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  1. #1
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    Going vegetarian - tips?

    Hi again!

    Further to my thread about environmental friendliness, I know one of the best things we can do to help animals and the planet is to move towards a more (or wholly) plant-based diet. Now, I have flung myself in headfirst to the 'reducing plastic' part of my effort to live more ethically, but here comes the crunch - I want to become vegetarian. Not because I love vegetables (frankly there are quite a few I'm not keen on, and I don't like tofu either, so this is a huge challenge), but because I love animals. I was wondering if there are any vegetarians or vegans on the forum who would be kind enough to share any advice, tips, or recommendations for further reading on how to switch to a plant-based diet, or any amazing recipe books or websites?
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  2. #2
    Forum Member sturbridge's Avatar
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    My husband went vegetarian a few years ago, so I can tell you some of the things that worked for us/me as the family cook. I tried a lot of specifically veg recipes, but found that too time and focus draining after working all day. I'm the type of cook who goes by what's in my head, I don't typically use recipes.

    Many of our meals are vegetarian, some will just have different protein sources (burger for me, veggie burger for him), some are traditional meals that are tweaked. For example, we have tacos every week in the winter, only now the "meat" is cooked lentils with taco seasoning added. The taste and texture in this dish is quite similar to hamburger. I do a root vegetable pot pie instead of a chicken one and just add more variety of vegetables. We do curries, and differently spiced rice and beans, grilled veggies in the summer and lots of salads.
    Proud owner of: Pop Tote in cloud, Aeronaut 30 in steel/iberian, Travel Cubelet in Dawn, Travel Cubelet in Nebulous Grey , SE in steel parapack, SSB in black halcyon, Pilot in steel dyneema/steel, , Truck in Nebulous Gray, Small Zipped shop bag in black, Small Zipped shop bag in Dawn numerous pouches, 3D cubes, Q kits and straps, Cubelets and Ghost Whales!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturbridge View Post
    My husband went vegetarian a few years ago, so I can tell you some of the things that worked for us/me as the family cook. I tried a lot of specifically veg recipes, but found that too time and focus draining after working all day. I'm the type of cook who goes by what's in my head, I don't typically use recipes.

    Many of our meals are vegetarian, some will just have different protein sources (burger for me, veggie burger for him), some are traditional meals that are tweaked. For example, we have tacos every week in the winter, only now the "meat" is cooked lentils with taco seasoning added. The taste and texture in this dish is quite similar to hamburger. I do a root vegetable pot pie instead of a chicken one and just add more variety of vegetables. We do curries, and differently spiced rice and beans, grilled veggies in the summer and lots of salads.
    Thank you! I'm glad to hear you say you wing it, as I am the same way. I'm looking to expand my knowledge of the veggie food that's possible, but I am also not over enthusiastic about spending a lot of time planning and preparing. Substitutions and adaptations are definitely a good idea, especially when getting started, I think - baby steps!
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  4. #4
    Forum Member sturbridge's Avatar
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    I find that having components and precooked proteins in the freezer helps to be able to put meals together quickly, as well as some canned sauces. I typically "batch" cook when making something messy or time consuming. For example: we do weekly flatbreads or pizzas. So when I make crusts, I make 4 of them and partially bake them. When I'm ready for dinner, I can gather up leftover from the fridge, add cheese and/or sauce and bake for 10 minutes. When I do the batch of lentils for tacos, I make enough for 5 meals. While the lentils are thawing, I can chop up the fresh veggies, grate the cheese and heat up the tortillas.

    On the sauces side, I can just open a can of massaman curry and a can of coconut milk and heat that up while I chop up veggies to go in it (typically sweet potato, bell pepper, onion, and something green). While that takes 15 minutes or so to cook, its mostly unattended time. I have some other Trader Joe's sauces that are equally easy.

