How do you go Vegetarian?

I was recently asked if I would share my experience of when I went vegetarian, how I did it, challenges, pit falls, and so on.

There are so many reason to go vegetarian. But it is rarely as simple as just not eating meat, especially for those of us who really love meat.

In 2011-2012 our family of 4 went fully vegetarian. Not vegan because we still ate eggs and cheese. Below I have included links to recipes I blogged during that time. I will include a couple of others a little later that never made the blog.

The challenge of going vegetarian was really, what do you eat? And while there are lots of ways to go about it, many people start looking for meat alternatives – fake meat or they go heavy on the legumes. These both have some serious drawbacks. The meat alternatives are a mixed bag in terms of taste and texture. I like the meatless crumbles (freezer section) and some of the meatless sausages (I had good luck with the meatless chorizo sausage when I could find it), but you really have to try them to know if they are good. I am not a fan of tofu or seitan. I could eat all flavors of legumes everyday, however, my husband complains because ….well, … gas. And there are many newer alternatives now like the impossible burgers (aka Beyond Meat). I have not cooked with the Beyond Meat products, but I ordered an Impossible Burger and it was amazing!

Here are some thoughts:

  1. You don’t have to go vegetarian all at once. Think about having 1 meatless meal each week. Once you are used to that, add more meatless days.
  2. There are lots of versions of vegetarian – vegan with no animal products of any kind, ovo-lacto (eggs and dairy), pescatarian (include fish). Don’t feel boxed in by the labels. Do what works for you. My dad calls it Flexitarian.
  3. Experiment – find recipes that sound good. I love to use Pinterest to find new recipes. And don’t be afraid to modify recipes that sound “almost” good.
  4. Remember that food should look good and smell good, in addition to tasting good. Some of what you will miss is what they call mouth feel. Make sure that the vegetarian meals have a variety of textures and are not just mush.
  5. Don’t tell the family that a meal is vegetarian. Fix, serve it, call it dinner.
  6. While we are not currently vegetarian, we do eat a lot of meatless meals. Our current leaning is the Mediterranean diet which focuses on lots of meatless meals, with some chicken and fish. It is more flexible than strict vegetarian.

Recipes I didn’t bog previously:

Kale Lasagna Diavolo

Serving Size: 8

Summary: 

Warm up a winter evening with a spicy lasagna that gets hearty texture from chopped kale. Goat cheese mashed into traditional ricotta gives it a flavorful tang.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 bunch kale, stems removed
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans tomato sauce, 15 ounce cans
  • 1 can tomato paste, 6 ounce can
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 9 noodles lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with oil.

2. Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Thoroughly wring out kale, then chop. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and set aside.

3. Mash together ricotta and chèvre in bowl, and set aside.

4. Heat 1 tsp. oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and cook 15 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomato purée and red pepper flakes; simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened.

5. Spread 1/4 cup sauce in prepared baking pan. Place 2 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Top with half of cheese mixture, half of kale, and 1/3 cup sauce. Top with two more noodles, remaining cheese, and remaining kale. Top with remaining lasagna noodles, and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake 40 minutes, or until cheese has melted and lasagna is bubbly. 

Soy Chorizo Black Bean Stew

Recipe By: Vegan Slowcooker

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 1 packages soy chorizo, sliced
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes longer.

2. Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving. 

3. Top with cilantro if desired.

Blogged recipes: