- Lifestyle & Sports
- 14 Sep 21
There has never been an easier time to go vegetarian, and moving to college is an ideal time to do it. It’s cheaper, healthier and once you grasp the basics of vegetarian cooking, you can go on to experiment with new recipes and flavours. Hannah Gibson gives us the 411.
Know Your Substitutes
First thing’s first – scope out your meat substitutes. It is important to ensure that, in cutting out meat, you’re still giving your body all the protein and vitamins it needs.
As a vegetarian, tofu will likely be your best friend. Made from dried soy beans, tofu is hugely versatile. It can be baked, breaded, fried or marinated, and made crispy or soft, depending on your preferences. That said, there’s also a whole other world out there. Tempeh and jackfruit are growing in popularity and becoming more widely available.
And if convenience is your thing, Quorn nuggets are a widely available favourite, while plant-based burgers, sausage rolls and sausages can all be found in supermarket fridge and freezer sections.
Cover Your Bases
One of the biggest arguments against going vegetarian is that it’s boring. Simply removing the meat from your current cooking might result in meals that are a little bland or lacking in substance, so rejigging the basics of your cooking can provide new, stronger flavour foundations on which to build.
Working within the same family of flavours ensures cohesion within a meal. Spice and seasoning is paramount, but using tomato, extra garlic, onion and olive oil can also fill out flavour in pasta dishes. Noodles, meanwhile, can be easily made more interesting using a combination of ginger, garlic and chilli along with sesame oil, sriracha and soy sauce.
Don’t quit cold turkey (pardon the pun)! Feeling guilty about your eating habits isn’t healthy, either, so don’t worry if this takes some time. Start by cutting down – for the first little while, only eat meat with two or three meals per week.
Get Out, Get Online
Searching for recipes online, asking friends for recommendations and taking to YouTube and TikTok will all help expand your repertoire.
YouTube and TikTokers can give sage advice and clever recipe hacks for versatile substitutes. Check out: @iamtabithabrown, @ballehurns, @thekindnessechoes, @zaccarybird and @rawmanda.
Setting out a list of core ingredients and matching meat substitutes in advance saves the stress of desperately searching in the fridge and finding nothing to cook with. Jotting down weekly meal plans in a journal will help you to see how much meat you do eat, and where you can cut down. Plus, planning a grocery shop will save pennies. It’s win-win.
Once you have the basics down, you’ll only become more comfortable with experimenting. What’s the worst that could happen? Continue to use the flavours and ingredients you find tasty, Many traditional dishes in Indian and Mediterranean cuisine are vegetarian-centric. Even Irish dishes such as colcannon or stew would have been made without meat, until it became widely available. So keep it fun!
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 15 Sep 21