Food – Think Differently

Gone are the days when a vegetarian had to visit a strange smelling, brightly lit health food store to buy provisions. Now, any decent size market stocks soymilk, quinoa, veggie burgers and even seitan. Certainly there are more vegetarians than ever, but there are also a lot of people who want the benefits of a vegetarian diet but don’t want to commit to it 100 percent. As they discover how delicious vegetarian cuisine can be, they want to have their tofu and eat chicken, too. Some people simply give up beef and pork (these folks are sometimes labeled “pollotarians”). Others are vegetarian most of the time but break the rules for special occasions or when a serious craving hits.

For some time now, American meals have consisted of a main course—meat—accompanied by sides. The newly minted vegetarian may, at first, simply replace the center-of-the-plate meat with a veggie lasagna or tofu dog. …

Vegetarian meals work well as a series of individual dishes that complement each other without a single item stealing the show. Soup, salad and a crusty loaf of bread can be a filling and delightful dinner. A vegetable gratin or a colorful stir-fry could be the centerpiece for an elegant dinner. The possibilities are endless. …

There are more colorful options to choose with veggies, fruits and grains than you would ever find with meat. Variety is an important ingredient in any meal, especially a vegetarian one. Choosing a colorful array of foods doesn’t just look pretty; it provides a good range of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. The colors can come in a series of smaller dishes—a green salad, cornbread, black beans and rice—or you can mix colorful vegetables in an Asian-style stir-fry or other main course.

Think out of the box when it comes to traditional dishes. A salad doesn’t have to be the standard lettuce with dressing. It can also be an exotic salad, sliced tomatoes with avocado or just an assortment of crisp raw veggies. Turn a favorite vegetable into a casserole or gratin to make it more filling. Resize an appetizer recipe and call it a main course (or vice versa). If you’ve got a taste for a popular meat-containing dish like lasagna or fajitas, indulge in it vegetarian style.

The Vegetarian Bible, Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, Illinois, 2011, 5, 6.