Giving the whole meatless thing a go? NBD. Try this simple, no-stress
Whether or not you’re ready to commit to going vegetarian for good, eating less meat is one of the best things you can do for your health, the environment, and, yes, the animals (but animal welfare is hardly the only reason to go plant-based).
If you’re curious to see what a vegetarian diet can do for you, give it a try! Here’s a fun, no-stress 14-day plan to help make going meatless NBD.
Week 1: Get Started
Go shopping! Buy meat-free staples you’re already comfortable with to keep it simple for your first week (pick and choose your faves from this vegetarian shopping list if you need ideas!)
Make some of your easy vegetarian-friendly faves today – grilled cheese, veggie pizza, scrambled eggs, meat-free pasta… You would be amazed how many vegetarian-friendly foods you eat already!
Lose the meat in one of your favorite recipes – and swap in a vegetarian-friendly source of protein. Dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and quinoa will probably be the least intimidating protein sources to start with, but here’s a more complete list of vegetarian protein sources if you’re feeling adventurous.
Revisit another favorite recipe. Swap out the meat and add a plant-based protein – and some of your fave veggies. Burrito bowls are one of the easiest meals to turn veggie – here’s one simple way to make a vegetarian burrito bowl, but feel free to get creative!
Try some meat substitutes (start with the Beyond Burger if you’re missing the real thing!) My personal fave meat substitute is the Morningstar Spicy Black Bean Burger – so good served classically on a bun with toppings or in a breakfast scramble!)
Get inspired by some vegetarian food bloggers and try out a new veggie-friendly recipe.
You made it through the first week – yay! Hopefully you’re learning how many vegetarian options there are out there and getting comfier eating a plant-based diet. How about a homemade pizza night tonight? Try your fave meat-free toppings or check out this list for some creative ways to top your vegetarian pizza!
Week 2: Get Comfy
If you’re craving meat, try some “chicken” nuggets, fishless filet, or whatever other fake meat floats your boat. Here’s a ranking (from a meat-eater!) of some of the best and worst meat substitutes out there if you need some more guidance.
Find a recipe where the produce is the star and whip it up! (This definitely doesn’t have to be a salad, but salads are a pretty accessible way to learn how to pair different veggies and plant-based proteins. Here are a few protein-packed salads you could try!)
Build your own vegetarian bistro boxes à la Starbucks. These bad boys are easy AF to put together, super portable, and high in protein. Definitely one of my go-to vegetarian meal prep ideas.
Revamp one of your simple childhood faves. Add some veggies and spices to mac ‘n cheese for a (slightly) more grown-up cheesy meal. Swap your classic pb&j for almond butter and apple slices on whole wheat bread sprinkled with cinnamon. Keep it simple.
Fall in love with Buddha bowls! (Think a burrito bowl but more versatile.) A Buddha bowl is essentially a base of greens topped with your favorite veggies, grains, dressing, and whatever else you want. Here’s an A+ beginner’s guide to making Buddha bowls that look and taste amazing.
Check out a vegetarian restaurant near you! If you don’t happen to live near a vegetarian restaurant, no worries – visit a Yelp-approved restaurant in your area and try something new. Thai, Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, and Mexican restaurants tend to have the best (e.g. not boring) options for vegetarians. Check out these general ideas to help you order a vegetarian-friendly dish when you’re eating out, or ask your server for suggestions!
Share the veggie love and cook a vegetarian meal for someone! You can choose your favorite dish from the past two weeks or go a little crazy and make something you’ve never made before. Bonus points if you get your friend, family, or SO involved in the cooking, too!
Yay – You Did It! So, What’s Next?
Thinking about going vegetarian for good?
Awesome! Feel free to repeat the challenge if you find the structure helpful while you’re getting started. There are literally an infinite number of meal and snack options for you out there. Have fun!
Here are a few more (non-judgy) resources on becoming a vegetarian, if you want more ideas:
- How to Become a Vegetarian – Scott H. Young
- The Vegetarian Resource Group
- The Most Laid-Back Guide to Going Vegetarian You’ll Ever Read – Matt Frazier
- How To Become a Vegetarian Easily – Courtney Carver, Lifehack
It can seem like a lot of information in the beginning, but eating vegetarian will get much easier and simpler once you get the hang of it. Plus, if you get stressed, you can always come back to your favorite foods from the challenge.
BTW: How Often Should Vegetarians Eat Fake Meat?
I included a lot of meat substitutes in this challenge for a reason – they tend to be really helpful when you’re first adjusting to eating vegetarian. However, meat substitutes can be pretty expensive and, like most processed foods, tend to contain a lot of sodium.
If you decide to stick with vegetarianism, you’ll probably find yourself phasing out meat substitutes in favor of other protein sources and only using meat substitutes occasionally (like every single BBQ you’re ever invited to).
For now? Don’t stress. Eat whatever foods help you make the transition to vegetarianism as simple and smooth as possible. Finally, don’t get upset with yourself if you slip up and eat meat. You’re trying something new and unfamiliar – it’s 100% okay to struggle, forgive yourself, and start over again. (You’re doing amazing!)
Planning on going back to your regular diet?
That’s okay, too! Hopefully you learned some amazing new vegetarian recipes to incorporate into your regular diet for Meatless Monday’s or any other time you feel like whipping up a killer Buddha bowl. Doing little bits to reduce your meat consumption, like going meatless for a meal, a day, or even a month adds up.
Harm-reduction, guys. It’s a thing.
Check out these magical recipes inspired by Disney! Oh yeah, and they’re vegan. Brb gonna go whip up some Dole Whip floats now.
See ya real soon!