veggie convert

My chicken-finger-loving friend HH is considering becoming a vegetarian, and has asked me for a few tips.

I don’t really remember making the decision to become a vegetarian. As a teenager and found myself less and less interested in dining on the meats I grew up eating, and eventually cut it out altogether. A big part of my meat-free diet is pickiness, and to make feeding myself even more fun, I also don’t eat fish or eggs. Why am I not a vegan, you ask? I’m way to cheesy to give up dairy. Ha.
Since I’m a vegetarian and Husband isn’t, people often ask us how we manage at mealtime, but it’s really quite simple. We don’t have to make two separate meals — we simply add some chicken or meat to his plate, and leave it off mine. Husband is also happy to eat meat free a lot of the time, which makes things easier (and in most cases, cheaper too).

Veggie Tip #1: There’s no such thing as too many veggies! Don’t roll your eyes at me just yet. I know that sounds like common sense when it comes to being a vegetarian, but what I mean is, don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never seen in a cookbook. I chop and mix just about any kind of vegetable into rice and pasta sauce. Experimenting is key to figuring out what combos you like most. Try broccoli and cauliflower chopped up in your pasta sauce, peas and corn mixed in your brown rice and sauteed mushrooms, green peppers and onions with garlic to top baked potatoes — I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it makes ordinary sides more hearty.

Veggie Tip #2: Try to keep track of your vitamins and protein. Once, when I was in high school, our senior class had a blood drive, and I wasn’t allowed to donate because my iron was too low. I wasn’t eating red meat and I wasn’t supplementing my iron in any way, which is especially important for women. Now I make sure to choose plenty of protein alternatives, like soy milk (the chocolate is yummy!), beans, cheese and peanut butter. I also take a multivitamin for women.
Veggie Tip #3: Beware of carbs. I do not believe in depriving myself of a delicious and frequent carbfests, but when you cut out the meat, it’s hard not to automatically fill that empty place on your plate with a roll, an extra scoop of potatoes or some more pasta — and while those things feel filling at first, they aren’t a substitute for filling proteins.

Veggie Tip #4: Trust the experts. I’m not an expert — just a veggie gal who loves to cook. There are lots of veggie and vegan blogs out there that specialize in all things tasty and meatless, like one of my faves, Happy Herbivore. Also, Vegan Dad explains why veganism is pretty normal. And he’s got some great recipes there, too!
Hope this helped, HH! Good luck!
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