Overcoming meat cravings as vegetarian
Question: I read that you are a certified chef who cooked and ate meat for many years. How did you overcome your meat cravings when you went vegetarian?
Did you just think of the animals all the time? Or did you allow yourself some exceptions after you started the vegetarian diet?
Many people tell me that they love animals but can't imagine to not eat meat, as they like the flavor so much. There sure must be a way to overcome this?Answer from Belsandia:
At first it was not easy and I admit I still had fish and sushi from time to time (I did not consider it meat back then). But to be honest I never really craved meat after seeing all that animal cruelty that goes into every steak and sausage.
You are right - I often see the animal in my mind whose body is now lying cooked on the plate. It is a journey to go from meat-eater to vegan, and for most people it does not happen overnight.
Here are a few tips for overcoming the meat cravings once you go vegetarian:
1. Find out if your cravings are psychological (smells, stress, boredom, habit) or physiological (drop in blood sugar or other symptoms).
The psychological cravings usually pass fast and can be overcome by distracting yourself, snacking on a tasty granola bar instead, some nuts, etc.
The physiological cravings are harder to ignore. You can address a protein craving with great fake meats (see more below), beans, grains, etc. A craving for fat can be countered with a handful of nuts, seeds, or your favorite avocado dip. Cheese is an option if you still eat dairy, but this is an extreme high-fat food that leads
to other food addictions, so I would not recommend it.Most meat cravings are learned and a matter of habit.
If you make your vegetarian diet experience diverse and exciting, the meat habit usually passes within a few weeks.
Set yourself goals that you can look forward to, like a new vegetarian recipe every week or a new restaurant tasting. Be adventurous, join meet-ups and potlucks where other like-minded people can share their ways to overcome meat cravings.2. The mock meats are great transitional foods for vegetarians.
Nowadays you can get plant-protein like gluten, seitan, tempeh, etc. in all kinds of meat shapes and tastes. Try to make a veggie burger with a gardein patty or some soy hot dogs. This may be a good start to wean you off the meat as you develop new vegetarian tastes. I recommend to go a bit heavier on the seasoning and spices - as the veggie meat does not have the fat and needs a bit more spunk in spice.One of my favorite sources for mock meat is gardein from chef Tal Ronnen. He makes fake meat dishes from "garden protein" that taste so real, it's almost scary.3. Tofu is not a fake meat, but if you use extra firm tofu you can grill it, batter it, etc.
With good seasoning, such a tofu steak is not bland at all, and can be a satisfying meat replacement.4. If you love the smell of barbeque, try this:
corn, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, aubergines, yums, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, garlic - they all do excellent on the grill. Make sure to create or buy a really good dipping sauce for your grilled veggies, and I am sure you will not miss the meat!