    I happen to be both really lazy and good at eliminating unnecessary steps/streamlining. So when I hear about 30 minute meals, I think, why would anyone want to wait that long to eat on a weeknight after a long day at work. LOL.
    Proud owner of: Pop Tote in cloud, Aeronaut 30 in steel/iberian, Travel Cubelet in Dawn, Travel Cubelet in Nebulous Grey , SE in steel parapack, SSB in black halcyon, Pilot in steel dyneema/steel, , Truck in Nebulous Gray, Small Zipped shop bag in black, Small Zipped shop bag in Dawn numerous pouches, 3D cubes, Q kits and straps, Cubelets and Ghost Whales!

  5. #5
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    LOL! I am totally lazy and impatient! But I am willing to make some compromises. Thank you for those excellent tips!
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  6. #6
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    The main thing is the mindset. Don't think of it as restrictive, but as an opportunity to try all kinds of new, amazing things. It's fun and you can get creative! If you don't cook much as it is, just go for it and try different things. Throwing a few tasty things in a skillet to put over rice or pasta with a sauce is an easy way to go at the beginning. Cooking is NOT difficult, we just tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. Follow plantbased accounts on Instagram, check out YouTube channels like HotForFood, and just overall surround yourself with the kind of things you wish to align with.

    The people that get burnt out quickly are the ones that are either eating boring food or buying tons of pre-packaged processed "health foods." Those get expensive and won't generally have the nutrition to satisfy your body's needs and cravings. Your tastes WILL change, for sure. You'll start to notice the nuances of different foods that you didn't think had much flavor, and you'll start enjoying things that you didn't before (I'll go with tofu, since that's an example you used.) Again it comes down to the way you prepare your food and the flavors you add. Meat eaters don't enjoy boiled/steamed steak with zero (plant-based) seasonings, so why would you do that with veggies?

    I could go on forever about this, so feel free to ask more specifics. But the main points are that it's really not difficult, surround yourself with information and good ideas, have an open mind, eat enough, and try things more than once or twice. I promise you that the hardest part is dealing with people who make it more of an issue than it should be. I'm stoked for you though; I know you can make the changes you want to and thrive.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slightlysaltybagman View Post

    The people that get burnt out quickly are the ones that are either eating boring food or buying tons of pre-packaged processed "health foods." Those get expensive and won't generally have the nutrition to satisfy your body's needs and cravings. Your tastes WILL change, for sure. You'll start to notice the nuances of different foods that you didn't think had much flavor, and you'll start enjoying things that you didn't before (I'll go with tofu, since that's an example you used.) Again it comes down to the way you prepare your food and the flavors you add. Meat eaters don't enjoy boiled/steamed steak with zero (plant-based) seasonings, so why would you do that with veggies?
    @slightlysaltybagman nailed it from a mindset POV...

    it's a lot like folks who give up sugar...after a while, you don't crave it and when you do have it, a small amount is a flavor explosion and way more than enough...

    you brain will come to crave whatever you routinely fuel it with

    tofu is indeed a good example, it's a pretty bland food and soft tofu's are not always texture appealing especially if you're trying to compare it to meat
    but tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you combine it with and is a good source of protein... you don't have Trader Joe's, but try to find a super super firm tofu (it just means they compressed it along time to remove more water - you could do it at home but it's time/work)... the super firm is a texture closer to Gouda cheese, more hearty
    I eat super firm tofu, avocador or guac, and salsa every day for breakfast.... when I travel I eat whatever is available, but I really like getting back to my 'real' breakfast when I return home - I'm completely habituated to it

    this website is all plant based recipes and has a toggle for metric measures... despite saying 'baker' in the name, they do a ton of main courses, sides, salads, etc.
    https://minimalistbaker.com/

    regardless of what you try, if you start reading recipes and cookbooks (try the library), you'll find the common tips & tricks for substitutions, etc.

    look at it as an adventure and chance to learn and experiment and you'll be fine
    have fun!
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too!

  8. #8
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    I am not actually vegetarian, but I don't like cooking meat so at home I usually eat as though I were vegetarian. There's a free PDF cookbook that I have found amazingly useful, called "How To Survive As A Low Budget Vegetarian." The first half of the book talks about the different ingredients, the best kinds of places to find them, and tips on cooking them (for example, how to cook beans so they don't make you as gassy!) The first section also has basic "recipe patterns" that you can use as a base for improvisation. The second half gives recipes.

