How To Add Variety To Your Vegetarian Meals

By Owen Jones

People who are not vegetarians almost certainly ask themselves how a vegetarian cook can make vegetarian meals stimulating with just vegetables at his disposal. This same consideration might be stopping or at least deterring some meat-eaters from giving up meat and trying vegetarianism. The fact is, that vegetarian meals are not just 'meat and two veg' without the meat, although forty years ago there were numerous vegetarians who began like that.

However, a routine of 'meat and two veg' without the meat is not sustainable. A person who eats meals such as these will soon become sick, particularly if there is no fish, dairy or eggs in the diets either. Many vegetarians choose to eat a small amount to dairy, fish or eggs to help provide much needed protein, which can be difficult to replace in a met-free diet.

Vegetarians have to plan their meals far more than meat-eaters in order to eat everything that a body needs to grow, repair itself and defend itself from disease. It will of course take some time for the newcomer to vegetarianism to learn new recipes and how to cook them so in the beginning, many vegetarians do indeed cook meals which are of the 'meat and two veg' without the meat type.

This is all OK if you know what to exchange for the meat. There are a number of things in the stores, but one of the most useful is soya in all its various kinds. Tempeh is a soya bean meat substitute and so is tofu. Both these can be used to replace meat for a supply of protein.

The good thing about these substances is that they can be cooked to taste of anything you like - they take on flavours quite easily. They can also be made to resemble the texture of meat.

Seitan (wheat gluten) is a similarly flexible and helpful product, but you have to be certain that you are not allergic to gluten first, because this allergy appears to be spreading. Soya bean products and seitan can be easily bought at health food shops and Oriental shops.

As you become more capable at cooking vegetarian meals, you will almost certainly rely less heavily on these things. Beans and nuts are also useful substitutes, but you will probably have to learn how to use them first. Take a look at chickpeas, lentils yet kidney beans.

Soya by-products like soya milk and soya yoghurt and even soya margarine can be used to take the place of normal dairy products. You can also make a sort of healthy milk from rice water or / and blended nuts. Apart from making milk and casseroles from nuts, some nuts are excellent in salads. Have a go with walnuts, cashews or almonds and try seeds too like sesame and poppy. Sunflower seeds and others are tasty for snacks.

Bread and sandwiches are tasty vegetarian fast foods. Experiment with different kinds of flour. Get yourself a bread-making machine and bake your own bread. Preparation time is minutes but you can set the timer to cook the bread for when you like. Seven in the morning beats any alarm clock.

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