Saturday, 31 January 2015

How to Survive Your First Year as a Vegetarian

Make friends with Avocado Toast
I will soon celebrate my veggiversary and after four years, I've learned a thing or two about how to hold your own as a vegetarian. Your first year can be tricky but whether you're new to it or just considering making a change, it's easier than you think.

1. Bring your A-Game
You got skills in the kitchen? Then don't let them go to waste just because you've got a taste for kale. Tracye McQuirter, author of By Any Greens Necessary, suggests looking in your recipe repertiore  for 3 meals that are already vegetarian, 3 meals that could easily become vegetarian, and 3 vegetarian meals you'd like to try. So, lose the meat but don't lose the flavor.

2. Enjoy the fruits of eating fruit
It's a big change and the first few months can be a challenge, so make sure to appreciate the fun things about being vegetarian. I've lost weight, I get to snack all day on lots and lots of low calorie high nutrient fruit and veg, I've met lots of new people, tried so many new recipes and sometimes, at restaurants, I have an excuse to have the chef whip up something special just for me.

3. Don't go it alone
If you've made this change for yourself, while your friends or family have not, then don't think your riding solo. Hit up blogs for recipes, try Happy Cow for restaurants, there are even clubs and meetups you can join. Vegetarians and vegans can be found in country, every city and every state, and they just love potlucks.

4. Fear not the fake meat.
In the first few years especially, meat substitutes can be a life saver. They allow you keep some of the recipes that you know and love while settling into your new found vegginess. Veggie burgers, sausages, and faux ground beef help make the transition easier. Not sure where to start? Look a little closer in the frozen food aisle at the supermarket or pop into a whole foods store for a larger selection.

5. Educate yourself
There are some amazing books available on all aspects of vegan and vegetarianism. Jonathan Saffon Foer takes up the philosophical argument for vegetarianism in Eating Animals. While, Tracye McQuirter's bestselling By Any Greens Necessary is an all in one guide for transitioning to a vegan diet. Bryant Terry's delicious Vegan Soul Kitchen is over flowing with recipes that will make you cry they're so good. And the ladies behind veggie classic, Skinny Bitch, will have you laughing out loud with they're no nonsense approach to food and nutrition.

6. Name drop like a boss
I won't lie: the haters will hate BUT just remember that you're in good company. Lots of beautiful, intelligent, successful and inspiring black people are vegetarian and vegan. Tia Mowry, Serena Williams, Erykah Badu, Prince, Russell Simmons, Mos Def, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Williams, Brandy, Samuel L Jackson and Angela Davis to name but a few. Stand proud, there are more people in your camp than you might think.

7. Get friendly with fresh produce.
Since I stopped eating meat I've tried kolrabi, jackfruit, calabash, spaghetti squash, persimmons, pomegranate seeds and even cactus! What we see in an average grocery store is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce (see what I did there). Think of it this way: you haven't given up meat, you've discovered fresh produce.  Explore your local supermarket, but don't forget to check the farmers markets, vegetable delivery schemes and even you neighbourhood swapmeet - really though - for new and interesting fruit and veg. There's a whole new world of flavours out there for you. So that the next time someone asks you "what" you eat, you can blow their mind!


  1. Very inspiring! I only survived one year as a veggie and this has definitely inspired me to try again and even go vegan! A veggie diet made me feel so much more healthy and I lost lots of weight into the bargain!

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