When you first become a vegetarian, you start to realize that most things you love to eat have meat in them. Whether it’s your favorite pizza or that weird, no-name dish your mom always cooked that was called Hamburger Stuff or Potato Crap, there always seems to be at least one dish you’ll end up heaving sighs over because now that you don’t eat meat, that meal is lost to you. But it doesn’t have to be.
I can hear you now, “What do you mean it doesn’t have to be?” Just what I said. It doesn’t have to be. You can make that favorite meal anyway. You just need to know how to modify it. The key is knowing what’s available to you for substitutions. Let’s look at a few examples.
Morningstar Farms, a brand belonging to Kellogg’s, has several to choose from including steak strips, chicken strips, breaded chicken patties, chicken nuggets, breakfast sausage, and even bacon. They also have a variety of veggie burger patties and even “crumbles” meant to be substituted for browned, crumbled hamburger.
Boca Foods, a brand belonging to Kraft Foods, also has veggie burgers, breaded chicken patties, breakfast sausage links, and veggie crumbles available.
Gardein is a newer brand that has everything from Mandarin Orange chicken to Meatloaf. They also have crumbles you can purchase, along with Hot Pocket-type sandwiches in both Pepperoni Pizza & BBQ Pork.
Other brands include Sweet Earth, Quorn (uses mushroom protein), and Beyond Meat. I haven’t had much experience with those brands. There may be other brands that are available in your area, look in your local health food store or the freezer and/or health food sections of your favorite grocery store.
A favorite thing of mine to use instead of meat substitutes is mushrooms. I often use them in things like spaghetti or on pizza to give me protein. They can also be used in sandwiches, filled mushroom caps, appetizers, soups, stews, eggs, and many other things. You can use portobella, baby portobella, crimini, or any other mushroom variety you like.
If you’re allergic to soy or mushrooms, or if you’re just concerned about bad things you’ve heard regarding consuming soy products, you can always use beans.
You can use vegetarian refried beans, black beans, pinto beans, or whatever your favorite beans are for many applications. Refried, black, pinto, and kidney beans are always great in Mexican dishes.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans can also be used for a variety of meat replacements, ranging from tuna to the meat in a Greek gyro.
Sometimes, just good old veggies are the best replacements. Eggplant is a great replacement for meat as it can be made into so many different dishes. These can include eggplant parmigiana, eggplant bacon, and I’ve even seen eggplant used to make a vegan queso dip.
So there are plenty of options for those of us who don’t eat meat to still have our favorite foods. We just have to modify them a bit. Look around, get creative, and find your favorite way to make non-vegetarian dishes vegetarian.