You want to become a vegetarian? I think that's just great because by not eating meat, you're doing a lot for yourself as well as for our environment. At the same time, it opens a door for you to great, and most importantly, diverse, plant-based meals. As with all other habit changes in our everyday life, it is also enormously important for a good start into a long-term vegetarian life that you always keep the reasons for your personal decision in mind.
In this article, I would like to explain the advantages and disadvantages of being a vegetarian and then give you the best tips for starting a vegetarian diet. Let's go!
Tip: If you want to take it a step further, check out the parallel article on the Start into the vegan life in. There one renounces completely animal components in the own meals.
Become a vegetarian - advantages & disadvantages
What actually speaks for and against becoming a vegetarian? That is a question whose answer should become part of our flesh and blood. After all, these are the personal reasons for giving up eating meat. Typical reasons are mainly the following:
- Protect environment
- Save animals from death
- Prevent factory farming or animal suffering
- Improve own health
- Preserve religious and cultural customs
- Simple aversion to eating meat
But now I would like to give you some possible disadvantages and the most valuable advantages that speak for or against becoming a vegetarian.
Disadvantages of vegetarian diet
What exactly speaks against becoming a vegetarian? Of course, we should always take this into account in a factual discussion. Especially because if you are a vegetarian yourself, you quickly tend to sweep possible disadvantages under the carpet. Here are some things that tend to speak against becoming a vegetarian:
- Vitamin B12 should be taken by dietary supplement (but this is also true for most meat eaters)
- Eating meat would be acceptable from an ecological point of view if it came from a natural animal husbandry would originate
As you can see, there are basically no salient reasons for continuing to eat meat in the future, except perhaps one's own habit.
Advantages of vegetarian diet
And what could be the effect of becoming a vegetarian? Here I would like to answer you the question of WHY by means of some bullet points. The things speak for eating vegetarian:
- Animals feel fear and painVegetarian diet eliminates the need for confinement and slaughter. No animal has to suffer for you. In addition, separating mother cows from their calves immediately after birth is highly questionable from an ethical standpoint. More in the article "Do animals have feelings?".
- Stop destruction of forests: Due to the high demand for meat, it comes to the Deforestation. The land is cleared for cattle grazing and fodder cultivation (soybean meal).
- Stop violence against animals: Pigs, for example, have their curly tails cut off and chicks have their skulls shortened. In addition, it comes to the Shredding male chicks. As a vegetarian you counteract these cruel acts.
- Reduce water and energy consumption: The production of one kilogram of beef requires more than 15,000 liters of water.₁ The energy required for housing and slaughtering is also enormous. As a vegetarian, you also make this unnecessary.
- Stop eating medications: Animals get just in the Factory farming Drugs like antibiotics so they grow quickly and bring in a lot of meat. As a vegetarian, you avoid eating the drugs indirectly.
- No more unnecessary death of animals: Every year, 356 million kilograms of meat are thrown away in Germany. 45 million chickens, 4 million pigs and 200,000 cattle therefore die in vain.₂ If you become a vegetarian, you also counteract these glaring facts.
Can you think of any other benefits of a vegetarian diet? Then feel free to leave a comment below this post.
Becoming a vegetarian - 10 valuable tips for getting started
Becoming a vegetarian - all well and good. But what does that look like in practical terms? How do you break the habit? And how do you make sure that you don't bite into a juicy steak again after a few days? With the following 10 tips for switching to a vegetarian diet, you'll be on the safe side.
1. define clear rules
A true vegetarian is not meat, finished. Something like "I eat little meat" is too vague. What does "little meat" mean? Two steaks a week or one cutlet less than usual? For the conversion to vegetarianism you simply need clear rules. Here are two examples:
1st example: I now eat only one schnitzel a week and then no meat at all from September.
2nd example: I no longer eat meat. My exception is fish that comes from organic fishing.
This is on the one hand a smoother transition and on the other hand a clear formulation. There's no escaping old habits.
2. prefer restaurants with vegetarian offer
That's easy to say, but above all it's not so easy in rural regions. But even if most dishes there still have a meat content, you can also ask there for alternatives or just eat more of the side dishes.
In big cities like Berlin, there are many restaurants that offer exclusively vegan or vegetarian dishes. And basically every restaurant there has at least one or two vegetarian dishes, if it is not called "Schnitzeltreff" or "Zur Haxe" 😉 .
Tip: Especially for Italian or Asian cuisine you can count on there being plenty of meat-free dishes. Both cuisines are very plant-based by nature, and even dishes with meat can be quickly converted to vegetarian meals there.
3. cook more yourself
I think that's the key to getting off to an easy start in vegetarian life. By simply wielding the wooden spoon yourself more often, you can decide for yourself which ingredients are in your meals.
Just cook more than usualThat way, even during your lunch break the next day, you won't be in the predicament of having to quickly buy a kebab on the spot. And if you do, there's always the falafel kebab. 😉
4. make your meat renunciation known to family & friends
This is not only important if you want to become a vegetarian, but in general if you want to consolidate a change in your life. By telling especially important people about your plan, the probability of success rises to unimagined heights. After all, you want to come across as someone who follows through on things he sets out to do.
So you can answer the question "What's new?" simply by saying that you are now a vegetarian. That makes for a kind of liability and keeps you from becoming weak. In the best case, you can also convince other people to give up meat more or completely.
