People ask this a lot: what Do vegetarians eat in general and/or when they're considering a vegetarian diet to lose weight? Perhaps you'd be surprised, then, to learn that at least some of us enjoy a varied and interesting
diet. In fact, we eat many of the same things omnivores do, in addition to the great vegetarian dishes available to us.
Yet, some apparently imagine a
vegetarian diet to consist mainly of rice and beans...as in daily. In fact, I once knew a person who appeared to believe exactly that (although she was probably just trying to jerk my chain). You will be shocked—shocked!—to learn that people sometimes do that, right? ;-)
But let's get serious here, because you may be serious yourself about plant-based eating. Accordingly, I assure you that I'm nuts about rice and beans properly prepared; however, there’s also no way I’d eat those every day of the week...or even close to that frequency. Nor would such a combination do much for a weight-loss project if too frequently consumed. Instead, I eat many of the things you probably do yourself.
Like these, for starters: salads and stir fries; pizza and pasta, perhaps to "borderline" excess; hearty main dishes such as (vegetarian) shepherds pie and chili; and even hot dogs and burgers now and then. The only difference between my diet and that of an omnivore is that my "meat" dishes feature a substitute instead of the meat itself. And, for the most part, those taste pretty good.
Well, how about Texas
chili? My husband and I have modified Craig Clairborne's sensational recipe, substituting tofu for the beef but keeping
pretty much everything else including the wine and beaucoup chili powder. It's delicious, and one of these days I’ll post that recipe
for the chili freaks among us.
Besides soy proteins, my husband and I also make use of seitan often, which has quite a bit of protein. So we often toss that into pasta dishes in lieu of meatballs, chicken, etc. But please don’t try this yourself if you’re gluten intolerant! If you’re not, though, it can be a great meat substitute and, when dehydrated, makes wonderful road food.
standby at our house is pasta—cheese and spinach ravioli, for example, but also
many, many other versions adapted for a vegetarian diet. Spinach lasagna, for
example, makes a hearty and delicious main dish for family and dinner guests alike.
These pasta dishes work for my husband and me because neither of us is vegan and neither of us is trying to lose weight. If either were the case, we’d need to find substitutes for the cheese. Someone who can help with that and other culinary challenges is Joanne Stepaniak, who wrote the wonderful Vegan Vittles. She offers a white-bean pasta sauce, for example, that is to die for. In fact, the legume family in general offers wonderful possibilities.
So, what do vegetarians eat? As you see,
a lot of the same things you probably do yourself, just modified a bit. And you'll be able to do the same, if/when you choose to follow that path.
Meanwhile, calm your fears (if you have them) about having to exist on peanut butter sandwiches...although you could certainly have one now and then if you're not trying to lose weight. In fact, peanut butter sandwiches with bananas mashed in or tomato slices added are sensational! As are salads, and you’ll begin to discover delicious ways to build whole meals around a hearty salad. How bad could that be?
Just trust me on this, okay? You'll have plenty of great stuff to eat if you begin following the vegetarian path. Something to remember, though: it's critical for vegetarians and vegans to get enough Vitamin B12 down the hatch, so please keep on eye on your intake.
Living Vegetarian the Easy Way
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