Guest Post by Healthline.com's Valerie Johnston
"I am not a rabbit!"
This was said repeatedly by the man whose wife had decided to go meatless one day per week. Thus began her challenge to find vegetarian recipes that were cunningly good copies of the foods her husband preferred. As she set out to find these recipes she did not hold out much hope that she would succeed, but what she soon discovered was that they could go meatless every day of the week, and that it might take him a very long time to figure this out.
Understanding Modern Vegetarianism
The reason that the man in the story above believed he was about to enter the world of Peter Rabbit was because he had a relatively antiquated view of vegetarianism. He thought of it as a lifestyle choice in which large salads figured prominently on the stage. What he was unaware of was the many unique, delicious, and remarkably healthy meat alternatives were available, and that any of them could be substituted into his favourite meals.
Consider that there are tempeh, tofu, TVP, and seitan products that act like sausage, ground meat, chicken patties and fingers, burgers, hot dogs, and more. It is virtually impossible to enter a grocery store in this day and age without encountering a handful of vegetarian substitutes. These are found in the produce sections, the health food areas, and the frozen sections. With them you can concoct all of the classic dishes from your non-vegetarian years, including such things as meatballs, meatloaf, lasagna, casseroles, and so much more.
Now, just because you can use a one-to-one substitution, however, does not mean that it is always the wisest or healthiest choice.
The Reason to Go Vegetarian
After all, the reason you opt to go vegetarian may be because you want to enjoy the many health benefits it will bring. For instance:
- You may want to reduce your cholesterol and lower your caloric intake;
- You may hope to up the fibre content of your diet in order to prevent digestive cancers and heart disease;
- You could be switching to a vegetarian diet because you want to lose weight; or
- You might switch to vegetarianism in order to consume a whole food and organic diet.
Relying too heavily on meat substitutes and classic meat recipes could override your goals. This means that you want to first use the Internet and your local library to begin scouting around for good vegetarian recipes that are similar to your preferred foods. The easiest options to start with are the "classics" such as meatloaf of macaroni and cheese. You will find that true vegetarian versions rely on lots of vegetables, whole grains, and low fat cheeses. They are still packed with flavour, and you will want to experiment in order to get the very best results.
In addition to removing the meat from your diet, you may also want to find ways of reducing fat, improving the fats you use, and eliminating as much of the sugar and sodium from the foods you make too. Now, that can make it a bit tough to get the same flavours as your original recipes, but there are some great alternatives and substitutes that will make it hard for your family to tell the difference.
Consider that a bit of lemon on vegetables and salads often fools the tongue into thinking it has tasted salt. Olive oil can be used for everything from cooking and dressings to baking and comes with much less fat. Applesauce, honey, and maple syrup are good sugar substitutes, and can often be found as organic versions.
You will discover a world of fun and experimentation as you explore ways of making tastier vegetarian classics.
About the author
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.