Going vegetarian

Does anyone have any advice on starting a vegetarian diet? I think I’d like to try but I’m not really sure how to get started. Do I have to eat tofu? I hate the stuff. I will eat dairy and eggs. Just thought I’d ask in case there were any Dopers that had changed their eating habits this way.


No, you don’t have to eat tofu. :slight_smile: You do need to learn about sources of protein and iron. Tofu is an option and is used often because it can be made to imitate meat in many dishes. There are even Tofudogs. You don’t have to eat it.

I do recommend a frozen foods line by Amy’s. I’m not a vegetarian, but we can’t have dairy and they have some dishes that are dairy-free. It’s nice to have a convenient option for those times when we are too busy to cook. Everything I have ever tried by Amy’s is wonderful!

I have forsaken meat the past two months just for grins. I still eat correctly (getting necessary vitamins and stuff). I did it mainly to see if I could do it, since I am a cattle flesh eater from way back. I won’t ever be a vegetarian, because if hungry and available I will still eat at Wendy’s or down a deer burger at home. But, I can say that I don’t need meat and can get along quite well without it. I just don’t plan on making a habit of forsaking the magical stuff.

tofu can be delicious if it’s prepared right. but don’t ask me to tell you how to prepare it, i can’t cook except to save my life. tempe is pretty good too, and tastes better then plain tofu.
if you’re deciding on avoiding dairy as well, soy milk is pretty good, chocolate soy is yummy. lots of legumes, and garlic greens will help you with protien. 'sides, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes on the net.Veggies Unite is a web site with lots of advice for newbie vegies.

I was thinking that I would continue to eat eggs, milk (which I rarely drink at all, but I like yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream) and cheese. Rather than go crazy looking for recipes I thought I would adapt a few of my favorites first. But don’t I have to combine proteins in order to get the right combination and perhaps take a B12 supplement?

Wouldn’t say a veggie stir fry be ok for dinner? Or maybe pasta with beans and maybe spinach? I have looked at a couple of sites but find the protein thing a little complicated, can someone explain it a little more simply?


Research! Research! Research! It can be a very healthy and energizing way of life, but make sure you are getting what you need. A good way is to get yourself a couple of good cookbooks that explain the nutritional value of each recipe and compare that to a well respected nutrition daily guide.

Good Luck

As a former vegetarian, I would suggest getting a good cookbook. You don’t know how much it sucks being a vegetarian if you only know how to open and cook canned vegetables. My ex has my favourite vegetarian cookbook. It is called the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. As long as you are an ovo, lacto vegetarian everything in there will be consumable by you. If you decide to go vegan plan on giving up restaurants altogether since there really aren’t any vegan restaurants. Oh, and as was said before, do research to make sure you are getting the requisite proteins that you need. Oh, don’t forget to invest in Beano.


Don’t worry about protein. We’re overly-proteined in this country. You can get plenty of protein from dairy, just be sure that you have something with protein in most meals.

Iron is more of a concern, especially if you’re a woman. Take iron suppliments (most multi-vitimins will include it)but be sure to only take one. You can get iron poisoning from too many. If you don’t, you stand the risk of becoming enimic. (there are other foods with high iron, like salt and vingar potato chips and strawberries, but the suppliment can’t hurt.)

No, you don’t have to eat tofu all the time. I really like it, so I do. It’s high in protein, and can absorb whatever sauce you want it to, which is why the vegans like it. However, it can be tricky to cook with.

Mexican food will become your friend. Rice and beans combined make a complete protein.

Move to New York, the Dopers there are VERY veggie-accomidating. (especially if there’s meat in attendance)

Morningstar Farms has a fantastic line of all veggie food out. You can’t tell the breakfast sausage is fake. Seriously. And they have recipe crumbles, which you can substitue for ground beef. Very handy.

Good luck! I’ve been meat-free for 4 years, and love it.

Maybe it’s my own ignorance, but, aren’t eggs meat?

Being that chickens lay eggs, and chickens are meat, wouldn’t their offspring be considered meat as well? If eggs are not meat, then what are they? Fruits? Vegetables? Bread? That mysterious 5th food group?

Thanks I do plan on looking for a cookbook even if my attempt is not successful I’m sure I will find some recipes that I can use. Broccoli is a little touchy for me. I can only eat it well cooked otherwise I get a horrendous belly ache. I think I ODed on it once when I made some stir fry. I haven’t been able to eat it raw or partially raw ever since.

Just to clarify, I’m not interested in doing this because I have some deep commitment to a cruelty free world. Although it does sicken me to read about the mistreatment of food animals, I can usually forget about what I’ve heard very quickly when a nice grilled pork chop is staring me in the face. What I have been doing is looking for an alternative to what I have been doing. I need to loose some weight and since I prefer vegetables to meat then I was thinking of trying. I’m not so foolish to think that if I do start this I will not have a piece of chicken, fish or shellfish from time to time. For three years I ate a very healthy low fat diet and never ate any kind of pork and very little beef. But I’m Southern and was raised on bacon grease so it’s easy to fall back into bad habits, especially when the first things you learned how to cook were milk gravy, fried chicken, and collard greens with ham hocks.

