I got inspired by the National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May) to share some tips for people who are changing their lifestyle to become vegetarian. First of all welldone for taking the first step to changing your diet to vegetarian. The Vegetarian Society has plenty of advice and tips including recipes to help you along the way. I hope my tips and recipes from my blog will help you remain positive.
1. You have decided to become vegetarian so start thinking positively about it as it’s a great decision. I realise that it’s a complete lifestyle change so do take it one step at a time. Think about all the foods you can eat rather than what you can not eat. Start by planning a week’s menu and shop accordingly. Look out for the seasonal foods as they will be at top quality and half the price. Try out new fruits and vegetables. Try out new flavours using spices and herbs. If you like nuts, add those to your food. Once you have planned your weeks menu – Don’t wait until you are hungry to start cooking. Once you have the ingredients and menus planned – keep some dishes ready prepared or cooked so that you have something to look forward to lunch or dinner. See how you manage a week at a time. Here are my recipe recommendations for some easy weekly dinner ideas:
- Two bean and spinach curry: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2015/11/two-bean-curry-and-spinach-in-a-tomato-sauce/
- Stuffed Pasta shells: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2015/05/spinach-and-ricotta-cheese-stuffed-pasta-shells/
- Soup: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2010/11/mixed-vegetable-and-pasta-chunky-soup/
- Stuffed peppers: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2014/04/stuffed-peppers-with-quinea-bulgur-spinach-mozzarella-cheese-and-kidney-beans/
2. There are several meat substitutes available now which can be a bit expensive. However, it’s great to keep a few packets of the frozen veggie burgers, sausages, chicken style pieces and soy mince etc. in the freezer to add to your recipes to make a change. Chicken style pieces are great to cook with other vegetables to make a tasty curry. You can add soy mince to vegetables to make a healthy cottage pie. Here are links to some of my recipes using Quorn:
- Tacos: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2011/02/quorn-mince-tacos-with-quorn-mince-and-salad/
- Curry: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2014/01/creamy-quorn-chicken-style-pieces-curry/
- Cottage pie: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2010/05/vegetarian-cottage-pie/
- Vegetable & nut Wellington: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2013/12/vegetable-and-nut-wellington-for-a-vegetarian-christmas/
3. There are hundreds of vegetarian recipes online which you can use to get ideas for meals. To meet other vegetarians or to learn more vegetarian dishes, you can join a vegetarian cookery class. Learn to enjoy the new flavours and new styles of cooking. Indian, Thai or Mediterranean cookery classes will introduce you to new style of cooking with exotic spices and vegetables.
4. When you are invited to lunch or dinner – don’t be shy to mention that you are a vegetarian. If your host is stuck for ideas, give them suggestions or offer to take a couple of vegetarian dishes to share with all the guests. My friends love it when I take a tray of vegetarian biryani to share with them. I share recipes of vegetarian dishes I take to my friends:
- Biryani: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2012/06/biryani-hot-spicy-and-colourful/
- Lasagnia or cannelloni: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2015/08/lentil-and-spinach-lasagna/ OR my cannelloni dish: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2012/04/spinach-mixed-veg-and-ricotta-cheese-cannelloni-with-tomato-and-bechamel-sauce/
- Pasta bake: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2013/04/penne-pasta-bake-with-tomato-and-bechamel-sauce/
- Vegetable pasties and raita: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2014/02/vegetable-pasties/ with my easy raita dip: https://www.givemesomespice.com/2015/01/yogurt-and-mint-dip/
5. Don’t get into the habit of eating junk vegetarian food like chips. When I first came to UK in early 70s, I couldn’t find any vegetarian restaurants so I survived on eating chips every single day until I was able to rent a place and start cooking for myself. Chips, onion bhajis and samosas are very popular in UK. These foods are fine occasionally but having them regularly can be unhealthy . To avoid temptation always have a menu plan. I have shared some of my recipes above to give you ideas.
6. Changing a lifestyle isn’t easy and you will make mistakes or get tempted. Make the transition to becoming a vegetarian slowly- a week at a time – and you will succeed. Once you have succeeded, you can start reading the labels of the ready foods you buy and work out which ones are not vegetarian.
Do you have any tips for new vegetarians? Do share.