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A Non-Vegetarians Guide to Cooking for a Vegetarian - 3 Great Meat Alternatives

Updated on December 1, 2011
A Serving of Veggie Burgers
A Serving of Veggie Burgers | Source

I have always been a self proclaimed carnivore for the majority of my life. I have enjoyed eating all kinds of meat, even getting dirty while doing it; snapping bones, cracking open shells and finding meat gems in-between fat and cartilage. In retrospect, this really is horrible. Nevertheless, I did it and still enjoy eating meat now and again, although my taste for it lately has been going to the way side quite a bit.

It started with falling in love with a man who is a vegetarian. Now, before you start forming thoughts of how he made me feel guilty or looked down upon me eating meat, I have to stop you. It was actually quite the opposite, he held no judgement of my eating habits whatsoever, hmmm...possibly reverse psychology? Regardless, he never did and still does not criticize me for eating meat. I will be honest, I still occasionally crave it and when it is a strong one I will enjoy myself to a serving, therefore, I do not consider myself a vegetarian...yet?

The biggest challenge of spending my days with a vegetarian is what to cook for dinner? What can I cook we will both enjoy? I am not a big fan of tofu, at least not as of right now, and I get bored with just vegetables and grains, so I turned to the meatless products that are available.

It took a bit of time, in finding the right ones for both of us; however, I am more than pleased to say we found three so far we really like. His list is longer than mine; however, he has had years of forgetting what real meat tastes like, if you are a non-vegetarian cooking for a vegetarian here are three fabulous options of meat alternatives:

Veggie Burger

Amy’s Quarter Pounder Veggie Burger; enjoy the classic American burger, without the heart stopping grease. Add cheese, avocado, red onion and/or barbecue sauce to these bad boys and you won’t even realize that what you are eating is meatless. I prefer the quarter pounder because it has the “weight” of a real hamburger, but the regular patties are just as good in taste, but not quite big enough to fill a bun.

Sausage Anyone?

Tofurkey has numerous products available, I prefer there Italian style sausage, with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. These are great for grilling on the barbecue and a fabulous alternative to a good old fashioned hotdog. They taste great and are far healthier for you. Real hotdogs, are made of left over meat parts, full of fat, sodium and who knows what else. Hotdogs made of the real stuff can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Yikes!

Pasta, Tacos and Beyond

My favorite so far, drumroll please...Smart Ground by Lightlife. These veggie protein crumbles are amazing and come in original or Mexican flavored. I have only begun to experiment with them but they have been a hit every time. I even made a meatless bolognese sauce for pasta. Being Italian, the classic bolognese sauce is a must have and an absolute comfort food for me. Next I am going to try my hand at making some meatballs and lasagna with this wonderful new find. The Mexican flavored smart ground delivers just as good, they are a delicious meat substitution for tacos, burritos, nachos and quesadillas.

In short, cooking a vegetarian meal that is enjoyed by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians is quite possible, even healthier for all involved. If you are new to this I would highly suggest one of the three meatless meats above.

It has been an interesting new journey cooking vegetarian meals and I have only just begun. I am now on a mission to continue discovering great meat alternative products that give me the protein I still need and tricks my mind into thinking I am eating the real thing.

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    • Stump Parrish profile image

      Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

      WTS, do you realize that the word vegetarian is derived from a word from the Cherokee language? I forget how to pronounce the Native American word but it roughly translates to...lousy hunter. Happy Holidays everyone and personally I am looking forward to a turducken

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
      Author

      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Archie you make a very valid point, consideration should go both ways.

    • profile image

      Archie 5 years ago

      Time you produced a companion piece: A Vegetarian's Guide to Cooking for Non-Vegetarians!

      I'm fed up going to visit vegetarian friends and being fobbed off with "tofu" or some other fake food.

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
      Author

      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Wesman Todd Shaw thank you, your comment is very thoughtful and holds many truths. It is true that when it comes to mass production, no matter what the product is, ends up being detrimental to the natural world.

      I am not one to criticize either and agree with you that it is far more important to be aware, do your own research and make decisions based on that than to judge what others do.

      Eating healthy is a great end goal, one I am constantly striving for myself!

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
      Author

      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Highvoltagewriter I understand how you feel. It's funny because a lot of vegetarians don't eat that healthy either:)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I went through a bit of a moral conundrum over veganism or vegetarianism.....and came out the other side.

      Seriously - I felt better about it having read the facts about ....how no matter what, we're all guilty for the death of animals. Cotton, grain, soy - that stuff is grown in places that animals had to be cleared from in order for it to be mass produced.

      There's no escape.

      So now I'm back to ...probably eating at least half meat - so far as calorie intake goes. Maybe more even.

      Still, I refuse to criticize the non meat eaters for their choices. It's just not a productive thing to do.

      I'm totally willing to try meat substitutes - I've honestly not had the opportunity to truly enjoy or try many of them.

      I wouldn't try them to NOT eat meat - but rather, because diverse eating habits of healthy foods can only be beneficial.

      We are what we eat, of course.

      Thanks for the great article!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 5 years ago from Savannah GA.

      I grew up a vegetarian and I feel I should eat more veggies! Thank you for your insights!

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
      Author

      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Thank you Audra, I think you are right and I am still adjusting to the life of you omnivores, possibly becoming one myself ?! I am very much looking forward to reading hubs you publish, i have a feeling they will fabulous:)

    • Audra Alexander profile image

      Audra Alexander 5 years ago from Germany

      This is a good article, especially for us omnivores who are trying to cut down on our meat consumption. I had one or two unfortunate experiences buying meat substitute products because I relied on the reviews/advice of vegetarians. But now that the food culture is turning toward healthier and more sustainable eating habits, I think reviews like this one will develop a large and loyal audience of diverse eaters!

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
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      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Hey samanthamayer, yes the tacos work great especially if cooking for a group of friends:)

    • samanthamayer profile image

      samanthamayer 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Yum. I was a vegetarian for a while but still love the taste of vegetarian meals today. A lot of my friends are vegetarians, too. Thanks for the ideas! The tacos sound good.

    • Sonia Perozzi profile image
      Author

      Sonia Perozzi 5 years ago from California

      Thank you livelonger, I am definitely going to check out Quorn!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Great stuff. I think deciding if you want something very meatlike, or kinda meatlike but not really, helps. Some meat substitutes are so incredibly meatlike, that they're a turnoff for people who don't like the taste of meat. Others are close enough to fulfill a function (like making tacos, topping a pizza, etc) but not so meatlike that they make you go "hmmm..."

      Another one to consider if you're not crazy about tofu is Quorn. They have a lot of products made out of a type of mushroom/fungus that is high in protein but has no soy.