going vegetarian

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by vekselmanpeter, May 17, 2013.

  1. vekselmanpeter


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    At home cook
    Hello everyone!

    I'm Peter, and I'm new to the forum.

    How are you guys doing?

    I have a question, how difficult it is to turn vegetarian?  I ask because, I am doing so for health reasons, and I want to know how easy (or difficult) it is to cook vegetarian dishes.  Do I need to buy new cooking equipment so to eliminate any "meat taste" in my stuff?

    Also, concerned about the use of spices in vegetarian dishes.  Do spices and vegetables work well? I hope so because I really love spicy dishes.

    Thanks, and looking forward to great feedback.

    Peter Vekselman
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2013
  2. french fries

    french fries

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    At home cook
    Hi Peter and welcome to the forum. It's very easy to cook vegetarian dishes (although you can also find some very complex recipes out there, of course). 

    Spices and vegetable work GREAT together. Ask the Indians! In fact if you're turning vegetarian I strongly recommended you learn Indian cookery. They are masters at vegetarian cooking. They have recipes that will seduce the most die-hard meat lovers. An example would be Malai Kofta, which is absolutely fantastic.
    If you're doing it for health reason then why do you worry about any "meat taste"? And if you're worried about taste, don't. I mean, you're washing your equipment with soap, and your food doesn't taste like soap. Same with meat. You won't have a meat taste. The only reason I can think of to consider new equipment is if you have VERY SEVERE meat allergies... 

    So study grains, study legumes, beans, lentils, nuts of all kinds, etc... and study Indian cookery. 

    Best of luck! 
  3. siduri


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    At home cook
    I recommend a couple of cookbooks, that will give you new ideas about vegetarian cooking - try not to make meat substitutes, which are usually weird and never really satisfy but to find new sources of complete protein. 

    For the science of it, which is important, i recommend Laurel's Kitchen cookbook.  It;s heavily hippyish but very well researched as to what you need to eat not to have any health problems.  You won;t lack for iron or protein or other substances if you use the principles there.  The recipes aren't the greatest, though they do give an idea how to think about meals. 

    But the very best vegetarian cookbook i ever used is Ottolenghi's Plenty.  I highly recommend it.  There's a review of it on this site that i wrote some time ago.  It has recipes for real food based on traditional principles (most people in the world were vegetarian by necessity and there are many cuisines that have evolved with no meat in sight. 

    The one thing not to do is to make meals as you used to (with vegetables as side dishes) minus the meat.  Make the vegetables interesting and satisfying and the main dish.  And do some research on traditional cooking from places where meat was scarce for the majority of people.  - not just asia but also europe.  Look at Italian traditional dishes:  Pasta and ceci, lentil soup on toasted stale bread rubbed with garlic, olive oil crust turnovers with endive, garlic, pine nuts and olives, polenta with cheese, pasta e fagioli, minestrone...  all of these have complete protein through combinations of grains, legumes and seeds, cheese, etc. 

    Vegetarian meals should be MORE interesting, not less, because meat is good just as it is, but vegetarian meals need combinations of foods that can be really interesting. 

    And you don;t need any special equipment. 
  4. koukouvagia


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    Home Cook
    Some equipment that I find very useful for prepping vegetables are: a mandolin, graters of different sizes, a vegetable brush, a few peelers, mortar & pestle.  Vegetables are lovely and they come with quite a bit of prep work.  Good luck and make sure that if you start to feel a little fatigued to get your vitamin B12 levels checked.
  5. chicagoterry


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    Home Cook
    I was vegetarian for over 30 years and, no, you don't need any special equipment. Keep your pots and pans. They will be fine. The only things you must make sure you have are a couple of very sharp knives. I've gotten by for my entire cooking life with a chef's knife, a paring knife and a bread knife. Keep them sharp and, if possible, take a knife skills class. You will be chopping a lot of vegetables.

    I also never once prepared a "meat substitute" so, as someone says above, you can--and should--avoid those. They are pretty repulsive. I also rarely ate tofu. There are other sources of protein out there, especially beans of all kinds. You must make friends with legumes. And they need a LOT of seasoning.

    At first you may be tempted to over-rely on cheese/eggs/dairy for your protein. This can lead to a diet much higher in saturated fat than you want, especially if you are doing this for health reasons. 

    Many, if not most, of my cookbooks from my vegetarian years (and, which I still use) are ethnic cookbooks. Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Asian cuisines all feature delicious meatless dishes. I like spicy and very flavorful food, so I find ethnic cookbooks more to my liking than most vegetarian cookbooks.  Laurel's Kitchen, if it's still available, has a lot of good nutrition information in it but the food in it is too bland for my taste to actually cook out of. I finally donated my copy a few years ago because I hadn't used it in years and years. Anna Thomas and Deborah Madison are two good vegetarian cookbook writers and the Moosewood cookbooks are pretty good.
  6. kokopuffs


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    Home Cook
    Former chiro here who taught health science for several years.  A couple of things.
    • Take a vitamin B12 supplement as it's necessary for peripheral nerve function and furnished by meats.
    • To get all of the essential amino acids, eat a combination of grains and legumes
    • Take a zinc supplement.
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  7. foodnfoto


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    Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is also a really good starting point.

    Lots of terrific variations on a theme that give your meals variety. With nice takes on classic "meaty" dishes.

    Tofu can be really, really great! My trick is to marinate for about 15 minutes in Bragg's Aminos, then roast in a 400˚ oven for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Top a salad, put it in a panini, top a baked potato, or serve with brown rice and steamed veggies. It's tasty.
  8. Iceman


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    Professional Chef
    I don't know ... You might find 1 or 2 good recipes here: 

    Good Vegan EATs ... (Vegetarian Too!)

    I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin.   It's 4 pages.   There's gotta be something decent in there.        

    Let me know.   I'll be happy to help you with anything I can.