Making the Transition

Many people go vegetarian overnight, while others make the transition gradually. Do what works best for you – the following tips will help you along the way.

  • Begin by using more vegetables in meals that you already eat. Take the chicken out of your curry and replace it with tofu or soya chunks, which if cooked right, taste even better. Replace the meat in your keema muttar with minced soya. Use lots of vegetables in place of  the chicken in your spaghetti, and replace the mutton in your biryani with soya chunks. Bake stuffed peppers or capsicum with rice or potatoes. Use tofu instead of paneer. Flavoured rice or pulav can be made with a mix of seasonal vegetables. Order pizza without the cheese but loaded with vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
  • Veggie burgers are available everywhere. Try making patties with soya mince or vegetables. Soya mince tastes like real meat if it is cooked with the right spices – it can fool even diehard carnivores.
  • Explore the many vegetarian foods that have been popular in other countries for years, such as hummus (a tangy spread made from chickpeas) and falafel (a spicy mix of beans that can be made into patties and meatballs).
  • As you cut more and more animal products out of your diet, you will want to make a habit of reading labels to make sure you are buying products that are healthy and humane. Although the green dot on packaging has made shopping an easier task, look out for dairy in the ingredients as well. Biscuits might contain animal fat or even eggs, some soups are made with chicken stock and other products contain animal ingredients you will want to avoid, such as gelatin, which is made from animals’ bones, skin and hooves.Instead of …
    • Meat: Use tofu, mushrooms or root vegetables.
    • Ghee or butter: Use vanaspati or any other vegetable oils instead of ghee. Instead of butter, sauté in water or vegetable broth, use lemon and oil as a dressing and cook with vegetable margarines and oils.
    • Eggs in baking: Use self-rising flour, which is available in the market.
    • Milk: Rice or soya milk can be used instead.
    • Ice cream: Try delicious and healthy frozen desserts such as fruit sorbets, candies, golas and slushes.

    ‘What Are Mock Meats and Where Can I Find Them?’
    Soya products are known as mock meats. India is one of the largest exporters of soya. Experiment with soya to make it taste like mutton masala.

    ‘I Would Be Bored Eating Just Bean Sprouts!’
    Anyone would! But we are lucky to be in a country where almost every town has a vegetarian restaurant and where a wide variety of vegetarian foods are available in the market. From South Indian curries, dosas and idlis to North Indian dishes such as aloo gobi and daal tadka to Thai curries, you will be surprised by the many options that you have as a vegetarian. At home, experiment with mock-meat recipes, and you will never miss your chicken biryani. For recipe ideas, log on to PETAIndia.com or call us and we will help you.

    Meat Substitutes

    • Tofu: Tofu is a culinary chameleon. It is high in protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals and is cholesterol-free. The firm style is best as a replacement for meat – especially when marinated, baked or stir-fried. For an extra-chewy, meaty texture, tofu can be frozen, then thawed.
    • Nutri Nuggets: These soya chunks (textured vegetable protein) can be used in almost any recipe that calls for meat.

    When You Are Away From Home

    • If you are stuck at a behind-the-times restaurant without any vegetarian offerings, ask if the chef can whip up a vegetarian entrée. Most restaurants will gladly accommodate special requests, and you will be surprised at the creativity of some chefs!
    • When dining at someone else’s house, let your hosts know in advance that you are a vegetarian. Offer to bring a vegetarian dish to share.
    • If you are in a large city, be sure to sample food from ethnic restaurants that offer Chinese, Italian or other ethnic foods. These restaurants normally have numerous dishes that are both delicious and meat-free!

    Read more.