Vegetarianism is on the rise; with more and more people worrying about the long term health effects of too much red meat, some families are if not giving up meat, drastically cutting it down. Another reason for this trend is undoubtedly the fact that meat is very expensive and people are keen to find cheaper ways to feed their families.
Meat is not a vital part of a human’s diet; with careful planning and some understanding of the requirements which we all have in terms of vitamins and minerals, it is possible to eat a good and rounded diet without meat or with very little.
Many people complain that vegetarian meals do not taste “complete” or that they feel something is missing, or they are not as “tasty” as meals which do include meat or poultry. However, a lot of this is due to the fact that people assume that vegetarian meals are comprised only of vegetables when in fact nothing could be further from the truth!
Vegetarians and vegans replace meat with beans, pulses and certain “meaty” vegetables such as Avocados and mushrooms.
Herbs and spices add flavour and careful presentation means that your mealtimes as a vegetarian can in fact be far more interesting than a meat eater’s daily menu!
Even children do not need meat on a daily basis to maintain a good weight and many children are not naturally keen on meat anyway.
So if your family is looking to reduce the grocery bill or to eat in a healthy fashion, then cutting down on or cutting out meat can be a good choice for you.
Some of the best vegetarian recipes are those which include a good variety of flavours such as soups and stews as well as curries. Vegetable soup is simple to make even for non-cooks and it can make a wonderful starter or a lunchtime meal when you add fresh bread to the menu.
Children naturally enjoy fruit and raw vegetables and even toddlers will be tempted by platters of brightly coloured vegetables for dipping; cut cucumber, pepper and carrot sticks and arrange them around small pots of peanut butter and cream cheese for a child-friendly starter to your meals. Add strips of pitta bread which have been drizzled with oil and herbs and lightly toasted.
For main courses look to thick curries and stir fries, rice or pasta teamed with a fragrant curry is a filling and healthy way to eat and the best thing about this type of food is that it is easy to freeze large portions for later use.
Bean burgers are a good choice for a treat and are simple to make, combine two tins of drained red kidney beans with fine breadcrumbs, one beaten egg, finely chopped onion and coriander and mold into burger shapes. Cook slowly in a frying pan with a little oil and serve with salad in bread buns and a side of potato wedges. Children can rarely tell the difference between a vegetarian bean burger and a beef burger.
Ensure that your store cupboard is kept stocked with a good variety of herbs, oils and spices and buy fruit and vegetables regularly to ensure that you don’t run out of options.