There are hundreds of reasons to give up meat, including health benefits like lower cholesterol and a lower fat intake, compassion for all living creatures, reducing your carbon footprint, or simply looking for something different. Whatever your reasons may be, if you’re looking into giving up meat altogether, it can be an admittedly daunting process. It seems to be everywhere you turn. At every dinner party, at every snack time, on every menu, in every craving you may have, and still tucked away in the corners of the fridge or freezer.

Your reasons for giving up meat are your own, and here are a few easy and simple steps to help you give up meat and make the change you’re looking for. If you’ve already made the change, be sure to share some of your easy and sure-fire tips in the comments section below to help our fellow Green Monsters drop meat from their diets!

Take Stock of Your Intake

One of the easiest things to do is really keep track of how much meat you’re realistically eating. Most people don’t have meat in every meal, so you’ve probably already got some alternatives lined up (we’ll get to that later). Keep a journal of what meats you’re eating, along with quantity, and when. You’ll see your habits laid out in front of you and you’ll realize, if you’re like the majority of Americans, that you’re consuming way too much meat already. Seeing it all laid out in a neat little page in your planner will shed some light on the overindulgence most Americans take part in.

Find Some Alternatives

Chances are, you’re not having meat in every meal. So that means on days you’re not having a chicken caesar salad for lunch, you’ve got something else lined up. Maybe you make a mean stir fry? Maybe you’re obsessed with tomato soup? Take out that handy dandy notebook you jotted your meals down in before, and think up a few awesome alternatives to those meat-based meals. It could be as easy as taking the chicken out of the caesar salad and replacing it with fresh vegetables!

Phase It Out

Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone. Some people have that enviable determination that makes the rest of us feel pretty insecure. If you’re like me, it takes time. Don’t feel discouraged if you slip up. Just pick your head up, and realize why you slipped up so you’re prepared for next time. Maybe it was temptation; maybe your boss insisted you try the dish du jour at the big business lunch, or maybe you just forgot. It happens. At the beginning, just try cutting it down a bit, then as the weeks go by, a bit more and a bit more until you can confidently make it through the week without a bite! Baby steps is key.

Try Something New

Tofu isn’t everyone’s bag. I get it. It looks funny, it’s squishy, and has a pretty bland taste if not prepared correctly. Soy flakes look like really dry bran cereal. Quinoa (according to my cooking skills) never fully cooks and kind of looks like birdseed. Give up the preconceived notions because these alternatives are amazing! There are even plant-based meat replacements to try out! Hop over to our OGP recipe page or even get lost in the sea of YouTube cooking videos to perfect your cooking skills with these new choices. You’ll learn about different alternatives to your meat cravings and the best ways to prepare them.

Plan Your Meals

One of the most helpful pieces of information I can pass on is the valuable little tip of planning your meals. Sit down on Sunday morning, make a menu for the week, then hit the grocery store (check out this post about how to scan that grocery store quickly for clean food) and buy what’s on the list. You can even prepare a few of the meals that afternoon if you’ve got some free time to stock your freezer with pre-made meals. This is very important so you don’t give in to any cravings you may have creeping up on you to order that jumbo sized meat-lovers pizza.

Image source: Vegan Buffalo Tempeh Meatballs