5. find alternative substitutes for meat
Discover the variety of vegetarian foods. There are for example Sausages from pea protein or Soy Sliced Meat. Both not only look like meat, but also taste quite similar. This is then a good help for many converts when starting out. Mushrooms are also a flavorful alternative for meat - there are even vegan and vegetarian burgers with mushroom patty. Mega tasty!
As time goes on, you'll find more and more products that will help you eat only vegetarian.
6. find and eat protein, meat-free foods.
Myths circulate such as "If you give up meat, you have a protein deficiency" -. animal proteins also come from plants that animals once ate.. Nevertheless, vegetarians should of course make sure that they consume sufficient protein. Dairy products and eggs but also soy products, legumes, nuts, spinach and mushrooms contain a lot of proteins. Read the article about vegan protein sources inspire, there you have vegan and vegetarian equal in the interaction.
7. collect meatless recipes
When you tell someone that you haven't eaten meat for a while, they often ask back questions like, "Only salad now, then, or what?" - Questions that show that many people can't imagine how varied plant-based meals are. To begin with, you can simply start with an ordinary Start recipe book and cook many delicious vegetarian things. And then you just get inspired in blogs magazines and Doku's, so that you have with each day again new recipes available. You'll see how great your vegetarian meal choices become over time. Here's a little inspiration:
- Sweet potato and amaranth burger with multigrain bun
- Vegetable ratatouille from the oven with mozzarella cheese
- Kitchari recipe with red lentils
- Buckwheat porridge breakfast recipe
Notice: The selection is still very sparse, but I will gradually give you more recipes in this Veggie Recipes Blog deliver.
8. network with others and learn from each other
It is incredibly important to share with others about vegetarian life and to keep learning from the beginning. Come for example in our Facebook group for sustainable living. There you can also share vegetarian dishes, ask questions about the vegetarian lifestyle and simply learn to live more sustainably.
But there are also many other platforms where you can exchange ideas - such as cooking forums.
9. read and use accompanying books about vegetarianism
In the overview above you can already find some book recommendations for the start into the vegetarian everyday life. Let yourself be accompanied by one of the books, that will give you additional security and above all inspiration give. Of course, I can say that from my own experience: I always lacked creativity, because I still knew too few delicious vegetarian meals. Recipe books have helped very well.
10. watch documentaries and movies about vegetarianism
Just let yourself be inspired a bit. I can tell you from my own experience that the images from documentaries about our diet anchor in your personal attitude become a vegetarian. This helps to give you a picture of meat production and also to stay vegetarian in the long run. In my opinion, the following films are absolutely recommended for anyone who wants to become a vegetarian or should become one:
- What The Health
- Food, Inc.
- We Feed The World
- A little pig named Babe (yes, that fits well too!)
Do you have any other documentary or film tips on the subject of vegetarianism? Then feel free to write them in the comments. I will then add to the list.
Becoming a vegetarian - My experience
My most important experience right at the beginning: It's always good to make the switch to a vegetarian diet together with friends or your partner. That makes changing this habit much easier. Without my girlfriend, it wouldn't have worked so well for me. Now we cook a lot more ourselves and there are suddenly delicious meals and combinations on the plate that you couldn't imagine how great they actually taste without meat. From potato and broccoli casserole to stuffed mushrooms.
Immediately at the beginning of the transition, I first realized how much meat I had been eating all my life. How many animals do you think there were? Better not to think about it. But I also quickly realized how easy it is to do without meat. After all, there are now thousands of alternatives. The veal escalope is replaced by a vegetable escalope, beer ham by an eggplant spread, and so on. If you become a vegetarian yourself, you will also discover how uncomplicated it is to do without meat.
Just always be aware of your reasons for not eating meat. Because these are more than understandable and should both help you become a vegetarian and ensure that you stay a vegetarian in the long run.
So is it worth becoming a vegetarian?
But to 100%! This is not only my own experience, but also the experience of now around 8 million vegetarians in Germany alone.₃ By becoming a vegetarian and inspiring others to do the same, you are making an important statement against the Climate change and others Environmental problems of our time, against animal suffering and above all for the fact that every human being can survive and above all live healthier without eating meat.
Animals, like humans, feel joy and pain, happiness and unhappiness.Charles Darwin, British natural scientist and author
Just consider the change from meat eater to vegetarian as a steady process and don't think of it as a knee-jerk reaction. This way you'll stay motivated in the long run and learn more every day.
Do you have any questions, more tips, or your own experiences starting out as a vegetarian that you'd like to share? Then feel free to write a comment below this post.
PPS: If you want to get a clearer picture of the environmental problem of global warming and your influence on it, feel free to check out the post on the Climate change facts and figures over.
₁ Federal Environment Agency (2017): Hidden water (as of 22.03.2017). https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/verstecktes-wasser. [09.08.2019].
₂ Westdeutscher Rundfunk Cologne: Tons of food in the trash? Vomit! https://www1.wdr.de/verbraucher/ernaehrung/rewind-lebensmittelverschwendung-100.html. [07.10.2019].
₃ ProVeg e.V.. (2019): Vegan-Trend: Facts and figures on the veggie market (as at: 11.01.2019). https://proveg.com/de/pflanzlicher-lebensstil/vegan-trend-zahlen-und-fakten-zum-veggie-markt. [0710.2019].