My reasons for not going completely vegetarian have to do with nutrition--but any meat we eat is humanely raised, with optimum nutrition density (pasture-fed, etc). I always feel better when I'm doing mostly vegetarian though.
Any advice on getting started? I'm honestly afraid of relying so heavily on grains and beans that I won't be getting the micronutrients I need. Also, I need to get DH and DS (3) to enjoy the food as well. Maybe there's a good book or blog somewhere?
PETA has vegetarian starter kits I believe. I also found this guide. It's much easier to be a vegetarian now than it was when I started. There are lots of options out there for tasty foods. It's not all rice and beans. Nut butters and nut products are great. There are many products made from plant proteins that you can find in regular grocery stores and natural food stores. It depends on how restrictive you want to be. Eggs and dairy products can provide a lot of protein too.
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Honestly, I'd like to be lacto-ovo vegetarian, with an occasional humane meat broth for the B-12? B whatever that you can't get from plant protein. I'm a pretty firm believer in a lot of traditional foods, but my body tells me that I feel best when I avoid meat 99% of the time.
Thanks for the ideas!
I love cooking so I enjoy perusing recipes and trying new things. "Meat avoidance" has been my motto for probably 20 years now. I don't really think much about it, really. Having vegan / vegetarian cooking blogs in my "favorites" is an easy way to maintain a stash of new vegetarian recipes to try. I also pick meals based on high nutrient veggies and whole grains. It can be as complicated as Indian curries with a zillion spices and veggies or as simple as a baked potato with steamed broccoli and some grated cheddar.
Of course, I may be lucky because DH has no problem with me keeping mostly vegetarian at home. Neither does DS. He inhaled the potato and okra curry dish I made last night...and he's six.
A lot of "mainstream" meals can be made vegetarian without much thought: pizza with veggies; pasta and marinara (I add cannellini beans for protein); grilled cheese on wheat with tomato soup (who doesn't like that?!); black bean burgers and sweet potato fries; chopped salad with chickpeas....
If you're concerned about micronutrients consider getting a juicer. I bought one this month and I love it! The juices are delicious, and it feels so healthy to drink a big tall glass of dark green juice! I don't think there's anything healthier you could put into your body. I started looking into juicing as a way to kick-start my transition to eating vegetarian/vegan. It's been a great success for me.
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you need support. its not easy starting something you are not really sure what to do. what you need are mentors IRL. join a vegetarian or vegan club.
first find out what vegetables are out there. go to your grocery store and farmers market and the wild areas around you. then make a mental note. do you know how to cook those veggies.
the key about being a vegetarian is to change your cooking and eating habit. actually u dont have to be a vegetarian to do that. the key is to eat the variety around you. dont stick to the usual veggies. we've really restricted our diet to only a handful of foods. in teh last 100 years we only eat 10% of the variety we used to eat.
honestly you dont even have to be a vegetarian. cutting down your meat is good enough.
however it is a lifetime change and even vegetarians need help in this meat based society. it seems scary coz the meat industry and dairy industry has very convincingly done a big number on us - that we cant do without them. no one lobbies for the vegetables. no one talks about how american health is deteoriating because people are not eating their fruits and veggies. and yet because we eat cooked meat, we are not really getting our nutrients when we dont eat our veggies. imho regular pizza is a crappy food. even a veggie pizza. its just the bread that fills you up. once dd ate just the topping off of a large pizza and it still wasnt enough to filll her up at 8. thin crust with a bunch of veggies on them. now that's a healthy pizza.
go spend hours at a bookstore. whenever life allows you. look at the vegetarian cookbooks they have there. see which ones speak to you. pick one and then try the different recipes in the book. veggies are like meat. you dont need to do anything to them. just get fresh veggies and they taste DELICIOUS. for instance baby potatoes. just roast them in the oven for about half an hour with just some olive oil and salt on them.
the key is variety. right now its squash and leaves season. learn to cook with squash. make it a goal to eat 10 different squashes this winter. if you lived in an agricultural state you could easily eat 20 different kinds. not summer squash but winter squash. and lets say eat 10 different kinds of leaves, not including spinach or lettuce. try chard, kale, dandelion greens, beet greens, radish greens. arugula... and all their own variety.
it isnt easy being a vegetarian. it will require some work on your part. its very easy and doable, but in the beginning it seems REALLY daunting.
find yourself a support group. THAT will be your greatest help. they have potlucks. you can go and ask them how they made it. and learn that way. they love having 3 year olds around.
I've been thinking about a juicer for a while, but I can't get one until I know for sure what I'm going to do with all the pulp. I have a friend who will hopefully be composting soon (I can't right now for various reasons) and then I can give it to her. But yeah, I like the idea of juicing.
As for support groups.. There are vegetarian support groups? I will definitely have to look into that--I need to see how other people get young children to eat better. I may start with some purees (just read French Kids Eat Everything and hopefully some of those ideas will work also).
Slightly off topic: I have three small eggplants languishing in my fridge... what the heck do I do with them? (from a CSA)
eggplant is an acquired taste. i wouldnt cook it by itself and eat it by itself in the beginning. you can roast it with parmesean cheese on top (most common way) or grill sandwich http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grilled_eggplant_sandwich/ you can make it out of skinny eggplants.
how do you get young kids to eat better. by eating well yourself. by eating together and NOT forcing things on them or insisting. slowly cut out anything in their diet you dont like. however your child has to be open to that. some do change, some change much later in life. you can encourage them, but if they are unwilling you cant really change their mind about food - coz there might be something going on why they are rejecting that food.
give them lots of choices. ask them to have a no thank you bite.
Hi, I became a vegetarian when I went to Nepal and learnt how to cook many nutritious meals without meat. What's more, there are many ways you can combine foods so that it makes proteins you don't usually get without meat. The easiest way is to combine rice with lentils, a classic in Indian and Nepali cuisine. They often serve basmati rice with daal, a lentil soup they pour over the rice, and then vegetables on the side. This makes up a great meal, you can make the vegetables vary according to season, and I just love it.
Oh that sounds so yummy... I actually got some lentil soup at the store today so I could heat it up for dinner with some bread, but I love the rice idea. As for vegetables... I have some squash that I could maybe sautee... hmmm...
If you like indian food taste, I can point you to lots of very good, educational indian cooking blogs.
For nutritional scientific education to give you peace of mind, I would recommend Eat to Live by Dr. fuhrmann.
born on April 3 '10
http://manjulaskitchen.com/( she has corresponding youtube videos for almost all recipes. Very helpful to watch! Just dont expect to understand her accent. For recipe, refer to the written version on website)
born on April 3 '10
It can be really easy to transition to less or no meat. Things that you already know how to make with no meat, then things that the meat can be left out, and trying new meatless cooking. Like, muffins, cereals, fruits, and coffee are already vegetarian, so you've got breakfast covered. For lunch, just leave the ham off your sandwich. For dinner, slop some pasta sauce out of a jar onto some noodles. Make a tuna casserole and just leave out the tuna. Or vegetarian baked beans and cornbread. Try some veggie dogs. Easy-peasy.