not something many people can make cold turkey. However, with a little patience and a willingness to adjust, anyone can move into the vegetarian realm, with all the rights, privileges, and secret handshakes and passwords accorded its adherents.
Shed stereotypes about vegetarian meals
Making the transition to a vegetarian diet can be readily accomplished by taking the time to explore the world of eating options that are available. Vegetarian cooking has been embraced as haute cuisine and has reached a level of elegance and refinement found on the omnivore menu. No longer restricted to the crudités of the overworked raw vegetable plate, diners and cooks can find dishes drawn from the great culinary traditions of the world. Vegetarian menus are for both the adventurous and the conservative, providing a garden of earthly (and heavenly) delights for all.
Begin the vegetarian transformation gradually
While changing to a vegetarian diet can happen overnight, such an adjustment can be psychologically difficult for many, especially when other members of household are involved. The most effective process is to slowly eliminate animal-based foods from the menu one or two at a time, replacing them with vegetarian dishes until the point is reached where meat is no longer on the shopping list and no one thinks twice about it.
One of the best starting points is to designate one night a week as vegetarian only. To make the change even easier, if there are others in the household, invite family input into the menu planning process. By giving everybody a say, resistance is weakened and a more open-minded attitude can be cultivated. Once one night has become established, slowly increase the number of meatless meals along a path that meets the least resistance until vegetarian is a 24/7 routine.
In conjunction with the one-meal-at-a-time approach, gradually eliminate meat products one at a time from the menu. Which one to banish first does not matter- pick it and stick with it. As the palate adjusts, drop another and then another, and so on until meat and fish are distant memories.
Overcoming a carnivore bloc in the household
When changing to a vegetarian diet in the household, there may be a backlash, and family members may attempt a revolt. To successfully thwart a coup, it is a good idea to present the case for a vegetarian diet logically and in a calm and collected manner. In addition to pointing out the obvious health benefits of a plant-based diet, you can have family members conduct their own research on how animals used in food production are treated and prepared for distribution – an eye-opening exercise.
Another approach is through demonstrating the financial benefits of the vegetarian diet. However, instead of simply listing the prices of meats and fish, have family members create meals using a vegetarian budget. Take the lead and prepare a top-drawer vegetarian meal (a backdoor way to get the one-night-a-weeker in). Then give family members the amount of money used to create it and have them feed the family a balanced meal that incorporates meat, using only that sum. The savings will quickly become self-evident.
Changing to a plant-based diet has benefits on many levels, and it is something that is worth embracing. Making the needed dietary adjustments, if done gradually and with a plan, is not a difficult process and will have you, and your family, harvesting the bounty that this healthier approach to eating will bring.