6 THINGS I LEARNT SINCE GOING VEGGIE
MyFoodways is all about enjoying Good Food that works for everyone’s unique Foodway. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing a glimpse into the team's own food journeys. This time Laura tells us what she learnt when going veggie last year.
Last year I decided to go vegetarian. People’s reactions were fascinating. Aside from the standard questions (“But how will you get enough protein?”) I was surprised to see how so many people somehow saw my new vegetarianism as an unspoken comment on their own diets. The way I see it, everyone needs to find their very own Good Food happy place. But if you do decide that veggie is the way for you, I thought I’d share a couple of tips that I picked up along the way.
1. Try out new meal structures
To start with, there’s the temptation to just eat as you ate before and miss out the meat. Don’t go there. No one wants a side dish for dinner.
Although there are plenty of veggie alternatives for the traditional carb + veggie/salad + meat combo, I’ve become a huge fan of veggie-filled one pot dishes that combine lots of different tastes and textures.
Think risottos and pasta dishes, salads and stews, curries and stir-fries.
2. Get a bit more adventurous in the kitchen
There are so many vegetables out there just waiting to be eaten. Eating seasonally is a great way to try out whatever produce is currently freshest and encourages you to try out new versions of your favourite recipes. When I first went veggie, I bought a new seasonal product a week and challenged myself to find three different ways to cook it. My favourite recipes then went straight into my weekly meal rotation.
Some veggie products also need a bit of thought - but don’t give up on them! Tofu, for example, I just didn’t get until I figured out that it tastes completely different when frozen, roasted or marinated. Now I’m a total convert.
3. Don’t go too cheese crazy
I once asked a friend why she was veggie and not vegan and she answered in one word: cheese. I understand. I live in Switzerland, surrounded by tasty cheese options. But switching out meat for huge blocks of high fat cheese is not necessarily the answer either.
Try enjoying it grated as a topping or always have some lower fat options handy in the fridge.
4. Keep some veggie-friendly protein handy
It may be the standard question you’re faced with, but it’s true that you need to think a bit differently about protein when you first go veggie. It definitely took me a while to figure this one out. Now I always keep a few cans of beans and some frozen tofu handy and generally cook a big batch of lentils at the start of the week and pop them in salads or stir them into sauces. Hummus is also a great option and freezes really well.
5. Storage isn't sexy (but saves on shopping trips)
When you first go veggie, it’s easy to get a bit overexcited and buy loads of fresh new produce... but then you notice a few days later that your lettuce is wilted and your carrots have gone rubbery and you’re not quite sure how to combine them into a viable dinner. Of course, no one wants to come home and spend their evenings reading about how to store vegetables (*yawn*). But figuring out where your favourite products are happiest will save you a lot of time, money and random emergency dinners in the longer term.
Not sure where to start? Check out this article: How to store all your summer favourites
6. Going unprocessed can save you money
The good news is: there are loads of veggie alternatives appearing on the market. The bad news is: sometimes they can be pretty pricey as regular purchases. Since going veggie I have grown to love my food processor. You can literally chuck any vegetables or beans in it, add some herbs and spices, an egg (or a flax egg) some breadcrumbs or oats and maybe a little cheese, roll them into balls or patties and pop them in the oven ... and voilà you have yourself a veggie burger or homemade falafel. Half the price of shop bought, seriously tasty and generally on the table in under 30 minutes.
I developed the MyFoodways app to make it easier for everyone to find and enjoy their own Good Food happy place. For new veggies, it includes plenty of quick and easy, protein-packed recipes that adapt to what you have in your cupboards and come with tailored storage and leftover tips.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!