If you enjoy a vegetarian recipe or two perhaps you should consider making your diet a meat-free one. This lifestyle choice – usually chosen on ethical, religious or health grounds – was once scorned for being impractical, difficult, or self-depriving. Now, however, there are so many delicious recipes for vegetarians it makes becoming one easier than ever before.
In the past, the only dining options on the menu for the beleaguered vegetarian were meat and two veg – without the meat – and vegetarian lasagne. If you were lucky you may have come across someone who had heard of tofu, though it would be unlikely you could find it in your local supermarket. These days, increasing demand for vegetables and meat substitutes means veggie options can be easily sourced.
Here are some top tips for becoming a vegetarian. This advice should help make your conversion less painful and much more enjoyable.
Other cultures have a more sanguine relationship with a meat-free diet than the western world. Vegetarian recipes from countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia were originally borne as a result of religious practices. Local spices and flavour combinations means that meat is rarely missed. Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese. Middle Eastern, Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian cuisine also have lots of veggie dishes.
If you’re an avid meat-eater and the thought of forgoing a bacon butty brings tears to your eyes, then start slowly and build it up. Like dieting or exercising, your body needs time to get used to the idea. Start with a Meat-Free Monday (Paul McCartney’s brilliant campaign - www.meatfreemondays.com) then build up your amount of meat-free days. This gives you time to wean yourself off meat, source alternatives, and learn how to cook vegetarian food that’s as appetizing.
Whereas meat substitutes were once balked at (and for good reason, they were nearly always awful), times have changed. Vegetarian sausages and pâtés such as those from the excellent Cauldron range, are tasty, healthy alternatives. Tofu and soy also have the added benefit of being lower in saturated fat than meat. Other meat substitutes include textured vegetable protein (TVP), wheat gluten (found in mock duck), and mycoprotein, more commonly known as Quorn. Use these foods as you would meat to make your usuals such as sausage and mash, bolognese, stir-fries, rice dishes and pizzas.
While it’s not normally the done thing to promote ready meals, if you’re converting to vegetarianism the impressive range of shop-bought supermarket meals will be able to provide inspiration on what you can recreate at home.
Source vegetarian recipes on the internet; buy some veg-heavy cookbooks; go to vegetarian restaurants in your area. Doing this will give help motivate and give you the confidence you need to lead a flavoursome meat-free life.