Reluctant Vegetarian: How to Stop Eating Meat?
How do I become vegetarian when it’s so hard to get over meat cravings caused by simply loving the taste of meat?
Dear Judith, I discovered your website quite a while ago, and have recently stumbled across it again.
I love the recipes, and this advice blog is great. I’ve become vegetarian at least twice before, and always fell back into the meat eating pattern. I now have cut meat eating out of my lifestyle a lot, but occasionally do have meat cravings and eat chicken, and rarely, beef. I almost never eat pork unless there are really no other options.
I love the vegetarian options out there, and now that I’m done with university, I have more time to cook healthy and interesting meals. There is a big part of me that wants to become vegetarian – I have vegetarian and vegan friends who have very convincing arguments and points to make.
I have watched movies like Food, Inc. and read Fast Food Nation (the latter was my motivation to become vegetarian the second time), and I have seen videos of slaughterhouses and heard horror stories from my father who was a medic at a slaughterhouse for a while and saw what the workers – and the animals – experienced.
There are SO many good reasons to become vegetarian, and I think I want to give it another stab.
Like I said, cutting out beef, pork, and chicken has not been too hard. My biggest meat cravings challenge now is seafood. I love seafood. I know that the oceans are overfished. I know there are, again, so many reasons to not eat it. But I LOVE the taste. I don’t know what to do to overcome this. I tried being a “pescetarian” in the past, but eventually just eating fish and no other meat got the better of me, and I decided to just go back to meat eating. And there are other things I love – now that summers have rolled around again, I’m excited about hamburgers and chicken grilled at barbecues.
I guess my question is – how do you get over liking the taste of meat and having meat cravings just because you like the taste?
I tried to post this on another discussion board for vegetarians once and was literally harassed and told I was a horrible person who should stop being ruled by their taste buds, basically, and that I should get some conviction. I feel like your website is a safe and respectful place to voice my question. I really look forward to hearing from you. Thank you! – V. R.
Savvy Vegetarian Advice:
Thank you, V.R.!
Going vegetarian can take a little or a long time, depending on many factors, like age, health, body-type, socio-economics – it’s a very individual & personal thing. In Western society, the cultural pressures NOT to be vegetarian are strong, and it’s not surprising that many people have trouble swimming against the stream, even if their desire to become vegetarian is strong. It’s excellent that you’re moving in the “right” direction!
Your commitment level will catch up with your intellectual understanding over time. Vegetarian or vegan diets are very life-supporting, and the more that you eat a high quality vegetarian diet, the more that your body will come to prefer it. One day you might wake up and have an “ah-ha!” experience, or just gradually realize that you can never again eat anything with a face.
But since you’re not there yet, instead of focusing on your vegetarian shortcomings, and having guilt attacks, accept that you aren’t quite ready to go all the way vegetarian. I think your best approach would be to eat the most TASTY, healthy, organic, vegetable-rich, whole grain kind-to-animals diet that you can manage, and not worry about the times when you can’t.
One reason why new veggies crave meat is that the veg food they’re getting isn’t satisfying. If your vegetarian food is tasty and nutritious, then you’ll be less likely to crave meat. Be sure that when you do eat veg, you’re getting the nutrients you need to replace those that you get from meat. Take a multivitamin, plus separate B12 and Omega 3 supplements. It could be helpful to read the veggie nutrition bible, “Becoming Vegetarian”, by Melina & Davis. And try tofu burgers on the grill, they hold up quite well, and are VERY tasty & nutritious :-)
All the best, Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian