Vegetarian… Vegan… The words sound and look familiar – they must have something in common? If you’re a novice in the whole area, here’s the lowdown on what they are and what it means to your diet!
In one sentence, the big difference is that a Vegetarian diet usually avoids meat from animals, while a Vegan diet excludes all animal products completely, such as dairy, eggs, and honey.
So you’re considering becoming Vegetarian or Vegan. What does this mean for your diet?
If you’re accustomed to eating meat and other animal products, the easier first step is looking at the Vegetarian diet. This means you’ll cut out sources of animal meat such as chicken, steak, meat sausages, bacon, meat burgers, turkey, ham… you get the picture. However, you can still eat eggs, cheese, milk, honey etc.
If you choose to go the Vegan option, you’ll cut out all animal products which includes considering how they’re included in prepared dishes – eg, eggs in pasta, milk in coffee, cheese on pizza etc. It’s a commitment on a greater scale.
“I don’t know if I can do this…”
The good news is the Vegan lifestyle is becoming a lot more mainstream, with a growing number of products available in supermarkets and restaurants and cafes catering to the diet. There are so many recipes and substitutes available, all it takes is a little extra effort when planning your meals!
If you’re just starting out and want a few simple steps to get you started, I suggest the following:
- Identify one day per week you’ll be cutting something out (eg Meatless Monday or “no dairy Wednesday”) – this way you can start to practice thinking in a new way about what you eat.
- Do a little research and make a list of some blogs, websites, or books you can reference if you need some inspiration or motivation. These are a few of my favourites:
- Thug Kitchen
- How Sweet Eats (vegetarian tag)
- Blissful Basil
- After thinking about why you’re taking these steps, prepare a sentence or two about your actions to explain to curious friends and family! They’ll likely ask questions and it’s great to have a quick response prepared – they may even choose to join you!
- Ask close friends and family to support you – it’s not easy to make a change to your diet so having their support makes a difference, when you’re out together or if you’re visiting for dinner.
Making changes to your diet isn’t easy – so it’s important to remember your Why. Whether it’s a love and respect for animals, concern for the environment and the impact of animal industries, or simply a desire to eat more plant-based meals, focus on the reason you’re making the changes and you’ll stay strong!