Pioneered by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977, October is a month to celebrate the compassionate choice made by millions to be meat-free. It's vegetarian awareness month, and we're proud.

More importantly though, it's a chance to encourage non-vegetarian folk to see what the hype is about. Take part by going vegetarian for a day, or committing to being meat-free for the entire month (for the chance to win cash prizes, I might add).

Too intimidating for you? Read just a few of these facts about the effects of animal agriculture from Leo DiCaprio's documentary, Cowspiracy, and you'll see that if you make just one change to one meal today, you can still have a positive impact. 

Whether you're vegetarian, omnivore, alien, or any other life form, these swaps are easy, affordable and, in the words of the great Willy Wonka, scrumdiddlyumptious (which has officially been added to the dictionary, btw). 

Instead of a burger, try a veggie burger

Sarah Schuette

When it comes to meat-free burgers, the sky is the limit. Many restaurants proudly serve at least one veg-friendly patty (the one pictured hails from my favorite STL vegan spot, Lulu's Local Eatery), while grocery stores can offer over 20 selections.

With chefs utilizing every combo of flavors and ingredients imaginable to satiate your wildest burger dreams, making the right choice might seem overwhelming, but don't stress—let this quick list of Spoon NYU's top five vegetarian burgers on the market narrow it down for you.

Instead of bacon, try coconut bacon

Sarah Schuette

If you’re a bacon lover, I dare you to try this one (it'd be perfect to sub in for some of these bacon-themed recipes). It’s smoky, sweet, crunchy, and hella simple to make. Typically using just four ingredients, this swap is possibly the easiest and most addicting on the list.

Instead of buffalo wings, try buffalo cauliflower bites

Sarah Schuette
They may not have their own challenge, but these bad boys will still win big at any tailgate with a whole new level of fabulous fiery flavor. You can bet vegan QB Aaron Rogers would approve. The best part? They’re a freakin’ vegetable, which means you can eat ten times as many with zero times the guilt. Score the dope recipe here.

Instead of a tuna salad sandwich, try Vegan Toona 

Sarah Schuette

Miley Cyrus recently posted a pic of this stuff on Insta, so if it’s good enough for her, you can bet you’ll get hooked too. And if you can’t find it, or you wanna go the homemade route, this tofu salad sammy will cure all the cravings.

Instead of crab cakes, try crabless cakes 

Sarah Schuette

I promise you won’t be crabby if you switch your classic crustacean cake with this vegetarian version. Gardein offers a baller alternative, along with a multitude of other stellar vegetarian substitutes. Sink your teeth into any of these mouthwatering pairings for crab cake perfection. 

Instead of jerky, try Primal Vegan Jerky

Sarah Schuette

Put the Slim Jim down for the day and nom on a strip of vegetarian jerky—there are surprisingly oodles of options. After conducting an ultra scientific taste test with a non-vegan buddy, I'd say that your best bet would be Primal Vegan Jerky. My personal favorites are the Thai Peanut and Hickory Smoked.

Instead of chicken, try Beyond Chicken

Sarah Schuette

I've lost count of how often I've eaten this stuff, but every time, I have to quadruple check the ingredients because it tastes so much like the real thing.

This vegetarian and vegan-friendly "chicken" is the perfect substitute to stick in your favorite salad, burrito wrap, or chicken sandwich (dig into this buffalo chicken sandwich recipe if you want to know what Heaven tastes like).

So get out there and enjoy your walk on the vegetarian side. And if you're really feelin' it, you can go all the way like Beyoncé and try going vegan (surprise, November is world vegan month). Read what happened when a Spoon member did just that, or hit up this beginner's guide to veganism.