I am happy to report that I am in a much better state with my stomach, which was my main reason for not eating meat in the first place. Who knew I just had to spend a small fortune on vitamins and supplements to feel better?
But even with my healthier digestive system, I'd like to continue with my vegetarian ways for a little longer since eating meat still doesn't feel right for me. Seeing that I know quite a few friends of mine are also curious about eating more vegetarian meals, I decided I would put together a list of helpful hints to help others eat less meat.
- Start Small - Cutting out meat in one go can be overwhelming, particularly when we've been engrained to eat meat our whole lives. Start by having one meat free day a week or by quitting one meat type at a time. Then work towards one meat free week a month.
- Plan Your Meals - If you're not meal planning, now's the time to start. Organise your weekly menu to include more vegetarian based meals. A little preparation means vegetarian cooking won't seem so daunting and you'll be less likely to resort to those last minute meat based meals.
- Know Your Nutritional Needs - Simply cutting meat out from your normal menu is not only boring, but you may be missing out on essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. This handy food pyramid for vegetarians will outline how many servings of each food group you need and what non meat foods you can eat for iron and protein, etc.
- Build Your Recipe Base - Search through your cookbooks for any good vego meals. Alternatively, the internet is a great resource for finding delicious vegetarian recipes the whole family will enjoy.
- Keep it Simple - Vegetarian food doesn't need to be difficult and it doesn't require rare herbs only grown in the shades of Africa to taste good either. I personally like vegie soups and pastas since they're easy to cook, they're nutritious and my kids eat them!
- Love your Lentils - Lentils are one of my favourite things to cook with and eat. They're a great source of iron and can easily replace mince in most dishes like bolognaise, cottage pie, lasagne and more. To substitute, use a 400 gram can of lentils per 250 gram of mince required. Alternatively, use 1/4 cup of dried lentils per 100 grams of mince.
- Get Creative - Your traditional meat based meals can be handy for providing inspiration. Try sliced eggplant instead of veal for your snitzels, use vegetable patties in burgers, use tofu in stirfries, use vegetarian sausages in casserole dishes or bake a nut loaf in place of your traditional Sunday roast.
- Choose Carefully - Opt for pasta sauces and filled pastas that don't have meat in them. Choose vegetarian cheeses that don't use animal based rennet. Look for vegetable based stocks (like Massels) and other food items that don't have bacon or meat in them. Or try ordering a vegetarian meal next time you're dining out.
- Think of Your Health - Vegetarians typically have a longer life expectency due to a reduced risk of heart disease, a better immune system, a lower risk of cancer, better diabetes prevention, lower blood pressure, improved digestion and healthier cholestrol levels.
- Think of the Animals - Truth be told, I'm a big softie and a highly emotional person too. Eating a chicken, but not my dog seemed hypocritical to me and the thought of an animal sacrifising its life for me was a sharp realisation. And get this: You could save 100 animals a year with a meat free diet.
I'm no dietician or claiming to be any kind of vegetarian expert. I am just a mum who has a keen interest in nutrition, wants to lessen my impact on this earth, respect all living beings and provide my family with healthy,
nutritious meals. For further reading on going vegetarian, check out this Vegetarian Starter Kit.
P.S I love to hear your comments. Have you thought about going vegetarian? What's stopped you? Let me know!