When trying to shed those last few pounds of belly fat it can seem like you have tried every diet plan there is to find. You may find yourself looking at cutting out meat to help aid your diet and make healthy living feel more obtainable. Whether you’re going meatless for health reasons, moral reasons, or just to try something new it is important to research and learn how to cut out meat without hurting your body. There are tons of mistakes that you could make without even realizing it but here are 5 common mistakes people make when going meatless and how to avoid them.

1) Poor Protein ( Or too Much Protein)

One of the first things most people think about when going meatless is their protein intake. It’s also common for everyone around you to also become concerned about your protein. This may be because protein intake has become one of the biggest concerns for going meatless. How can you possibly have enough protein in your diet if you’re not eating meat? Simple. Eat a well-balanced diet and you won’t even have to give the protein a second thought. If you are worried about not getting enough protein in your day to day diet there are many options you can consider. Adding lentils, chia seeds, chickpeas, and peanut butter are all protein-packed foods that can keep worrying off your shoulders. If you do focus on adding more protein it’s important to know how much protein is good for your body and how much is too much. Too little or too much can both have negative effects on your body.

2) Assuming Meatless = Healthy

It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking anything meatless is healthy for you. Nearly any grocery store you walk into you can find meat alternatives, Whether it is chicken, pork, beef, or anything else, more often than not there is a frozen meat replacement for it. Those replacement foods oftentimes processed foods with ingredient lists longer than a CVS receipt. This also means that a lot of those ingredients are not working for your body but against. A common rule of thumb to remember is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in a package of food, should you be putting it into your body? There are a ton of books and online guides that can help you learn the best foods to eat while maintaining a meatless diet. That way you know what you should and should not be putting into your body.

3) Being Afraid to Branch Out

Meat is a simple dish with hundreds of complex ways to prepare it. It is something that most people, even those who vow they cannot cook to save their life, are able to figure out. When switching to a meatless diet it is easy to go to easy to make meatless meals such as kinds of pasta. Falling to the same meals every day can lead to burnout of those foods and ultimately making falling back into a meat diet a lot easier. If you are a picky eater it might be a much harder transition to switch to a meatless diet. You will have to find foods that can maintain the nutrients you need in your body and also keep things exciting so you don’t begin to dread your next meal. There is a wide variety of foods to look for and branch out to that don’t contain meat. If you look hard enough you will even begin to find things that you never knew even existed and also learn that some foods you never even thought to try have now become your favorites!

4) Avoiding the Kitchen

If cooking is not already part of your day to day living, it will have to become one. Even though many restaurants and fast food places are now incorporating meatless options into their menus it’s still important to know how to make your own meals at home. It is also good to get into the habit of cooking so on those days you don’t actually feel like cooking you can whip out some leftovers or know a quick 5 minutes meal. Choosing to cook at home can save you money and you are more in control of what you are putting into your body, By eating out you’re not always aware of what or where the food you are consuming is coming from and this can also lead you to eat meat products unknowingly. If you have been meatless for a while and eat meat without knowing it can sometimes cause stomach pain since your body is no longer used to digesting meat products anymore.

5) Not Planning Ahead

If you throw yourself into a meatless diet without any knowledge or planning of what is to come, it will be a lot harder to stick with it. In the beginning, the easiest way to make sure you are sticking to your meatless diet is trying to meal prep. Having food already cooked and ready to go for the week can save you extra time and guarantee that you won’t be rushing out the door without lunch and being stuck with only meat options for the day. You will also need to start planning ahead for when you go out to eat. Whether it’s a social gathering or business lunch you will most likely be faced with being at a restaurant and looking over the menu just to realize that the only meatless options are a side of mashed potatoes. A good habit to get into is looking up menus beforehand to make sure that the place you will be eating at will have something that you can eat. If it doesn’t, it never hurts to politely ask to change the eating location. If that is not able to happen it may be a smart idea to eat something small before lunch so that you are not left feeling hungry for the rest of the day.