Embracing the "rabbit food" life

Advice on making the transition to vegetarianism, one falafel at a time

Sarina choosing between the omnivore and carnivore diet.
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This past Thanksgiving weekend marked my third year as a vegetarian. I started my transition when I came to Queen’s in 2014. I fully became one by early October of the same year. While the vegetarian life isn’t for everyone, people’s reluctance often comes from their belief that they won’t be able to successfully cut out meat while also maintaining a healthy, satisfying diet. However, my experience has proved otherwise.

My decision to become a vegetarian was a result of a number of reasons. Some were ethical, some were personal, but the bottom line was I felt the desire to make the change, despite my parents’ concerns about my protein intake and my brother’s horror over the idea of a life without chicken wings.

Changing your diet in such a significant way, whether you’re thinking of going vegetarian, vegan or simply cutting down on your meat intake, can be a difficult thing to do. If you don’t go about the process in a smart, realistic and manageable way, you run the risk of pursuing a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable or alternatively giving up before you even get started.

One of the best ways to make the transition is to keep it gradual. I started out by cutting down on the number of times I consumed meat each week, until eventually it went from twice a week, to once, to finally zero. If your ultimate goal is veganism, a vegetarian diet is a good stepping-stone, but should be achieved by way of a gradual process.

What I also find incredibly helpful is to have alternatives to the foods I found hardest to give up. I’ve always been a big fan of sandwiches and wraps, but my options for those kind of meals went down once cold cuts stopped being an option. For me, the options I find to be equally satisfying are falafel pucks or a bean and rice patty. If I’m in a hurry and ever need a quick fix, tofurkey, which is a soy protein-based cold cut, is also a great way to curb my cravings while maintaining a vegetarian diet.

It’s also very easy to fall into a rut of only eating the same few dishes time and time again.

But variety is your friend if you’re looking to change your diet, search for recipes that can smoothly be incorporated into your everyday life. There are a lot of very tasty and very accessible recipes out there. A simple Google search can easily introduce you to a lot of different kinds of dishes.

But one of the major factors in my transition that I found incredibly helpful and still do, is my supportive environment. I’m the only vegetarian among my family and my friends, but I have friends and housemates who always make sure we go to restaurants that offer a decent array of vegetarian dishes. If we’re making meals together, there’s always enough vegetarian options. Back home, my family is always conscious about accommodating my vegetarianism.

Like with any major lifestyle change, having people around me who genuinely cared about supporting my choice made all the difference in the world.

The dive into vegetarianism is a decision that’s easy for some and trickier for others. For me, it was an incredibly positive change: I felt cleaner, I learned to expand on the foods I was eating daily and I’m so used to it now that I don’t even glance at meat options on menus anymore.

It’s not a choice that’s necessarily right for everyone, but if you’re ready to make the change to a life of — as my one friend calls it — “rabbit food,” I’m hoping I can help make the process a little bit easier.

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