Useful Tips on Going Meatless
By baby_2u baby2u. Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:00:00 PM
Start gradually. Adapt familiar meals such as lasagna and shepherd's pie by using textured vegetable protein. Although fully vegetarian, it has the look, taste and texture of crumbles or meat chunks, according to which variety you buy. It is available from health food stores. If you don't buy the flavored variety, be aware that you need to add seasoning of some kind or it will remain bland and uninteresting.
Buy vegetarian cheese. It's not an unfamiliar product as cheese is probably already on your shopping list. But whereas some cheeses are made with an ingredient from the stomachs of slaughtered calves, vegetarian cheese uses vegetable-derived rennet. Every supermarket now stocks at least one kind of vegetarian cheese, and many of the more unusual varieties such as Stilton and Brie are also now available in vegetarian versions.
Buy free-range eggs. Again, eggs are another staple ingredient in many people's diets so it won't take much effort to pick up the free-range variety instead of the Battery Produced.
Read the labels. Although you may get the odd shock when you realize that a food product that seems vegetarian in fact contains something such as gelatin or animal fat, there are plenty of others you'd be surprised and pleased to find out are suitable for you.
Adapt familiar dishes. If you're the only vegetarian in your family and it's too difficult or expensive to cook totally separate meals, adapt a meat dish. A casserole, for instance, can be made with beans and vegetables in one pan. Then the meat can be cooked separately and given just to the meat eaters. Or use soy crumbles and see if anyone notices the difference.
Don't be put off by unfamiliar foods. Tofu, for instance, is a boon to vegetarians, especially new ones. This by-product of soy beans is incredibly versatile and easy to use. And if you use the plain variety, don't think that you've done something wrong when it appears tasteless in the finished recipe - it's meant to absorb the flavor of other ingredients. Or you can buy the smoked or marinated versions.
Explore health food stores. They'll have vegetarian products you haven't seen before, and the assistants will be able to answer your questions about products suitable for your new lifestyle.