A lot of people grew up eating meat at every meal. I know that living in the Midwest, we might have ham and eggs for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and maybe steak salad for dinner. Meat was expected at every meal. But in college, I decided I was going to commit to going vegetarian.

I’ve had tons of friends say they’re interested in going vegetarian, but they just can’t imagine not eating meat. So, here is how I stopped eating meat.

1. Figure out why you want to stop eating meat

Some people stop eating meat because it helps the environment, some do it for their health, and others do it because they don't like the idea of eating animals. Whatever your reason is, make sure you're passionate about it. It'll be easier to stick to your goals if you really care about why you're making this change.

2. Cut meat out slowly

It’s hard to cut something out of your diet cold turkey (ha ha). I started by cutting meat out of one meal a day. Instead of having ham in my eggs, I started using peppers and onion. Then maybe I'd have some greek yogurt for protein. Next, try to eat meat every other day. Eventually, you'll find such great substitutes for meat that you won't even notice that you stopped eating it. 

3. Find meat substitutes

At the beginning, you're going to miss meat, and you’re probably not going to get enough protein. It happens. But there are great fake meat products out there. Gardein and Morning Star products are my favorites. Heads up: they often contain a lot of soy, but they're delicious.

4. Make sure you’re paying attention to nutrition

Meat isn’t just about protein. You get lots of nutrients like B-12 and iron from meat, so you have to make sure you’re still getting those in your vegetarian diet. You can get B-12 from eggs, fortified foods, and dairy.

5. Be realistic 

Don't abandon your vegetarian diet all together just because you wanted a burger for lunch one day. You might not be planning on cutting meat out completely, but just know that a vegetarian diet can be as flexible or as strict as you want it to be. 

It's been two years since I had any meat, and I don't miss it one bit.