- Adapt familiar dishes, but don’t be put off by unfamiliar foods and new recipes.
- Treat yourself to a vegetarian cookbook for inspiration and advice. Check out those in our shop.
- Start gradually. Adapt familiar meals such as lasagne and shepherds pie by using textured vegetable protein (TVP). TVP absorbs water to have the look, taste and texture of mince or meat chunks, according to which variety you buy. It is available from health food stores. If you don’t buy the flavoured variety, be aware that you need to add seasoning of some kind or it will remain bland and uninteresting.
- Buy vegetarian cheese if you eat dairy. Whereas some cheeses are made with an ingredient from the stomachs of slaughtered calves, vegetarian cheese uses vegetable-derived rennet. Almost every supermarket now stocks at least one kind of vegetarian cheese, such as the Mainland Vegetarian cheese range.
- Buy free-range eggs if you eat eggs.
- Read the labels. A lot of foods contain hidden gelatine or animal fat. Eg lollies, biscuits, yoghurt, sour cream.
- Look for the Vegetarian Society Approved logo on products. It tells you at a glance that the product is 100% suitable for vegetarians.
- Legumes: Dried beans and lentils are cheaper and easy to cook, but the easiest option is tinned.
- Adapt familiar dishes. If you’re the only vegetarian in your family and it’s too difficult to cook totally separate meals, adapt a meat dish. A casserole, for instance, can be made with beans and vegetables in one pan. Then the meat can be cooked separately and given just to the meat eaters. Or use TVP and see if anyone notices the difference.
- Don’t be put off by unfamiliar foods. Tofu, for instance, is so useful!. This product made from soya beans is a complete protein, incredibly versatile and easy to use. It absorbs the flavour of other ingredients, so use with strong flavours (or use a recipe).
- Explore health food stores. They’ll have vegetarian products you haven’t seen before, and the assistants will be able to answer your questions about products suitable for your new lifestyle.