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Vegetable Stir Fry
Meat Free Cookery

Julie's tips for eating meat free, low fat and tasty.

How to Adapt Your Meals to Make them Vegetarian Friendly

When my vegetarian friend Amber moved into my house, I had visions of having to cook one meal for us and another for her. But I quickly learnt that not all vegetarians are the same, and that the majority of meals can be easily adapted to make them veggie.

So if you fancy a change, have a veggie friend coming to dinner, want to be a bit healthier this week or are even thinking of becoming a vegetarian, here are a few tips.

What is vegetarian to you?

People generally understand vegetarian means no meat. However some vegetarians eat fish but not meat, this is called being demi-vegetarian or a pescetarian.

Most don’t eat either fish or meat, the 'nothing with a face' rule as Amber likes to call it, and some vegetarians don’t eat foods containing ingredients derived from the slaughter of animals. The Vegetarian Society has a handy list of these on their web site. So if you find yourself cooking for a veggie, always ask what being a vegetarian means to them.

Adapting meals to suit vegetarians

There are loads of vegetarian alternatives to meat available. Even the most basic of food stores tend to stock Quorn or Linda McCartney's ranges, even if they don’t stock tofu, Soya or other brands.

Some people simply don’t like, or aren’t interested in, “meat alternative” products, but my advice is don’t knock it till you’ve tried it (or don’t tell them what they’ve got till they’ve eaten it!)

Personally, although I find alternatives to bacon horrid, other products like Southern Fried Burgers or Quorn mince, are just as good, if not better than the real thing. If you don’t like the grease or are trying to cut down on fat in your diet, then meat alternatives are a great way to do it.

But substituting meat for a meat free alternative isn’t the only way to make a favourite meal vegetarian.

Adding extra, and different, vegetables is the most obvious, giving you a colourful dish, and don’t be afraid of adding fruits like pineapple or mango to the mix. Another great tip is play around with the textures of vegetables. Don’t just chop and throw them in, slice, dice, spear, peel, grate and mash your vegetables.

Another idea is to add grains, pulses and nuts to recipes to create a variety of textures to a meal like you would get when meat is present in a recipe.

Here are a few of my favourites, which regularly make an appearance on our dinner table.

  • Toad in the Hole – With Linda McCartney's sausages.
  • Chicken Stir-Fry – Replacing the chicken with tofu or Quorn pieces
  • Chinese Stir-Fry – No duck or pork here, instead we mix bean sprouts, broccoli, cashew nuts, courgette, pineapple, sweetcorn, tomatoes and water chestnuts with a vegetarian stir in sauce and served with egg fried or boiled rice.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherds Pie or Chilli – substitute the meat mince for Quorn mince. With the flavour of the sauce you can’t really taste the difference and you don’t get that greasy after taste that you can get.

Well I don’t know about you but that lot’s made me mega hungry! So go on, try it veggie!

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Useful Links -

www.vegsoc.org

Find out more about events, new recipes and veggie starter packs at: http://www.nationalvegetarianweek.org/

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