It’s easy to say you plan to become a vegetarian but when it comes down to doing it, it’s not that easy. First, we have been raised as meat eaters. Second, restaurants and commercially sold food mostly cater to carnivores. Third, vegetarian options are more expensive than meat. Fourth, most recipes cater to carnivores. And lastly, where do they get proteins?
So, let’s get to know our vegetarian friends better, maybe we’ll join them someday? We’ll also share some simple vegetarian recipes which you can try at home.
History of Vegetarianism
According to History Channel, the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, best known for his mathematical contributions, was actually the Father of Vegetarianism. He and his followers believed that all living beings had souls – animals included, so they abstained from meat. In fact up, a meatless diet was known as the “Pythagorean Diet” until the 1800’s when the modern vegetarian movement began through the formation of the Vegetarian Society.
Most anthropologists deduce that early humans would most likely be vegetarians as well. Since plants were more accessible and safer to get rather than hunting for meat. Scientists also observe that our digestive system closely resembles herbivores, even though we eat meat. So, maybe vegetarians are on the right track after all?
Buddhist monks are also firm followers of a vegetarian diet for the following reasons: First, Compassion for animals; Second, they consider it a healthy lifestyle and avoid diseases; and lastly, commitment to a simple life. Buddhist monks still practice vegetarianism strictly. Although not all Buddhists are vegetarians, some only abstain on days of fasting.
Vegetarianism VS Veganism
Vegans and Vegetarians are similar in that they do not consume meat. But Vegans do not limit their abstinence from animal products to just food.
Vegans not only abstain from meat they also abstain from any consumption of food or use of product that is made from animal byproduct like leather, animal skin, eggs, dairy, butter, wool, and silk. It doesn’t end there, they will not purchase any product where animals were harmed in any way during the manufacturing or testing process.
Types of Vegetarians
I was surprised to know that there are 3 types of vegetarians:
- Lacto-ovo is the most common type of vegetarian. People follow this diet do not consume any type of meat but consume dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto are vegetarians who eat dairy products but abstain from eggs along with any type of meat.
- Ovo are vegetarians who eat eggs but do not eat dairy products along with meat or poultry
Meat Substitutes and Protein Sources
The questions that boggles carnivores about vegetarians is – where do they get their protein? Don’t they miss meat? You’d be surprised – just as I was – to know that there are actually a lot of protein-packed, meat-tasting substitutes out there. We list some of them here:
Tofu is made from soybeans which are high in protein. It’s readily available and easy to cook. You can choose the firmness of the tofu you need based on what you’re cooking. There’s silken tofu and firm tofu which are best for frying. They also soak up flavor really well.
Eggplant is a good source of protein and has texture that resembles meat. Like tofu it also soaks up flavors of the dish they are cooked in.
There are many types of mushrooms out there and all of them are delicious. They are very flexible and can be cooked whole or chopped and made into a patty.
These cook quickly and inexpensive, they can be made into meatballs, added into stews or soups.
Beans and Legumes
Chickpeas, beans and other legumes also add texture to non-meat dishes and are high in protein.
More reasons to turn Vegetarian
Aside from being kind to animals, here are more reasons for you to consider:
- By choosing a green diet you reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, obesity and other diseases.
- By avoiding meat, you avoid being exposed to growth-promoting drugs, hormones and other chemicals that factory farm animals are fed or exposed to.
- You reduce your carbon foot-print. Animal factories contribute to global climate change. By choosing to eat green, you lessen your part in all of it.
- Tips on Going Green
- Pace yourself – You can go cold turkey or take a staggered route. But it is said that to incorporate a habit into your life, you have to do it strictly and straight for 21-days. If you achieve this, then it becomes your new normal lifestyle.
- Start with what you know and love – you can start by swapping the meats in your favorite recipe with any of the meat substitutes above.
- Remember why you are doing it – It seems that going vegan or vegetarian is really about beliefs and commitment. On days you are tempted, remind yourself the reason why you did it in the first place. This reaffirms your decision and makes you stick to it.
- Ask friends to support you –They don’t need to join your cause but ask them to support you by meeting at a vegetarian-friendly restaurant.
Simple Green-friendly Recipes
Here are some recipes to get you started on your journey to going green. These are simple and a great way to get you started on your green journey.
- Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry – This is easy to make. You can have them with rice or toss some cooked Asian noodles right before to plate them.
- One Pot Vegetarian Pasta – Who doesn’t love pasta? This recipe lets you into the pasta action without the guilt.
- 3-Ingredient Vegetarian Brownies – no eggs were harmed in this recipe. Having dessert with your vegetarian meal alleviates the feeling of deprivation.
Respect for Goals to go Green
Personally, I admire these people who are treading down this green path. It takes firm discipline and it comes from a place deeper than just a goal to be healthier – a goal to be kinder to animals and our planet earth.