A few people have asked me how it is possible for me to stick to a vegetarian diet. In this blog, I’ll share my diet habits and some good substitutes for a non-vegetarian diet.
I’ll accept that it is indeed hard for me to not be impulsive and head over to Chick-fil-A or Wing Stop to pick up some chicken wings. This is the situation in East Texas, where the idea of a vegetarian or a healthy dietary option still has to catch up in most restaurants and fast-food joints (entrees that are stomach-filling!). Lucky for me, I lived in Lubbock, TX for the first five years I was in this country. Although a small city in itself, it had a quite active vegetarian community and therefore I had options to explore local restaurants that provided healthy options.
The disadvantage of frequently eating out is that it can start burning a hole in your pocket. So initially, I unwillingly had to start searching for vegetarian meals in the local food stores. After many years of experimenting with different recipes, many of which didn’t leave quite a good taste in my mouth, I’ve learned to survive and ultimately enjoy the meals I make at home. What I’ve learned to do is cook food that’ll last for about two days. And you’ll be surprised to know it can last for more days (although I wouldn’t experiment too far!)
Start off your day with something not too heavy and not too light, like cereals and milk, with a glass of orange juice or something similar. If you prefer to stay vegan, there are great alternatives to milk like organic soymilk in local stores.
For lunch and dinner, I have a soup-based diet consisting of legumes like chick peas and ‘dal’ boiled together with spinach or fenugreek (the latter a pulse similar to alfalfa). Dal is a recipe made from lentils which are available in practically any South Asian food store in the DFW or the Houston area. Dal and other beans are excellent substitutes for meat in terms of daily protein and other essential intake of minerals. And don’t forget to spice it up with some black pepper or chili powder!
Alternatively, one can get some really tasty bean burgers from the local food stores here in Nacogdoches and use them as actual burger substitutes. These patties are also soft enough to eat with rice and have just the right kick in terms of flavor and spiciness.
Recently, I’ve introduced traditional American/European dishes in my daily diet like mashed potatoes and boiled beans to switch up things a little bit so as not to get tired of living on the same stuff every day. There is a great selection of various breads available in Kroger and Walmart, my favorite being the pita bread and ‘naan’. Also, keep a good stock of fruits and granola/cereal bars in your home to keep hunger away. Lastly, I personally don’t mind treating myself to an occasional pizza or a sandwich at Subway or Quizno’s. But you have to keep a watch on the amount of dairy products you consume since it’ll look all the more tempting in absence of meat.
P.S. Here are two websites to make cheap, affordable, and tasty vegetarian dishes right in your home!