When it comes to vegetarian eating, many people are intimidated. It's a common misnomer that plant-based meals take more time to prepare, and are lacking in taste and nutrients. In fact, this couldn't be further from the truth. Use these five tips to add a little veggie love to your routine; it's so easy, chances are you won't even miss the meat!
SLIDESHOW: VEGETARIAN TIPS
1. Meatless Mondays.
Pick one day a week and make it meatless! Plan in advance by choosing vegetarian recipes and buying the necessary ingredients. Don't expect to overhaul your eating habits in an instant. One day at a time, once a week, is the perfect way to experiment with vegetarian meal options. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to establish a meat-free day as part of your schedule.
2. Know Your Options.
It's crucial to get enough nutrients, regardless of which type of diet you choose to follow, and there are plenty of ways to eat balanced, nutritious meals without eating meat. People are most often concerned with how to get enough protein in their diet, when considering going veggie. Tofu is a versatile way to pack in your protein, as it can be seasoned and served in a variety of dishes. Other veggie protein sources include beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds. Quinoa is one of my favourite sources of protein; my kitchen is full of quinoa pastas, cookies and breads. Concerned about getting the rest of your nutrients? Don't be! Properly balanced vegetarian meals contain all the nutrients you need.
3. Liquid Lunch.
For a fast and tasty vegetarian meal, choose a plant based protein powder and make a delicious smoothie. Toss a handful of fruits or veggies in the blender, add some almond milk or juice, a scoop of your favourite protein powder, and blend your way to balanced eating. Some brands even offer a "shake and go" type product where you literally just add water.
4. Be Creative.
When you're planning vegetarian meals, sometimes it helps to think outside the box. Who says a burger has to be made of beef? Make your own mushroom burgers by marinating a couple of good-sized portobello caps in olive oil and garlic, and then grilling them on the BBQ. Mushrooms are great as a main, as they can be quite substantial and absorb flavour well. At your next holiday dinner try roasting a dish of assorted mushrooms with fresh herbs and vegetarian gravy. Serve in place of traditional turkey or ham, and enjoy the rich juicy textures and flavours of your mushroom entrée with seasonal sides.
5. Practice makes perfect.
Learning to eat and cook vegetarian meals can be similar to learning a new language; it takes time to think veggie! Don't get discouraged if it takes a while to get comfortable with a new way of doing things. Slowly incorporate a few vegetarian dishes into your regular rotation and familiarize yourself with vegetarian ingredients. Take a cooking class, buy a recipe book, browse online. When you find something you like stick with it, and when you feel more confidant begin to make variations. But most of all have fun knowing that choosing a vegetarian meal option not only benefits your health but the health of the planet!
Making a small change to the way you eat will go a long way to making a longer-term switch. It will also help to be prepared in advance -- have the ingredients and the recipe you'd like to try. A regular meatless day is the first step to making the transition.
Most people worry about not getting enough protein and nutrition when becoming vegetarian. Know your best sources for protein: tofu, nuts, lentils, legumes and grains like quinoa. Make sure to incorporate at least one of these into each meal.
Vegetables are carbs that can fill you up, not to mention they're packed with vitamins and nutrients. If you're not that into veggies, getting your daily recommended dose in one smoothie is efficient -- and delicious! Blend fruits and greens, along with protein powder for a drink that's filling and packs a punch!
Events like barbecues can be tough for a vegetarian -- especially if you don't like those soy faux-meat burgers. Portabello mushroom caps, when marinated, hold a lot of flavour and are a healthy and filling alternative to meat. Throw one on the grill after covering in oil and garlic -- yum!
If you have the Internet, there's not excuse for staying in the dark when it comes to hundreds of flavourful vegetarian dishes. Look up in advance (maybe the evening before your meatless day) and you'll look forward to your meal all day! You can also download a handy app and save recipes that appeal to you. Save up a catalogue that you can easily browse!
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