But I have my little pots of fresh herbs and I learned to cook a few Italian dishes from a friend, Oriental food from a Phillipino aunt, and Tex/Mex from my neighbor. So this summer I was thinking of trying to eliminate meat from my diet as much as possible.


Milk is just liquid meat. Hey, you can always search here cause I know we talked about this subject quite a bit.

The cookbook I suggested does not rely on broccoli for every meal contained within. One of the dishes is called The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and is really good. It has something from every vegetable group around and is a highly suggested book to look through. MMMM

If you are looking to lose weight, vegetarianism may not be the answer. I know many obese vegetarians. I talked about one of them this weekend who had a goofy grape only diet for a while. So you know, he is a lacto vegetarian, meaning he will eat dairy but he won’t eat eggs. Anyway, he really doesn’t eat dairy very often either and he continuously gains weight not because of a glandular problem, but because he eats too many calories. FTR, he is close to 400-450 lbs now.

Just thought you should keep that in mind before you go gung ho into the new diet. You will still have to eat in moderation and possibly do some light exercising also.


Congrats! Eggs are Not meat! They are unfertilized.
But you may want to stock up on toilet paper.
I suggest beans! I love em. Pasta: there are thousands of pasta recipes.

The Moosewood Collective cookbooks are all quite accessible and informative. If you look for The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, make sure you get the updated version. The original wasn’t as healthy as it could be, mostly due to an overdependence on dairy products.

Another basic veg cookbook I like is Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, by Deborah Madison.

If you are just trying out being a veg, I would suggest getting some veg cookbooks from your local library rather than running out and buying a bunch. If you are already a decent cook, you’ll be able to adjust your own recipes without too much trouble. Or, borrow books from friends. Then you can buy the ones you really like if you decide to do this as a permanent thing. Just make sure you get ones that are fairly recent. Older books may contain misinformation, such as the need to combine proteins to make them complete. (You do need the different types, but you don’t have to eat them in the same meal as was once thought.)

It also helps to try to get away from the “main protein dish accompanied by a starch and a veggie” idea of what your plate should look like. Like many people, I grew up with this model of a “healthy” meal, and it took some time to adjust my perceptions.

I often make marinara sauce with squash or zuchini in it. It is a nice way of adding some substance to a meal without actually putting in meat. Sometimes you need to have something that is more filling.

I have some recipes in my dinner suggestions thread that are vegetarian as well.


I am a vegetarian, and you couldn’t get me to
eat tofu if you put a gun to my head. I do
occasionally eat tempeh and dairy foods. Mostly,
I reply on nuts and legumes to get protein, and
dried fruits for iron. Because of my weird blood,
I have trouble with the iron in meat. Liver literally
makes me vomit, and other meats give me a stomach

Mostly, I eat fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Thanks for all the advice…

Squash and zuccini I’m a nut for it. I just made some ziti last week with zuccini in it. In the Summer my daughter and I already eat a lot of things like pasta sauces and stir fry with no meat. That’s one reason I thought it might be a little easier. We’ve been working on this big bag of Basmati rice for a couple of months now! It was a 7 lb. bag I got at Sam’s club. I would like to encorporate more whole grains into our diet. I need to look into how to go about doing that. (I know she’ll eat all this stuff with me, she’ll eat anything with garlic in it anyway! She’s a nut!) The boy I’m not even going to try. Poor little fella won’t eat anything, just like his dad used to be. He’ll outgrow it though.

I bought some more fresh yellow squash and tiny green beans on my lunch break today. Guess we’ll have squash again for dinner tonight. I fixed some last night and my boyfriend, sister and I put a real hurt on the stuff. This morning I got up and my daughter had stuck a note on the leftover container saying…“Do not touch this squash…I didn’t get any last night…that means you too Mama!” I told you she’s a nut!


Eggplant must be a good meat substitute for recipes too. I’ve had some wonderful entrees from Amy’s and Celentano that are eggplant-based. Unfortunately when I try to make a similar recipe it never tastes anywhere near the same. There must be some eggplant secret that no one has let me in on.

Eggplant is certainly delicious, but I am not very good at preparing it. I also eat tofu and drink rice and Soy milk (but I won’t put it in my coffee, as sometimes they curdle). Tofu, especially when fried or sautee-ed, does not have that weird texture that is usually associated with this product.

Marinated Portabello Mushrooms in Newman’s Own balsalmic vineagrette is great, especially on the grill outdoors in summer. So are marinated bell peppers of all colors.

Sweet Potatoes are good, and squash too. I eat dairy products, but as with meat, they make me feel heavy, like I ate too much. If you truly go vegetarian, you’ll probably feel so much healthier - since the only thing that gets digested in the stomach is protein, many stomach problems like indigestion stem from things like meat, and just generally excess protein our bodies have no use for.

Skip the tofu.
Avoid the lettuce, if you really don’t care for salads.
All your non-veggie friends will constantly push those two at you.

I’m fond of ryebread with fruit jam and oleo.

Also lots of fruit. Don’t worry about paying more for “southern hemisphere” fruit off-season. It’s still cheaper than meat.

Add instant rice or “seed” pasta or rolled oats or couscous to any canned soup or stew to make it filling.

And avoid trying to fill up on frenchfries when eating with friends aT a burger place. They will pity you.
Eat the pie or cookies or a thick shake. Make THEM hungry.