October can be the scariest month of the year—not because of Halloween, but because it’s Vegetarian Awareness Month, and, for some of us, eating a vegetarian diet seems too fearsome a task to even attempt. But—just like when you visit the haunted house in your neighbor’s garage—the fear of going veg is all in your head. With just a few easy techniques, becoming a vegetarian is easy as meat-free pie.
Why try going vegetarian? Eating a plant-based diet isn’t just good for your health. It’s good for the environment, too. That’s because growing fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes takes less energy than it takes to raise livestock. That’s one reason why Sodexo’s cafés all offer vegetarian choices.
So we challenge you to go vegetarian for the rest of October. Here are a few tips to get you started and make the transition a bit less scary.
Don’t Quit Meat Cold Turkey
Whether you’re a trypto-fan or not, you don’t have to go all or nothing when it comes to going veg. Even if the goal is going totally meatless, you can take baby steps toward baby carrots. You could start by going pescatarian for one week (meat free, but you can still eat fish). Another option is to try Meatless Mondays, an idea from Choose Veg, which suggests giving up meat one day a week. Or you could take a page New York Times food writer Mark Bittman’s book and eat only vegan food before 6 p.m., but have meat and dairy in your evening meal .
There might not be a class on how to go vegetarian (not yet anyway), but the next best thing is a vegetarian cooking class. Going vegetarian may be daunting, in part because your repertoire of recipes is heavy on meat. If you take a vegetarian cooking class, you’ll set yourself up for success by mastering a few tasty, plant-based meals. Courtney Carver, the author of Be More With Less, suggests cooking classes as a way to meet like-minded veggie lovers and swap tips and recipes.
Make going vegetarian an excuse to experiment with new foods. Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete says going vegetarian is an opportunity to expand your culinary horizons. Fill your plate with so many new foods that you won’t even miss the old ones. So instead of just serving rice, try quinoa or wheat berries. Instead of a morning bowl of cereal, try a fruity, frozen acai bowl. If you’re used to throwing chicken into your salad, try adding avocado, spiced chickpeas or baked tofu.
Expanding your options will make going vegetarian both more attainable and more enjoyable.
That’s it! Think about accepting our challenge and try out vegetarianism, for a healthier planet and a healthier you. Think you can do it? Let us know in the comments.