Increasing numbers of families are moving towards a more vegetarian or vegan diet, with some even adopting such a way of life permanently. It is not hard to see why, given the numerous benefits this can offer. Yet despite this growth in popularity, there is still a certain cynicism about food that is meat and dairy free. Quite simply, a lot of people still don’t believe that vegetarian dishes can taste or even look as good as the real thing.
This is a particular challenge for parents of children who decide to try vegetarianism, and such a diet is growing most quickly in popularity among young people. If a young person in your family decided to make this change, would you know what to do?
The most important thing is to be supportive because whatever reservations you may have the benefits of such a lifestyle are well worth considering.
- Health – Most doctors agree that a vegetarian diet, or even having a meat-free day at least once a week, can have significant health benefits for both women and men.
- Economics – Compared to vegetables, meat is expensive, and prices are forecast to keep climbing for some time yet. So a switch to a diet which is based more on vegetables can be good for the wallet and means that when you do buy meat you can afford a better quality cut.
- Sustainability – Going meat-free can also be good for the conscience as a rising demand for meat has led to some highly unethical farming techniques which environmentalists claim are causing irreparable damage to global landscapes. Reducing our reliance on meat is essential to help to reverse this trend.
Ideas and Inspiration
With all this in mind, where do you start? Good food depends on good ingredients, so the first step is to find some trusted suppliers who can provide you with tasty meat and dairy free products on which you can base your dishes. Hampton Creek are makers of a range of egg-free mayonnaise, exactly the sort of store cupboard staple that it is useful to have on standby for when vegan guests drop in. In fact, you may even start off using such ingredients as a substitute yourself before finding they turn into a family favorite.
With the ingredients in place, here are some ideas for meat-free recipes that can make great family meals.
- Burritos – Fill up a soft wrap with as many tasty vegetables as you can think of. Roast onions, peppers, and tomatoes, heat up some refried beans and rice, then maybe add some cheese and serve with a spicy salsa and fresh herbs.
- Curry – Indian cuisine is known for having some of the tastiest vegetarian dishes in the world. The focus here is on spices, so find a particular blend that you like and use this on slow cooked vegetables and pulses. Our roasted smokey edamame recipe that James created has a smokey flavor that offers a new twist on an old favorite.
- Pizza – Another popular dish that can almost be vegetarian by accident as there are so many delicious toppings that happen not to be meat. For any hard to please carnivores, replicate the meaty flavor with smoked cheese.
A Healthy Change
With more and more people choosing to cut down on or even give up meat completely, you never know when you could find yourself with a vegetarian or dinner guest. Perhaps you are thinking of moving in this direction yourself. Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of care and creativity to serve up a dish that combines all the flavor of a meaty meal with the benefits of a vegetarian one.