Switching to a vegetarian diet can be daunting, especially when you are fond of eating meat. However, the transition becomes easier with the right planning and the right foods. This article will explain how to become vegetarian when you love meat, including the types of food that you can rely on.
How to Become Vegetarian When You Love Meat
If you love meat and want to become a vegetarian, it is unrealistic to expect a sudden change. When switching to a vegetarian diet, the most important thing is to be realistic and cut down on meat slowly. That way, you will not only reduce the amount of meat in your diet but also control your cravings.
Remove Meat Gradually
Luckily, you don't even have to cut down meat consumption dramatically initially. All you need to do is have only one day per week without meat, which is reasonable for anyone. In fact, many people already have a meat-free day in their routine. When you feel accustomed to a meat-free day once a week, it is time to extend the meat break to 2 days.
This transition from 1 meat-free day to 2 meat-free days per week can take one week to one month, depending on how well your body adjusts to the change. Keep increasing the meat-free days in your diet gradually to become a flexitarian.
A flexitarian eats meat but restricts its consumption significantly; hence they're also semi-vegetarian. Slowly, you'll notice that your taste buds have changed considerably, and you don't like meat as much as before.
Similarly, you increase the intake of plant-based foods, which results in a general aversion toward meat. As you eliminate meat from your diet, your body will now crave vegetables, not meat. There will be occasional meat cravings, but they can be managed easily.
Look for Vegetarian Alternatives
Meat lovers have some amount of meat in almost every dish they like. So, giving up on it can be tough. However, the way out of this problem is to find vegetarian alternatives to your favorite dishes.
For instance, if you like fajita with different types of meat, you can switch to a mushroom and black beans dish instead. It is highly nutritious but doesn't contain as many calories as meat. Similarly, minced meat or qeema is a popular Indian dish that you may like. Here are some alternatives to your favorite meat-based dishes:
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
Luckily, there's an amazing vegetarian alternative available in cauliflower buffalo wings. Douse the florets in sauce and bread crumbs, making them crunchy and crispy, giving you the same texture as original buffalo wings.
If you can't give up on burgers, you don't have to, as you can try some delicious vegetarian burgers. The falafel burger will provide you with the same taste and texture as your favorite beef burger.
You need chickpeas, red onion, cumin, coriander, flour, chili powder, etc. Make a blend of all the ingredients and turn them into patties. Heat the patties until they're light brown, and enjoy it with salad, tomato salsa, and pitta bread.
Chickpea Tuna Melts
The chickpea tuna melts may even beat the original recipe if you love tuna. You get the same salty flavor without the typical fishy taste by combining nori, old bay seasoning, and lemon juice. Chickpeas add firmness, replicating the texture of canned tuna.
If you want something spicy, Tso Tofu is an excellent choice. You can make it as spicy as you desire by adding dried chilies and red pepper flakes. Get some firm tofu, sea salt, garlic, cornstarch, and black pepper, and toss them into a pan. Keep the heat at medium and add some oil. Cook it for 8 minutes until the tofu gets golden and crispy.
King Oyster Mushrooms
As the name suggests, the core ingredient in this dish is the king oyster mushrooms. Luckily, you can shred the oyster mushroom perfectly into something like pulled beef. You will also need some spices, depending upon your taste.
However, the best options are smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne. Smoked paprika adds a roasted touch to the mushroom. To make it a proper meat alternative, you will also require a high-quality BBQ sauce.
Preparing the pulled pork mushroom is simple and doesn't take much time. Just toss the shredded mushroom into the spices and bake until it's crispy. Some people saute the mushroom instead of baking it, but that takes away the firmness, which is crucial for making it a realistic pulled pork alternative.
Always shred the mushrooms with forks and bake them for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°c. Saute only after you've baked the mushrooms. Transfer them to another pan, add BBQ sauce, and stir for 5 minutes.
Make a List of Your Favorite Recipes
One of the problems most vegetarians face is lapsing back to meat. Since beginner vegetarians need to make an extra effort to get their diet right, many give up and start eating meat again. The way to get around this laziness is to make a list of your favorite vegetarian dishes that you can prepare anytime.
This list should contain 20+ dishes so that you're not constrained in your choice. You can find hundreds of YouTube videos of easy-to-prepare vegetarian dishes.
The advantage of following YouTube recipes is that you see the cooking in front of your eyes instead of following a written recipe that doesn't have enough visuals. Try to focus on dishes that can be prepared within 15 minutes to save time. From roasted vegetables to a chickpea curry, you will have several recipes that can be prepared in little time.
Try to be more creative on Sundays and lookout for something new you can add to your list. If you're bored, try a different combination of the ingredients you have already used.
Don’t Force Yourself to Eat What You Don’t Like
The switch from meat-eating to vegetarianism can only be successful if you like what you eat. If you force yourself to eat dishes that you don't like, you will revert to being a meat-eater sooner than you think.