    This is the website for the cookbook: https://www.lbveg.com/ The writer is my sister's friend's father; he wrote it for his daughter (my sister's friend) when she was in college.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonia View Post
    Hi again!

    I know one of the best things we can do to help animals and the planet is to move towards a more (or wholly) plant-based diet. Now, I have flung myself in headfirst to the 'reducing plastic' part of my effort to live more ethically, but here comes the crunch - I want to become vegetarian.

    BRAVO to you, Antonia! Will you be allowing eggs and fish or strictly nothing with a face?

  10. #10
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturbridge View Post
    For example, we have tacos every week in the winter, only now the "meat" is cooked lentils with taco seasoning added.
    I do this with black beans (mushing some of them up and leaving some more whole); gonna try it with lentils. Btw, my current favorite tacos are black beans with chilies, roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage, onion, lime juice and queso fresco. The combo of spicy black beans and sweet, caramelized sweet potatoes is amazing.

    I've been a vegetarian for 28+ years, so it's hard to even remember the transition, honestly. Going vegetarian - tips? I do, even after all this time, have fond memories of my mom cooking pork chops with homemade applesauce, pot roast in her big cast iron pot, or beef and broccoli stir-fry, but I don't really think I want to still eat those things. To me it's more a reminiscence of childhood.

    In terms of what I cook, like others I do sub some frozen proteins like "burgers" and "ground beef" in recipes from before I went vegetarian.

    Other sources of inspiration are really good vegetarian restaurant meals I try to mimic at home, and world cuisines that more easily lend themselves to vegetarian interpretations like Indian and Italian.

    I do love veggies, but I grew up eating them fresh from our huge garden. When someone says that they hate peas, my dad still has to remind me many people's first experience eating them was grey-green institutional mush from a can, not sugar snaps fresh from the plant and warm from the sun while I scooted my still-diapered butt down the row.

    All that to say: for the veggies you don't like, try to find a recipe that cooks them in a totally different way than you're used to. My brother hated brocolli until we roasted it with garlic and hot pepper flakes. I still don't like raw tomatoes, but put them on a pizza or in a sauce and I love them.

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  11. #11
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    Thank you so much for this - that's great advice and much appreciated. I really want to avoid getting bored or frustrated as much as possible while I'm rearranging my thinking and my grocery shopping! I may well be back with questions once I've got a bit deeper into it - I am only on Day 2!
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, G42! I have now followed the Minimalist Baker (and got the free recipe ebook of 'favourites' from the blog) and a handful of others on Instagram. I had a bad experience with tofu years ago and have been afraid to go back, but I will give it another try! It's so helpful to hear from yourself and others who have been through this and know the pitfalls. I really appreciate your advice.
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  13. #13
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    Thank you, aedifica, this is brilliant! The 'gassy factor' has been in the back of my mind.... And this looks great. I've downloaded the ebook. It's very kind of him to provide it for free.
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by anna2222 View Post
    BRAVO to you, Antonia! Will you be allowing eggs and fish or strictly nothing with a face?
    Thank you so much - I have been talking about it for years, but feel like now is the time. Honestly, I am only on Day 2, so I'm not sure how it all will go. I would love to get to the 'nothing with a face' point, but it may take a little time to figure it all out and see what works for me. I'm all about the info-gathering at the moment.
    So many bags. And I love them all.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonia View Post
    Thanks, G42! I have now followed the Minimalist Baker (and got the free recipe ebook of 'favourites' from the blog) and a handful of others on Instagram. I had a bad experience with tofu years ago and have been afraid to go back, but I will give it another try! It's so helpful to hear from yourself and others who have been through this and know the pitfalls. I really appreciate your advice.
    I should clarify that I'm flexitarian, lest you think I'm an expert at the transition or anything
    I love veg, grains, and beans - so it's easy for me to go days and weeks without meat and without noticing.

    Oh, and unless your allergic, nuts & seeds add a lot of variety, texture, nutrients, 'good' fat, and protein - but pay attention to the calories, they add up fast.
    Last edited by G42; 03-17-2019 at 01:25 PM.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too!

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