Vegetarian cooking can be as easy or as gourmet as you like. Getting to know a few key ingredients can be invaluable, as can having a really great vegetarian recipe book or two. Favourite non-veg meals can often be modified with a little experimentation.
If you’re new to vegetarian cooking, keep in mind including regular sources of such nutrients that you may have previously relied on animal products for, such as iron, protein, B12 and zinc. See our Health and Nutrition sections for more information.
Beans and lentils – high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, legumes are super healthy, cheap and filling. Buy them in cans or cook in large batches and freeze. Add to soups, stews and salads. Make dips out of them. Enjoy them in nachos, burritos and plenty of Mexican dishes.
Tofu – love it or hate it, tofu is an incredible source of protein and calcium. It’s very versatile. It can be an acquired taste, but well worth gaining. Try various types, as it comes in all sorts of textures from silky (very smooth, good for desserts) to firm (good for chunks in cooking). Different brands also taste different so don’t give up if you don’t like it first time. Most commonly, firm tofu is the best place to start, as it’s closer to our familiar textures. Try fried tofu, which is chewier. Tofu can be found in supermarkets, most Fruit and Veg shops and Asian supermarkets.
Savoury Yeast (otherwise known as Nutritional Yeast). Similar to Brewer’s yeast (which can be used in the same way) but has a nicer flavour and often comes in flakes as well as powder
which can be used in other ways. High in protein and B vitamins, savoury yeast can give a cheesy flavour to sauces and gravies. It’s also fantastic on toast.
Nuts – can be added to cakes, salads, cereal or eaten as healthy snacks. Grind them and add to gravies, cereals and baking. Nuts contain a vast array of minerals, as well as healthy fats
and protein. Many studies have shown them to increase longevity, so find ways of including them in your diet.
No Egg – use as an egg substitute. For other egg substitutes, see here.
Plant-based milks – there are a huge variety of non-dairy milks available now, including soy, rice, almond, coconut and oat milks. Each has a different flavour, and each brand also can be very different. Some (eg coconut milk) lend themselves to curries and desserts more than for adding to coffee and tea. Experiment and find your favourites.