These days more and more people are choosing to cut down on meat or go completely vegetarian. Could you do it? You might be surprised to find that it’s actually not that hard, and the advent of new food technologies is making it easier and easier.
Why go veggie?
There are lots of reasons to try a vegetarian diet. It prevents animals being killed for food – something quite unnecessary in this day and age – and reduces the number of animals suffering because of factory farming. It’s also good for the environment because modern livestock farming is a highly polluting industry. On top of this, it can have beneficial impacts on you personally, reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancer. Many people feel that their health improves almost immediately and they have a lot more energy after switching to a vegetarian diet.
Alternatives to meat
If you want to stick to dishes like those you’re familiar with – at least to begin with – there are plenty of meat substitutes that make switching easy. Tofu and tempeh are traditional substitutes and can be very tasty, but many modern products, such as Quorn steaks and veggie sausages, mimic meat more closely. You can make a great bolognese or lasagna with soya mince and a nut roast can be a delicious part of a family meal with roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. You’ll also find imitation meat slices and patés that you can use in sandwiches.
When people first started experimenting with vegetarianism in America they didn’t always know what they were doing and some of them became ill due to nutritional deficit. This is completely unnecessary in the modern world, but you will need to think about what you’re eating to ensure that you have a balanced diet. Most meat substitutes will give you the same basic nutrients as meat itself, plus a few extras, but you may need extra sources of iron. You can get these from dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, lentils, soybeans, most nuts and most cereals. Beans, nuts and oats are also great sources of protein. If you’re not going vegan, you can also get protein from eggs and cheese.
Dairy free options
What if you do want to go vegan – to cut out animal products altogether? You can substitute syrup for honey in many cases and you can drink soya milk, rice milk or almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Look up Hampton Creek on Wikipedia to find out about their great range of egg and dairy substitutes. They produce a great vegan mayo and they’re always inventing new products to expand their range. Their approach rests on using a huge database of plant proteins to help them work out the best substitutes for animal proteins and develop flavors every bit as good as those of the foods you’re giving up.
Making the change
Although the vegetarian movement is relatively young in the West, it has existed in the East for thousands of years, with whole culinary traditions built around it. There are all sorts of delicious possibilities to explore, so don’t focus on what you’re giving up – take this as an opportunity to discover wonderful new things. The Internet is full of great vegetarian recipes, and when you do miss your old favorites, you can always use substitutes to cook up a bit of comfort food. With an increasing number of great vegetarian eateries opening up too, you don’t need to miss out on things because of your choice – you can enjoy a new world of fantastic food.
Disclosure: This is a Collaborative Post