With so many warnings about health, the environment and animal rights, more people than ever are abandoning meat in favour of plants. A host of rising restaurant and cookery stars have made it their mission to show the world the pros of plant-based living. Going veggie now seems easier than ever before. However, as those with first hand experience will tell you, it’s a whole lot more complicated than it may seem. Here are a few of the things that any would-be veggie should take into account before they take the plunge.
1. Filling the hole can take some time
In the beginning, it can feel like cutting out meat can’t be that big of a deal. Most veggies aren’t even that keen on it to begin with, so full unadulterated veggieness may initially feel like a natural next step. However, it can quickly become clear that there’s more to meat than meets the eye. Apart from anything else, no amount of veggies can fill you up like a chicken breast or a hamburger, and filling the hole with carbs is no way to live. Getting used to protein alternatives like beans and lentils is therefore one of the toughest hurdles for any newbie.
2. Tofu can suck
Despite the series of unnervingly smiley adverts featuring happy herbivores wolfing down fake sausages that now seem to infect TVs everywhere, the fact is that fake meat still leaves a lot to be desired. While tofu, seitan and other alternatives have come a long way in the last few years and can certainly help to make the transition easier, they aren’t for everybody. Don’t become a vegetarian and expect mince made from mushrooms to do the trick. It won’t.
3. Eating out becomes a minefield
Especially if you live outside a major city, restaurant options for veggies can be extremely limited. So many classically trained cooks have mastered meat while neglecting to afford fruit and veg the same respect. The result is a number of restaurants offering either non-existent or boring options, which almost always include one of pasta, quinoa and salad. It’s therefore essential that new veggies prepare themselves for hours’ spent scouring the internet in search of tasty food rather than rocking up and hoping for the best.
4. All soup is waiting to trick you
It can be easy to think that, as a brand new member of the veggie family, you will always have a friend in soup. Unfortunately, even everyone’s favourite hot bowl of comfort is now off-limits. In most restaurants, even vegetable soups are made with chicken stocks, thanks to its superior depth of flavour. All veggies need to be extra careful that they aren’t ending up with a cup of chicken tears whenever they aren’t making their own meals.
5. Other people will make it extra difficult
Whether by accident or on purpose, new veggies find that their new lifestyle often prompts public outcry, even from their closest friends. It might be because they have to prepare an extra option at dinner, or need to make additional effort to find a veggie friendly restaurant, but meat eaters can be really cruel if they think they’re being inconvenienced. People are horrid like that. Fortunately, as long as you’re prepared to be made a temporary pariah, it will all be alright in the end.
Going veggie is clearly not just a matter of turning off the meat tap and walking away scot free. However, it’s also true that the world is becoming more veggie-friendly than ever before. In a couple of years, there might be no difference between vegetarianism and every other diet. Until then, it might be a little more difficult than most of us are prepared for.