Whether it`s for health, animal rights, politics or any other reason, you, like many others may be considering a vegetarian lifestyle. Here is some ways to get started, or at least start you thinking...
1. READ! Research. Explore. Get the facts. You"ll learn about the protein myth (vegetarians do NOT lack) and the calcium myth (more is NOT neccesarily healthier) and more. Read lots. Knowledge is power.
2. THINK! Think about the animals. Think about your body. Think about the Earth. And if you"re not tired from all that thinking, consider how your food choices impact the people around you and the world. No need to make any decisions. Just allow yourself time to ponder.
3. TALK! Talk to vegetarians. Talk to non-vegetarians. Ask questions. Share your thoughts. Join a club. Start a club. Hang out with vegetarians. Guaranteed you"ll get an earful. Then do more THINKING.
4. SET GOALS! Make a game out of it. Setting goals can be serious or fun. Depends on your attitude.
5. COOK! Learning to cook in a whole new way can be exciting. Take a class. Get books from the store or library. Try out new recipes on your friend. Do potlucks. Allow yourself to get creative, to play. Have some fun with it. Turns out meatless meals are not only possible, but limitless.
6. EAT! Make mealtime special. Sit down. Maybe use the good china and cloth napkins. Play nice music (Don"t distract yourself with books or TV) before you dig in, take a moment to be thankful. As you eat, chew carefully, really savor each bite. Slow down. Notice the tastes, sensations. See how it feels to really experience food this way.
7. LISTEN! Try to be aware of your body"s needs. Sleep when you"re tired. Eat when you are hungry. Pay attention to your body - which foods feels good, which don"t? Notice how certain foods drain your energy, mood, emotions, concentration and sleep pattern. Respect your body. Learn the connection between what you put in your body and what you get out of it.
8. EXPERIMENT! Try other lifestyle changes. Explore macrobiotics or raw food diets. Maybe take up a new sport, or try yoga or jazz dance. Maybe start a journal or learn a new language. Whatever interests you, try it "as a vegetarian" and see if it feels any different.
9. PREPARE! You may get resistance from friends and family. Be ready for it. (Family dinners can be especially stressful - breaking "food traditions" is hard on everyone) Be strong, but not self-righteous. Trust yourself. Prepare, too, for your own self-doubts. Am I getting enough vitamins? Am I doing the right thing? This is normal. Relax. Talk to your friends. Build a support group. Refer back to your books. And if you do "fall off the wagon", see how you feel, and get back on! Give yourself room to be human, and time to adjust.
10. CELEBRATE! Mark the day you stopped eating meat in your calendar. Celebrate that day! Rejoice in your decision! Have a party. Buy yourself a gift. Treat yourself to a massage. But realize that vegetarianism is an on-going process, and the "journey" is MORE than half the fun!
So, whether you see it as a lifestyle, a "religion" or simply a nutritional choice, vegetarianism is an exciting and beautiful concept. Good luck...and enjoy!