I often eat alone, even though I eat with others. That statement sounds like an oxymoron, but is true for those of us that eat special diets. Meat has not been in my diet for many years now, and friends and family are usually eager to take on the challenge, so discussions ensue around “what to feed Barb.” It’s OK, though; I have gotten used to this and luckily am no fussy eater as my parents can attest!
In my younger years, being a strict vegetarian often led to confusion of exactly what that meant—especially with my older family members. One of my favorite lines in a movie is probably something most vegetarians could relate to at one time or another. The movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding shows the main character introducing her fiancé to an aunt and explaining that he does not eat meat. The aunt exclaims, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat? That’s okay, I make you lamb.”
Since I do include dairy and eggs in my diet, finding ways to eat with friends and family has not been too difficult. With a little planning, you can make many meals your own while still eating likewise with others. Along the way I have learned some tips and tricks that are sure to help whether you are a newbie or slowly removing meat from your diet.
1. Going to a BBQ? Take a mushroom! Tired of being served those Boca Burgers? Consider grabbing a Portobello mushroom on your way to the BBQ. So, maybe you are not the greatest fan of mushrooms, but it is amazing what you can do with a bit of the teriyaki or BBQ sauce and a hot grill. Hand over that mushroom and watch a happy host cook up a delicious “meaty” burger for you.
2. Use a meat alternative. There are a number of meat alternatives that are so easy to cook up, and they pair well with some veggie-friendly side dishes. Quorn is an excellent example of a protein product that has a similar texture and feel to meats such as chicken and beef. I go crazy for the chicken herbed cutlet…yum!
3. Borrow some ingredients. Many times I will grab ingredients being used for dinner and create my own dish similar to what is being served. For example, if it happens to be spaghetti, I simply portion out a bit of the tomato sauce and add my own “beef” crumbles or chopped zucchini and mushroom and create a veggie feast for myself.
4. Make a veggie dish and then meat it up. I am not bothered by cooking with meat. I actually do it daily for my dogs, so I am happy to do it for others. Pasta dishes and casseroles are so easy to create as a vegetarian dish, pulling some aside for you and then adding chicken or turkey to the rest. I recently made a simple veggie cacciatore that can easily be modified with chicken. Check out my recipe, and give it a whirl.
I can’t wait to read your own tips or suggestions for eating vegetarian solo!