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Going Vegetarian or Vegan
Although some people find it easiest to go ‘cold turkey’, if you are considering making the change to a vegetarian (or vegan) diet we recommend that you make the change gradually. But find out what works for you and go with it. Keep a positive attitude and remember to focus on the wide variety of foods you can eat instead of what you can’t eat.
You can start by eating 2-3 meatless meals each week. And when you do eat meat, make it a side dish instead of the main dish.
Making the change slowly gives the body time to adjust to the change in diet. It also has the advantage of allowing you to find out more about nutrition and about vegetarian foods so that your diet is both satisfying and nutritionally balanced from the start.
It is important to be educated about diet and nutrition. We have a considerable amount of nutritional information our website which may be of use, and also have many books in our library that can be borrowed free of charge.
Health and Nutrition
It is very important for vegans to ensure they regularly consume adequate quantities of B12-fortified foods (e.g. Sanitarium Marmite and some brands of soymilk) or take a B12 supplement.
To ensure adequate intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, it is recommended that vegetarians and vegans regularly consume flax seed (linseed) oil in their diet, about 1 dessert spoon full each day. Flax seed oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 and can be included in the diet in a variety of ways.
For some fantastic products that are suitable for vegans, check out a Jewish deli or the kosher section of your local supermarket!
LIVE IT: Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases with a Vegetarian Diet
Cooking and Recipes
Many animal- and dairy-based ingredients can easily be replaced with vegetarian and vegan alternatives in most recipes:
- Butter, suet, dripping: non-dairy margarines (e.g. Nuttelex), and even vegetable oils, can be used as a replacement in most recipes
- Eggs: egg replacer (e.g Orgran No Egg) can be used as a binder in cakes or biscuits to replace eggs.
- Milk: soymilk, rice milk and grain milks (depending on taste preferences) can be used to replace cow’s milk in most recipes.
For example, I have modified my Mum’s traditional Christmas pudding recipe which calls for beef suet, milk and numerous eggs, to instead use Nuttelex margarine, Vitasoy Vanilla Delight soymilk and No Egg egg replacer instead.
It turns out virtually exactly the same and is much healthier. (I also make custard for the pudding by heating some additional Vitasoy Vanilla Delight soymilk and thickening it with corn flour. And I then top it all off with heaps of So Good vegan ice cream! Yummo!)
Garlic Bread and Herb Bread
Garlic bread and herb bread can easily be made vegan-friendly by using vegetable oil or Nuttelex margarine instead of butter.
Binding Veggie Burgers
A few days ago some friends and I tried to make vege burgers but were having trouble getting the ingredients to bind. We then noticed that another friend’s burgers bound quite well and when asked what she used, she said that she’d crushed a few weet-bix and put them in the mix.
I suppose egg-replacement might work as a binder, but so does this – it fries well and stays together in the burger. Not as useful for gluten-free diets, obviously.
Many Asian restaurants and take-aways use fish, oyster or seafood sauces in their ‘vegetarian’ dishes.
Ask them to use a soy-based sauce instead. Most will happily oblige.
If you are at a restaurant that doesn’t offer many vegetarian dishes, take a look at the meat-containing dishes and determine if they can be prepared as vegetarian dishes instead.
For instance, a pasta dish mixed with vegetables and shrimp could easily be made without the shrimp.
Garlic and herb bread can easily be made vegan-friendly. Ask the waiter to have the chef use vegetable oil instead of butter.
Pantry and Meal Ideas
So you’re thinking of going veggo, or you’re wanting to increase your number of meat-free meals, but you’re not sure what to eat/cook?
Here we outline some quick meal ideas and list some staple veggo foods that are great to have on hand in the pantry and the fridge.
If you have any suggestions please email us at email@example.com
- breakfast cereal (e.g. Weet Bix, muesli)
- LSA (Linseed Sunflower Almond meal) (great for sprinkling on breakfast cereal)
- peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- fruit spreads/jams (preferably sugar-free)
- rice syrup (great honey alternative)
- rice cakes/dried biscuits/rice crackers
- sweet biscuits
- nuts (it’s good to have a variety – almonds, mixed raw nuts, brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews)
- pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- sunflower seeds
- cous cous (preferably wholemeal)
- pasta/noodles (rice-based or wheat-based, preferably wholemeal)
- rice (preferably brown)
- dried beans or tinned beans (it’s good to have a variety
- chick peas, kidney beans, kidney beans, lentils, four bean mix etc.)
- baked beans
- canned re-fried beans
- quinoa (a delicious high-protein grain great in curries, casseroles etc.)
- falafel mix
- TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- pasta sauce
- tinned tomatoes
- instant soup mixes (e.g. miso)
- tamari (authentic traditional soy sauce)
- tomato sauce
- stock cubes
- gravy mix
- herbs and spices for stir fries, curries, casseroles etc.
- olive oil (for frying)
- coconut milk
- Engevita savoury yeast flakes (nutritional yeast) (great for making nutritious ‘cheesy’ sauces)
- wakame/kombu/nori (seaweeds)
- vegetarian jelly mixes and desserts
- wholemeal flour, raw sugar, oats, dates, nuts etc. (for home-made baked cookies and cakes)
- corn chips
- last but not least we recommend always keeping on hand a small stash of chips, chocolate, lollies, confectionery etc. (They may not be good for your nutritional health but eating a little ‘junk’ food occasionally can be good for your mental health! You don’t want to be too restrictive with what you eat, and a little bit of ‘junk’ doesn’t hurt providing your diet is otherwise healthy and well balanced.)
- crispers full of fresh seasonal vegies!
- a good range of seasonal fruit!
- soy sausages or other meat alternatives
- flaxseed oil (excellent vegetarian source of omega 3 essential fatty acids)
- rennet-free cheese or non-dairy cheese alternatives (great for toasted sandwiches and cheesy sauces)
- Nuttelex margarine (dairy-free)
- bread (preferably wholemeal/sour dough/rye/spelt, but whatever you prefer)
- pita bread (Lebanese bread)
- curry paste (watch out for fish/seafood extracts – read the ingredients label carefully)
- crushed/minced garlic
- pâté (e.g. sun dried tomato pâté can make a really yummy pasta sauce)
- dill pickles
- sundried tomatoes
- sweet chilli sauce
- wheat germ (for sprinkling on breakfast cereal)
- maple syrup
- Australian Fresh fruit juice (in our opinion this brand is the best!)
- meat alternatives
- frozen spinach / spinach portions
- ice cream!
- puff pastry
Tips & Quick Meal Ideas:
- mushrooms and tomato on toast with soy sausage, and avocado on toast
- buckwheat pancakes with banana, maple syrup and lemon & sugar or ice cream
- savoury pancakes with mushroom
- crisp fresh summer salads with beans, celery, gourmet lettuce, tomatoes and dressing, with home-made dips with mushrooms, garlic, onions, chilli and hommus
- corn chips with baked beans/re-fried beans, salsa and tabasco sauce, with salad
- pita bread with hummus, falafel, tahini and salad
- veggo burger with wholemeal roll, tomato sauce and salad
- baked beans on wholemeal toast with salad
- instant miso soup with a bowl of rice and steamed asian greens and tamari
- wholemeal spaghetti with pasta sauce and salad (sometimes mix in beans)
- baked potatoes with salsa, corn and kidney beans and salad
- sandwiches with vegetarian luncheon ‘meat’, lettuce, tomato and hummus