There’s this wide spread belief that vegetarians only eat salad – but this is completely far from the truth. Perhaps it was the case twenty or thirty years ago, when vegetarianism was a curse word and veganism wasn’t even around, but today the awareness of vegetarianism is only gaining momentum, and it doesn’t seem like it’s about to stop any time soon.
Vegetarians find more and more appropriate replacements for meat, and their food is becoming a lot more varied, and that much more appetizing! Being a vegetarian isn’t so hard these days, as more and more restaurants are serving vegetarian dishes, and the variety continues to grow. These meat substitutes are both surprisingly nutritious and incredibly delicious, and they are guaranteed to make you at least consider converting to vegetarianism.
Long-time vegetarians already know this, but if you’re new to this, it’s time to learn the magic of seitan – the ultimate meat replacement. Seitan is a processed wheat-gluten – made of the main protein of wheat. It’s the most meat-like product out there, as its texture is almost identical to that of meat. Basically, seitan doesn’t have any taste, but what’s great about it is that it absorbs tastes of spices – so if you spice like a meat dish, it will taste like a meat dish! The best part about it, though, is that it’s full of protein, so it provides you almost the same amount of protein as meat does.
Lentils are the second-best option after seitan. In fact, lentils have been a vegetarian’s best friend before people discovered seitan. What makes lentils an ideal substitute for meat is their high nutritious value: they are rich in protein, fiber and minerals – which we usually consume from meat. Another reason is that they somewhat resemble ground beef in their texture, and so a common use for them is making either lentil “meatballs” or lentil “Bolognese” sauce. And the best part – lentils are a lot more affordable than meat.
In third place we have the good old tofu, a crucial ingredient in any vegetarian kitchen. There are a number of reasons why tofu holds a place of honor for vegetarians: much like seitan, it absorbs flavors through spices, and so you can make plenty of varied dishes from it. you can also make it as firm or soft as you like and use it as a substitute for chicken or beef. One popular use is chicken curry with tofu.
Beans (and other legumes)
Much like lentils, beans can be a great substitute for ground beef dishes such as meatballs or burgers. They are also affordable and easy to find, so they make for a decent replacement for vegetarianism, and much like lentils, you can make pretty much anything from legumes.
Vegetarian restaurants often use mushrooms as a replacement of the patty in burgers – either one big mushroom or chopped mushroom parry. Mushrooms resemble meat in texture and somewhat in taste, so they make for a fine meat substitution. The recommended kind, the one that is richest with the earthy, smoky aroma we’re looking for in meat, is portobello mushrooms.
Eggplant and cauliflower
These are another two vegetables that are exceptionally popular in the vegetarian world. Eggplants can make a rich, “meaty” addition to many dishes, such as lasagna, and cauliflower make for an ideal addition to every vegetarian meal. You can fry it or go with the healthier choice of baking it – both options are surprisingly delicious, and you can also make a cauliflower salad or “rice” as a side dish.