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Becoming a vegetarian isn't as difficult as you might think. Paulin shares her experience as a vegetarian after her first month.
About a month ago I decided to go meat free and change to a plant-based diet. This decision seemed to be the next logical step for me, as I couldn't combine a meat-based diet with my way of living any longer. So I decided to cut the meat, including seafood. I want to share my veggie experience with you so far, and show you that there is nothing to be afraid of when going vegetarian.
When I decided that I wanted to become a vegetarian, I did a lot of research. Watching documentaries on YouTube or Netflix, checking out vegetarian/ vegan food blogs and recipes, reading about other people's experiences and getting advice from friends who were already vegetarian or vegan helped a lot. It created a better understanding of what going veggie actually means.
From a health perspective, I feel fitter and not as tired as usual. I have more energy, need less sleep and feel healthier in general.
One thing that surprised me in a positive way was how my social environment reacted. I expected more people to make negative comments and I was worried that I might have to justify myself all the time about why I don't want to eat meat anymore, but most of the people actually were really tolerant and understanding. Colleagues at work started noticing that I didn't eat meat anymore and took my vegetarian diet into consideration when ordering food, which felt nice. Also the support of my friends who were already vegetarian or vegan made me feel comfortable.
Something I can recommend: get yourself a vegetarian cookbook and start experimenting with food. Try out new dishes you have never tried before - you will find out what you like and what you don't pretty quickly. Recently, I realized that I love Kale chips and I'm a bit sad that I missed out on this delicious snack for such a long time.
Organizing a vegan/vegetarian dinner with friends is also a fantastic way to learn more about plant-based food. Everyone brings a dish and a super delicious, vegetarian three or four course meal can easily be prepared.
So far, I'm more than happy with my decision on becoming a vegetarian. I feel better from a health perspective as well as from an ethical and environmental point of view. I was concerned about other people's opinions, but let's be honest: if you're convinced of something, other opinions don't really matter anyway. I don't miss meat, I don't crave it, I actually don't think about it at all. There are so many vegetarian options around; you just need to discover them. I also enjoy vegan products and preparing vegan food, but I'm not ready yet to become a full-time vegan - though perhaps in the future. Thinking about my diet in general and what I want to eat has given me a new perspective on food - a more conscious one. So there you go. I'm a happy vegetarian now.
Read this next: Why I put together a guide on adapting to a plant-based diet