Growing up in an African household, meat was a staple in most, if not all, of my meals. Any given week would be a variety of dishes ranging from Kenyan, Greek and Italian, to something British (whatever that is). The common denominator of each cuisine was always meat. It was only when I started cooking for myself that I really began to explore the idea of even trying to be veggie.
Now, I’m no dietitian or health expert, but incorporating more plant-based foods into your meals can only ever be a good thing.
Whether you’re looking to make a lifestyle change or simply switching your diet up, here are six ways to gently ease yourself into vegetarianism.
- Remember, it’s a black people thing too.
“But black people don’t go vegetarian!” First thing’s first – no. Let’s leave the idea behind that having a plant-based diet is a ‘white people thing’ somewhere in the ether of absurd racial stereotypes. Don’t let anyone conflate your race with your dietary direction – it just doesn’t make any sense. Black Brits can enjoy the same benefits of meat-free meals as their white counterparts!
- Define your goal.
Ask yourself, what is it that you want to gain from this lifestyle change? Is it better nutrition, improved skin, more energy or simply to save money? If necessary, do some research into how going vegetarian can affect your health. Whatever your goal may be, make it attainable for yourself and your lifestyle – there’s no right or wrong answer.
- ‘Where do I start?’
Social media is your friend – find Instagram and YouTube accounts that align with the meatless diet you are trying to achieve. Check out Tish Wonders’ channel for quick and easy recipesOut and about? Visit Zeret Kitchen or Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (which has vegetarian options) to get some gourmet inspo. Considering vegetarian catering? Let The Tipsy Black Sheep handle it! Baby steps.
- You don’t have to go all in, all at once.
In fact, it might not work if you go ‘cold turkey’ – it definitely didn’t for me! It’s vital that you give yourself time to comfortably adjust. Begin by dedicating one day a week to veggie alternatives. It doesn’t even have to be a Monday either. You might also find that meal prep is a lot quicker when it’s only vegetables involved, which means more time to be productive elsewhere.
- Try not to buy meat at your next food shop.
When you start cooking for yourself, you realise how dear meat actually is. Personally, I’m shocked that there aren’t more headlines denigrating millennials for buying meat instead of saving for a deposit for a house… Sure, meat substitutes look slightly on the expensive side, but if you’re leaving animal products out of your weekly shop, it can end up balancing out. To save even more money, you could also replace those substitutes with vegetables that have a meat-like texture, such as mushrooms, aubergines, beans, legumes or cauliflower.
- Go at your own pace – it’s fine if you ‘slip up’.
I’m not going to lie – I still eat meat occasionally when I’m out for dinner, but nowhere near as much as the amount I consumed when growing up. I used to feel ashamed eating meat while claiming to be a vegetarian, but this was not a healthy mindset to have. Go easy on yourself and don’t feel guilty if you eat do end up eating meat while on this journey – it’s always on your own terms!