Vegetarians can have problems with many plant-based foods, such as spinach, lentils, etc. Some complain that spinach leaves a strange taste in their mouth, which they can't get over. Similarly, some say they don't like cauliflower. Different people have different dietary preferences, so you should experiment and find out what you like.
When cooked alone, you may not like some foods, but combining them with others may make them more palatable. For instance, if you don't like courgette, try cooking it with lasagna. Similarly, some people don't like lentils because they are dry.
However, you can enjoy their taste and health benefits if you use them in non-dry dishes like curry. Satisfaction is necessary for sticking to a diet, so make sure what you eat satisfies your taste buds.
Best Vegetarian Foods for Replacing Meat
Removing meat from your diet can leave a large gap that needs to be fulfilled as effectively as possible. It is not just about meeting nutritional requirements. Meat also has a distinct taste that is hard to get over. So you need vegetarian alternatives that provide adequate nutrition and taste well. Let us discuss some of the best vegetarian alternatives for meat.
Tofu is a food made of soy milk and is part of several Asian cuisines. It is usually firm and cube-shaped. It has a beany taste which means it can go well with lots of dishes, just like beans. Moreover, its texture makes it ideal for marination. Whether making a classic dish or a modern one, tofu can be accommodated easily.
Besides that, tofu is also rich in protein. It comes in different variations depending upon its firmness. Soft tofu can be used in smoothies and soups, while the firm and extra firm tofu can be used for frying and grilling.
Since tofu is a versatile food, you can use it to make several delicious dishes. One of them is the tofu and broccoli green curry. Prepare a green curry paste. Heat the oil in an oven and add ginger, garlic, and onions. Keep stirring for 2 minutes, and slowly add brown sugar and coconut milk to it.
Add broccoli and tofu once the mixture starts simmering, and keep heating it for 12 minutes. Once the mixture gets thick, remove it from the heat and add lemon juice or soy sauce. The tofu broccoli curry goes well with several dishes such as rice, tortillas, etc.
Seitan is made from white wheat gluten and has a chewy texture like meat. However, it has gluten, so those who want their diet to be gluten-free should stay away from it. It is rich in protein but low in fat. You can cook it in multiple ways and eat it with different dishes.
Usually, people cook seitan themselves, but it is also precooked in grocery stores. Seitan absorbs flavors well so that it can go well with various dishes.
One of them is the Vegetable Stir Fry, a nutritious and healthy dish you can prepare anytime as it is really simple. It has everything from the crunchiness of vegetables to the savory sweetness of the sauce. Stir-fry vegetables are amongst the most delicious and versatile dishes available. You can modify them endlessly by adding or removing different ingredients.
So there is no set recipe to follow, but vegetable stir-fry generally can be divided into vegetables, sauce, and rice or noodles. Once you have learned about these parts, it becomes easier to tweak the dish based on your preferences.
The best way to make a vegetable stir-fry is to use multiple vegetables to get a colorful result that combines different tastes perfectly. You can use broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, asparagus, zucchini, etc. The sauce is another important part of the dish, and its sweet and savory taste transforms this dish.
To prepare it, heat the pan and drizzle some oil into it. Add broccoli and salt, stir it for 2 minutes, and take it out.
Put some oil in the pan again with mushrooms and salt, and stir it for 2 minutes before taking it out. Repeat the same process for snow peas, garlic, ginger, etc., and add the remaining broccoli and mushrooms. Add the sauce and stir continuously until it thickens.
Ripe jackfruit isn't a good meat alternative as it tastes sweet and floral. However, an unripe jackfruit provides a much closer taste to meat and has starchy flesh, making it a good meat alternative. Pulled pork has been particularly difficult to replicate in labs because of its texture.
However, jackfruit naturally provides that texture, and its flesh also absorbs taste. It doesn't have lots of protein but is packed with fiber.
The jackfruit sandwich is a great addition to your menu. The sauce complements the meatiness of jackfruit perfectly and gives you a juicy and delicious burger.
Soak jackfruit for 4 hours in water at room temperature and remove the seeds if needed. Heat some olive oil in the pan until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook it for 5 minutes before adding half a cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup chili-garlic sauce, 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.
Stir the mixture and add 2 cups of apple juice and jackfruit. Boil it on high heat, reduce the heat to medium after bringing it to a boil, and cook it for 20 mins on medium heat. Taste it and add sauce if needed once you feel like the jackfruit is shredded like meat.
Cook it a bit more and add some water if it seems dry. Now put it on buns with cabbage, pineapple, avocado, etc., to enjoy the perfect vegetarian sandwich.
Following the right plan and eating the right foods can help you get rid of meat from your diet. If you want to make meat-eating a thing of the past, make sure you go slow and steady. Finding delicious alternatives to meat is another important part of the plan.
However, if you still have issues in the transition, try sticking to meat for a little longer and extend the timeline.