In Australia we have such an abundance of food and once you discover the options you may even reflect on how limited your diet actually was before you became a VEGetariAN.
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There are some people who believe that VEGetariANS are deprived of tasty food but actually the opposite is true. Going VEGetariAN doesn't mean you have to give up any of your favourite foods as these days there is a vegan version of all of them. There are now delicious vegan versions of almost every meat, dairy and egg product with all the flavour but without causing any animal suffering and environmental destruction.
Some people believe that they will have to spend more time shopping, looking for food and more time in the kitchen cooking and preparing meals. This is definitely not true. It may have been more difficult 20 or 30 years ago to find interesting vegan food but now with the increase in the VEGetariAN population there is an abundant variety of food for VEGetariANS and much of it you will find in your local supermarket. Some other good places for VEGetariAN food are health food shops, some of the larger fruit and vegetable shops (look in their dairy section and you will often see tofu, veg meats and burgers etc), Asian supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops and Indian grocery stores.
Some of the basics you may want to keep in your kitchen
fruit and vegetables - a wide variety and organic if possible and the more raw fruit and vegetables you can eat, the better. Try to eat at least five different vegetables every day.
grains - brown rice, white rice, variety of types of pasta and noodles, oats, barley, corn
legumes are pulses - peas, beans, lentils, lupins, soybeans, chickpeas (if you are lazy, you can buy these canned. Although fresh is always best, canned legumes can be very handy for making quick meals and snacks and still have a lot of nutritional value.
baked beans - surprise! Yes, good old canned baked beans are actually very healthy- full of protein and iron. Great for breakfast on toast with orange juice (vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron) or for a snack any time of day.
healthy bread - (organic if possible)
nuts - great to have a few varieties. Put them in jars on the kitchen bench to snack on any time of day. You can also use almonds and cashews in cooking. Most people find peanuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts and pistachios very tasty. Walnuts, almonds and macadamias are great in deserts, cakes and sweets.
seeds - sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle them on stif fries, in soups, in smoothies, anything.
vegemite - a good source of iron and b vitamins. Be aware that it is high in salt.
miso - an Asian food eaten for centuries with great health benefits. Miso is a thick paste made from soy beans. There are a number of varieties and brands and each taste different. Miso is delicious added to hot water for an instant soup or can be added to cooking or used as a dip or spread. You can find miso in most health food stores and all Asian supermarkets. The best miso is a thick paste sold in a plastic bag or plastic container. The lighter miso is milder in flavour and the darker is stronger. You'll have to experiment with the different styles to see which ones you like.
tofu - once you find out which kind of tofu you like you may want this in your fridge all the time as you can use it in almost any meal. These days you can buy tofu at most supermarkets but some will have more variety than others. At first, until you become experienced using tofu in cooking, keep it simple- buy hard tofu to stir fry with vegetables, to add to casseroles, curries, Mexican food, Indian and Thai curries, add to pies or grill to put on toast. Soft tofu is good for making deserts or for mashing into food such as pasta sauce, curries, casseroles and Mexican beans to add more nutrition and texture. By itself, tofu has very little flavour. It takes on the flavour of the food it's cooked with. Tofu is not essential for a healthy diet if you are eating a variety of whole foods.
There are also varieties of flavoured tofu that are ready to eat hot or cold. These are tasty and are great on sandwiches or with salads but can also be cooked with vegetables for a hot meal. More information about tofu and soy food
tempeh - this is a food made from soy beans and has been eaten by Asian cultures for centuries. It is very healthy, full of protein, iron, vitamin b and other nutrients. Unlike tofu, tempeh has a very strong taste and is usually either loved or hated. It is nice grilled or fried and used in stir fries. A quick healthy snack is grilled tempeh on toast. It can also be bought in patties to be eaten on buns as tempeh burgers. Available at nearly all health food shops and many supermarkets.
vegetarian meat substitutes - these are obviously processed foods so some people like to avoid these. They do give you that full feeling which people who are making a transition from animal products may like (at least at first) and some people find them very tasty and they do have some nutritional value. There are are so many of these so you will need to try many to find the ones you like. Sausages, veg bacon, veg chicken, steak, frankfurts, sausage rolls, veg burgers etc. The taste also varies with each brand so if you try one brand and you don't like the taste, try another brand. Some fruit and vegetable shops are now stocking some of the meat substitutes. Chinese supermarkets and fruit and veg shops will always have a variety of tofu as well as a range of vegetarian meat substitutes. Some Asian shops even have a special fridge full of just vegan food. Most health food shops will have tofu, tempeh and some meat substitutes in their fridge. Some VEGetariANS love this food and others just hate it or think the idea is stupid and unnecessary.
condiments and other tasty things to always have in your kitchen - soy sauce, tamari, chilli flakes, fresh chilli, tahini, vegetarian sauces such as black bean sauce, chilli and sweet chilli sauce, vegetarian stir fry sauce, crushed garlic, fresh garlic, hommus, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, curry sauces (variety), Mexican sauces (variety) pasta sauces, coconut milk, coconut cream, ground black pepper, corn flower. All these items can be purchased at the supermarket.
Of course if you are already a great cook and know how to cook with fresh spices and herbs all the better and you won't need some of the above ready made sauces.
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