Vegetarian Cooking for Meat Eaters

There are various health and environmental reasons for eating more vegetarian meals.  Many food writers, chefs, doctors and environmentalists hail the virtues of vegetarianism.  From Meatless Mondays to hardcore locovore veganism, the information is out there.  I’m not here to explain all of the whys.

A couple of weeks ago The Fella got an email from his brother and sister-in-law asking for suggestions on how to incorporate more vegetarian choices into their diet.  You see, The Fella is vegetarian and has been for over 13 years.  Well, technically, he is a pescatarian, meaning he eats fish from time to time, but he doesn’t eat anything that breathes air.  I, on the other hand, am an omnivore.  I eat meat about once or twice per week.  I do all of the cooking at home and the vast majority of the meals I prepare are vegetarian.  So, naturally, The Fella passed the email along for me to answer.

I had a lot of fun writing my response and I thought it would be interesting to post it all here:

I really enjoy cooking and preparing vegetarian foods.  I’m a meat-eater who has fully embraced traditionally vegan and vegetarian ingredients.  The best way for me to share a lot of info would be to give you a few bullet points that make up the core of our vegetarian repertoire and include links to really good sources for vegetarian recipes and info. 

  • Develop your own Vegetarian Chili method (not a recipe b/c I just don’t measure when I make chili, it’s different every time!)  This is the best place to start.  Make a giant vat of veg chili once a month all winter long.  It’s cheap and healthy and delicious and you can fix it up so many different ways. 
  • Make friends with your Crock Pot!  Check out some veggie crock pot cook books from the library. 
  • BEANS!  Canned or dry beans are really great in pasta dishes or rice dishes, soups, salads… Lentils are awesome b/c they cook super fast and cheap and you don’t have to soak them before cooking them. 
  • Interesting grains: millet, amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice… Because you need grains with beans to make a complete protein.
  • The Fella really loves the processed vegetarian fake meats.  They are not the most healthy or cheap but they are fun and some products are not bad for you.  One brand we have gotten into lately is called Quorn, it is made of myco-protein which comes from fungus.  I have found that fake sausages and fake chicken is pretty good but I don’t care for fake beef.  
  • You need a lot of herbs and spices on hand to make food (without animal fat) more flavorful.  Don’t forget the Siracha!
  • I use vegetarian bullion instead of chicken or beef stock in recipes
  • Find a good natural foods store that sells items in bulk.  This is great for the grains, beans and also for stuff like TVP and Nutritional Yeast (see my old blog for some recipes using these), also you can get products made by the Fantastic foods company.  They have great mixes for falafel (so easy to make!) and the BEST vegan taco filling and vegan sloppy joes.  The Fella loves this stuff!
  • Surf the web:

http://www.101cookbooks.com/  – my FAVORITE recipe blog! I have two of this woman’s cookbooks.  Very inspiring!
http://www.theppk.com/ – The Post Punk Kitchen
http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/
http://markbittman.com/ – I love this man!  Not everything he does is veggie but he wrote a good veg cookbook among other good cookbooks.  Bittman writes for the NYT food section and does short cooking videos on the NYT web site.  Very quick, simple and, bonus he’s charming, witty and funny. 

There are so many good veg cooking blogs.  You should do some searching and find ones that appeal to your tastes and interests.

 

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