My Partner Robbie is vegetarian and has been for several years now, I am not though until I gave birth to my son (now 5 months old) I didn’t eat meat at home but I did at other peoples houses or sometimes when out to dinner. Now I tend to eat a small amount of meat most day, generally at lunch time to make sure I get enough protein and nutrients while breastfeed.
1. To be more adventurous in my eating. There are so many countries around the world that do amazing vege food or have other ways of getting protein without meat. I love Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Korean, Thai etc which means I get exposed to so many different flavours and ingredients that I never knew existed.
2. To be more adventurous in my cooking, trying to make my own versions of foods I have tried and liked. Google is my friend, and going to Asian supermarkets is lots of fun (especially when you play the game of choosing one thing to try that you have no idea what it is). One of my favourite meals to make when all my family comes over is make your own rice paper parcels, its lots of fun, very messy and can cater for all sorts of different dietary requirements as they choose what goes in.
3.To really enjoy meat when I have it and not be bothered when I don’t. I now get excited about roasts, bangers and mash, casseroles and stews. Its exciting because I don’t have it often plus it is so nice not having to defrost meat every morning so it is defrosted by the times its ready to cook.
4. How to stretch meat further to reduce costs. I don’t know about other places but both in New Zealand and in the UK meat is not cheap. Adding lentils or beans to mince, using quinoa for the carb part of a meal, changing the meat to vege ratio in a stir fry, using halloumi on bbq’ed kebabs. I also have realised I didn’t need to be eating nearly as much protein as I was, eating less meat and more veges is much much better for me.
5. I now eat a lot lot more veges, and really enjoy eating them too. In fact often they are my favourite part of the meal. It all comes down to how you cook them and what flavours you add. Caramelised onion adds yummy flavour to stir fried veges, along with a bit of balsamic vinegar or soy sauce and that’s just the easy options. Learning which veges taste good together and how to bring out the flavours makes a huge difference, along with taking your time and not rushing. Half cooked veges are horrid (especially onion).
Vegetarian cooking has a lot to offer those who still eat meat and can make your meaty dishes more exciting too. I recommend going out and finding a couple of good vegetarian cook books and trying one recipe a week even if its just a side dish.
What new dishes have you tried recently? What foods do you love?