Resolutions abound as the New Year approaches. Not only are we stuffed on holiday delights, but we are full of promises to ourselves to be better and eat healthier. In a recent article, Most Vegetarians and Vegans End Up Eating Meat Again, one of the most common reasons for a vegetarian’s reversal of declaration, was lack of community. They didn’t want to “stick out” from the carnivores in the crowd. This actually surprises me because there are so many vegetarian options available now that didn’t exist before. Vegetarian restaurants are prevalent in metro areas, traditional restaurants have increased their vegetarian selections, even food trucks have adopted vegetarian alternatives. The shock value of being a vegetarian is almost inconsequential.
Being a vegetarian is a lifestyle. It’s not a fad or trend that you float in and out of. And if you think about it, any time you adopt a new lifestyle, you’re going to have some hiccups from your “old life” and there will be folks around you who aren’t going to readily understand your new found conviction. So, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty for caving to peer pressure (just because we’re adults, doesn’t mean we don’t cave). Instead, strengthen your resolve by being better prepared when you are in the company of carnivores. A good offense is better than a good defense.
Here are 4 tips for staying the course as a newbie or recommitted vegetarian:
Understand being a vegetarian is a personal choice. Just like religion. You wouldn’t stop being a Buddhist just because people in your group or you hang out with are Catholics? Have faith in yourself and your convictions. It’s your life and your health. Don’t give power to the naysayers by giving up.
Spend some time online checking out vegetarian blogs Do a search for vegetarian recipes that feature your favorite vegetable – everyone has at least one they can tolerate.
Increase the amount of plant-based ingredients you use at home and order when you’re out.
Experiment, experiment, experiment. The more you play around with and explore different flavors and ingredients, the more you’ll realize the world is filled with endless vegetarian options. For every meat-laden dish, there is a vegetarian dish that will knock its socks off. The cookbook list below will give you a head start on discovering new, bold, sweet, savory, fresh and phenomenally delicious vegetarian cuisine.
Note: If you’re not big on cooking, no worries. When you’re out and about, frequent restaurants that feature “farm to fork” menus (or food trucks that source local ingredients). They tend to have more vegetarian options than those that don’t and are usually suitable for carnivores and vegetarians.
The carefully curated cookbooks below are all the inspiration you need to take being a vegetarian, one day at a time. Each month, I will feature a book from the list and post a weekly recipe accompanied by an interview with the author. I want readers to eat with their eyes first, and then for content. Even if you are a “seasoned” vegetarian or “foodporn” addict, you will not be disappointed. We’re talking about endless pages of vibrant, flavorful, fresh and wholesome recipes.
1. Eat Clean Live Well by Terry Walters (Sterling Epicure, 2014)
2. Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry (Ten Speed Press, 2014)
3. Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin (Harvard Common Press, 2014)
4. The Vibrant Table by Anya Kassoff (Roost Books, 2014)
5. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ten Speed Press, 2014)
6. But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy Turner (The Experiment, 2014)
7. Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger (The Experiment, 2014)
8. Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luis Vindahl (Hardie Grant Books, 2014)
9. The Southern Vegetarian by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence (Thomas Nelson, 2013)
10. Plant Powered for Life by Sharon Palmer (The Experiment, 2014)
11. Whole Grains by Julie Karla (Karla’s Nordic Kitchen, 2014) and Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin Anderson (Fair Winds Press, 2014)
12. Pure Food by Veronica Bosgraaf (Crown Publishing Group, 2015)
I can assure you, with these authors and cookbooks, your journey and commitment to being a vegetarian will be nothing short of mind-blowing and enlightening. Don’t miss the interview series with each of the authors or the recipes, subscribe to my feed (see button below next to social media icons) or follow me on Instagram for the featured recipes at @vegetarianaficionado
(Full disclosure: I received copies of over 25 books, including some in the list. However, all of my reviews, opinions and/or other commentary expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned in my column nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me.)