I know what you’re thinking. “How is she going to make meat, without the actual meat?” Well, I am here to show you how to make some of your favorite nonvegetarian food completely vegetarian/vegan friendly. There are a lot of reasons that people choose to eat meatless recipes. So whether or not you classify yourself a vegetarian/pescetarian/vegan, stay tuned for some of my favorite vegetarian meat recipes.
Now, I have been a vegetarian my whole life, so I have taken extra measures for authenticity/deliciousness by testing these recipes on my friends who do eat meat, so I can get my food yummy-approved.
In this post, I am going to break down how vegetarian cooking has been done and what ingredients have been traditionally used. You will find that you probably know most of the ingredients and are familiar with these methods of preparation. Next, I will detail the basics of modern vegetarian cooking. That is, this new generation that has become more open to trying new recipes and ideas. Then I will talk about what I think are the important basics of vegetarian meat, including ingredients and styles of preparation. Lastly, I will talk about the importance of adding variety through vegetarian meat recipes into our diet.
Traditional Vegetarian Cooking
Traditional vegetarianism has typically been based on vegetables, grains, beans, and other plants. As someone of Indian origin, I grew up eating a lot of rice and other grains, lentils, and a vast array of pan seared vegetables. Since a lot of people in India are vegetarian, we’ve gotten incredibly good at cooking flavorful, satisfying dishes. It wasn’t until I was in the sixth grade that I realized that not all cultures exactly had this concept of eating meals without having some kind of meat. I remember going to my friend’s house for dinner because she told me her mom had made vegetarian food for me that night, and how surprised/humored I was that the “vegetarian food” was simply steamed green beans and rice(no, I am serious!). They didn’t have the concept of creating flavor with their vegetables, much less incorporating vegetarian sources of protein into their diet.
Now, shifting gears a little, I want to bring up veggie burgers. Don’t get me wrong; I love veggie burgers a lot. And while I enjoy garbanzo, black, and kidney beans in other dishes, the idea of mashing them up, shaping them like a burger and pan frying them never appealed to me.
The Basics of Vegetarian Cooking
In vegetarian cooking, or cooking in general, it is important to maintain a certain balance. I feel like today’s society tends to place protein in a very high place. Protein is definitely very important, but balance is key. In fact, many people still don’t believe that vegetarian/vegan diets can have enough protein. I have found, through my own experiences, that vegetarian/plant based diets have a tendency to hit more food groups than expected. For example, vegetables provide critical vitamins/minerals as well as fiber to our diets. Protein can be found through beans, tofu, soy, and multiple other sources. My point is that we should not disqualify an entire lifestyle choice without doing all our research.
Next, the actual cooking. It is my firm belief that you can make anything taste good if you only know how to cook it. And that has held true for me, because I certainly do not like every vegetable there is, but I have found them to be quite tasty when cooked a certain way.
The Basics of Vegetarian Meat
Like I said before, I have had vegetarian meat recipes and alternatives that just do not make the cut. It is not always the goal to make a meal that tastes exactly like meat, but some of these options have been mediocre, to say the least. I am not trying to say that we should all go all out and make the delicious Impossible Burger… Most of us, myself included, don’t have those kinds of resources and machinery.
But from my own experience, I will share some of the ingredients and preparation techniques that I have found work for me and I will keep updating you guys on my food adventures whenever I find new ways to cook!
First, I want to talk about Trader Joes. Honestly one of the best sources of veggie meat, I highly recommend their veggie beefless crumbles, which I use for a bunch of recipes. The texture and juiciness of the product lends itself very well to recipes that end up tasting like the real deal. Something else from Trader Joes that I think is wonderful are their Smart Dogs, which are delicious and filling. I know that spaghetti and hot dogs is a thing, but I haven’t tried it yet, so at some point I know I will try it out and make a post here on how it went for me.
Next, vital wheat gluten. When I came across this miracle food I was so excited. If you have read my previous post about chicken nuggets, you have already seen how versatile and simple it is to use and cook. More recipes coming soon!
Why We Should Diversify Our Food Options
I want to take this opportunity to talk about why we should all diversify our food options. First off, meat isn’t sustainable. At least the way and the rate at which we are consuming meat isn’t a sustainable practice. Our carbon footprint and our watermark is off the charts and we are putting an unfair strain on our planet. Secondly, a lot of meat, especially red meats, are cause for health concerns and food bourne illnesses.
But I understand. People love meat! So that is why I feel it is important to look for options in satisfying our cravings for meat from other sources. For me, I would eat meat, if it only weren’t cruel to animals and tough on our planet. But I am all for having the taste!
I am super excited to embark on this journey with all of you. I am going to be learning alongside you guys and look forward to seeing you all soon on my recipes!
Janani <3 <3
As a confirmed carnivore looking for some healthier meal options, I found your website more interesting than I honestly thought I would. To be honest, if I accidentally land on a vegetarian food site I usually leave straight away – especially if I see the word, “vegan”!
You hit the nail right on the head when you portrayed the western concept of vegetarian food as bland, unexciting and above all, no substitute for meat. I’m certainly interested in finding alternatives that I could work with.
I’d even consider having vegetarian days if I could make meals that didn’t leave me hungry again within an an hour!
I’ll be looking at the rest of your articles with interest. Thanks for a really interesting take on the vegetarian theme!
Thank you so much Phil! It is my goal to make vegetarian food more interesting and satisfying for meat lovers 🙂