Though many claim it is difficult for them to become vegetarians, it is possible, slowly but surely. Read how one person did it over fifteen years.
“NO WAY! I can’t do it! It’s too tough to be a vegetarian!” That’s the standard groan that fills the air when the topic springs up. When I point out that I was not born a vegetarian but have successfully been one for five years running, they look stunned. Frankly, when I first started out, it was tough for me too.
Some people still can’t believe that I have given up meat. Even my mother occasionally offers succulent curried prawns (probably her way of testing my willpower) followed by a surprised, “Oh! You’re still vegetarian?”
Thing is, both my parents could never go meat-less. My father may have been a religious Hindu, but he sort of scoffed at the going vegetarian and fasting bits.
So what prompted me to sail off into vegetable-laden waters?
In what seems like another lifetime, an astrologer suggested I should go vegetarian on Saturdays. Well, that first time was tougher than walking barefoot on burning charcoal.
Perhaps it was also because weekends were the time for food adventures with friends. Initially, as I sat observing the devilishly mouthwatering non-vegetarian food on the table, a nasty voice inside me threw a tantrum. It took awhile for that voice to stop.
Fast forward five years down the road. The Saturdays were no longer a big deal. No matter where I went to, something could always be whipped up. It merely required sheer willpower to say no to the meat. Back then, the vegetarian food choices were mainly a lot of carbs, but hey, beggars could not be choosers.
Fast forward another five years. From that one day in the week, I had moved on to two days, three days and finally graduated to four days. This time it was not based on anyone’s advice. Instead, it was something that I willingly wanted to do. External versus internal urgings. That made things easier.
Fast forward another five years. I had bid meat goodbye for good. My heart knew it was the right thing to do as I shaped a different life for myself. It helped tremendously that I had started this lifestyle change slowly, allowing me to improve on my willpower and letting me pick up many coping strategies along the way.
Unfortunately, there were “friends” who mocked my journey. I ignored them. It’s amazing how “well-meaning” people sometimes try to force their beliefs onto you. When you are on a new path, you have to learn to say no to peer pressure that hinders your own growth.
Also, as the years passed by, the concept of vegetarianism was catching on. More places in the Klang Valley started to cater for this need. Even some notoriously meat-laden restaurants now offer several specially cooked vegetarian choices.
The bottom line. It can be tough. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Here are some tips which I hope makes it easier for you to be a vegetarian.
Try one day a week, i.e. for 24 hours. Check out this website called Meatless Monday –
http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ for more ideas.
If one day is too much for you, check out the next step.
Slower Than Slow
Pick one meal in a week to go vegetarian. And stick to it.
Meaning, if you opt for Thursday lunches, do it even if there is a company lunch on, a festival or mean fellow-diners who tempt you with tantalizing dishes. Learning to say no is the foundation that will propel you forward.
Is one meal too much for you? Sigh! Check the next tip.
Totally cut out one type of meat from your diet for one entire day. You could work on beef/lamb/mutton. Or be a pescetarian (meaning only fish or sometimes seafood) for a day. Master this and read tip number 2 again.
Though it is not exactly the best option around, it might just help newbies with low to medium willpower. Just a tad in the beginning to satisfy stubborn old cravings. Eventually, you will automatically push it away in favor of more natural greens. Many a vegetarian has gone through this phase.
By the way, have you tasted vegetarian “tuna” sandwiches made solely from chick peas? Unbelievably close to the real thing – another reason you will eventually give up mock meat.
Let Creative Juices Flow
A good cook can make anything taste irresistible. A case in point is the lady who cooked the best vegetarian rendang ever to be had. So, play with spices and herbs. Experiment with recipes to turn them 100% vegetarian.
Work On Willpower
Practice saying no. Visualize the scenarios and keep a bank of tactful phrases to use. Remember that you can have a vegetarian version of the dishes. Also, look at it this way – if you can build up your willpower to be a vegetarian,
you can do the same for many other wonderful things in life!
Mistakes Are A-Okay
For newbies who accidentally eat meat or in a moment of weakness give in to their cravings, it is not the end of the world. Be kind to yourself and practice patience. Look for ways to avoid repeating mistakes.
Shout It Out Loud
Stand up and announce your plans to the world. Even if it’s just for a weekly meal. In a way, stating it encourages taking responsibility for the outcome. By making your intentions clear, the more considerate fellow-diners will cater to your needs.
Look for like-minded friends. These souls will provide the necessary tips and motivation. They may also point you to places with the best vegetarian nasi lemak and curry noodles in town. Talk to them when you are stuck. They have been there and would know exactly what you need.
Try it out and you will soon understand that it isn’t tough at all. May you achieve success as I have!
♥ Inspired by Sheela Prabhakaran
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