If you’re like most people, you’ve made a number of New Year’s resolutions. Surveys routinely show that eating better tops most people’s lists. Now as you well know, following through on those resolutions can be very challenging. But fortunately Vegetarians of Washington is here to help! Here are a few of our field-tested and time-honored tips for making sustainable changes towards a healthy vegetarian diet.
You’ve probably been eating meat and other animal products most of your life, so don’t try to change your diet all at once. Try making one night a week veggie night and then expand from there. Remember that even small changes can make a big difference when it comes to improving your health, protecting the environment and all the animals who share the planet with us.
At Vegetarians of Washington we love great tasting food and will accept nothing less. Food is there to be enjoyed. So whenever you give up eating any dish, make sure you substitute an even better-tasting one in its place. You don’t want to feel deprived. This is where a good cookbook is absolutely vital. Allow yourself to experience the pleasure of vegetarian food and enjoy the adventure.
Use the power of love! Don’t fall in love with any food or dish that doesn’t love you back. Only love to eat foods that can love you back, by nourishing your body, your community, the world and all the other creatures that share it with you.
Look at following the vegetarian way of eating as an expression of your freedom. Some people try to say that vegetarians are not free to eat anything they want. Actually, you are free, and in your freedom you’re making a wise and delicious choice, rather than just follow habit or the customary Standard American Diet (SAD).
Don’t be afraid! Some people worry that if they are even one milligram short of magnesium their arms will fall off. Just relax. Not only is a vegetarian diet safe (and delicious), but it is a lot safer than the diet you left behind. There’s a reason vegetarians, on average, live longer and healthier lives.
Keep it simple. Don’t count milligrams and ounces, and don’t count servings. Just remember to enjoy several helpings from each main food group—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—every day, and wash them down with plenty of water. Take a good one-a-day type multivitamin/mineral supplement (make sure it includes vitamins D and B12) every day for nutritional insurance, and enjoy life.
Be diplomatic when interacting with others. Remember that food is a very personal space. Food is what grandma gave you when you came home on a cold winter’s afternoon. Food is what you had at your Sweet 16th birthday party, and food is what you have at anniversary and holiday celebrations. Many people are struggling with food issues. If they allow you to enter into their personal space, please remember to do so gently. Most people are looking for help, not a hard time, when it comes to eating better. Sometimes new vegetarians get very enthusiastic, but few people want to be hit over the head with the tofu. Most people respond to a “proceed at your own pace and do the best you can” approach.
For more tips on changing your diet, see our latest book, Say No to Meat, for information on how to make changes to your diet, handle dating, families and parties and also on shopping, eating out, cooking at home and all the rest. It even includes some simple recipes to get you started. With a little effort, and support from us, this is one resolution you will be able to carry through, and as you notice the many benefits, you’ll have no trouble sticking with your new diet for many years to come.