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Beginner Vegetarian

Wow. So I have been a vegetarian for a week. School is almost out and I always plan myself little projects for the summer. This summer's main project other than taking up yoga, and helping my friend with a CD is becoming a vegetarian. I have gone through the recipes on this site and a lot of them seem very good but a little complex. I began creating a list of vegetables and ingredients I would need for certain recipes that seemed very appealing and now I find myself with a two page list of very random ingredients. Does anyone have any advice for a confused vegetarian just starting off?

Sorry if there are about 3248902323 threads similiar to this one. I decided to just cater to my specific problem, though  :-\

Hello! Welcome to vegetarianism :)

My advice is to do a lot of reading. There's lots of websites with recipes, nutritional information, etc, but there's also some organisations that will mail a starter kit booklet to your house.

If you happen to be in North America, you're in luck because I have a link handy with links to places where you can order free vegetarian/vegan starter kits: http://www.veganpeace.com/links/vegan_starting_kits.htm

If you get the PETA kit, I've personally tried their lasagna recipe and their chocolate pudding recipe, and they're both really good!

If you're Australian, you can get a free starter kit from here: http://www.alv.org.au/storyarchive/0507vegstarterkit/index.asp

If you're in the UK: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/campaign/vegan/freepack.htm

Germany: http://www.peta.de/kampagnen/vegetarismus/vegstarter_g.html

I don't know offhand of any other kits, so if you happen to live in a country not covered here, you'll have to google animal rights groups where you are to see if they have any free literature. At the very least, PETA seems to mail their kit to a bunch of places: http://www.peta.org.uk/feat/UKvegkit/

Good luck with your new lifestyle :)

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howdy!  ;D

it might help to take things with the recipes one step at a time. since you are new, there is a lot of stuff to learn and discover, but it doesn't mean you need to learn it all overnight! i would start with a couple recipes that look good and are easy to follow and then keep adding to both your pantry and knowledge as you cook more and more stuff. that's kinda what i did...i have been doing veg for a bit now and just started making seitan about 6 weeks ago...there is always something new to discover!

also, are you new to cooking also? you say school is out so i take it you're maybe younger (foot goes into mouth? we'll see) cause that can be a pretty daunting thing to learn also... i remember when i first started cooking and how ... well... i couldn't. that was another big thing that pushed me into veganism....can't mess the veggies up!

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To the first reply, thanks it never occured to me to go to sites for free packages like that. I live in Canada, so it should be easy to find sites and organizations such as PETA, to help me out.

To the second reply, I am almost 17 years old, so yes I am young but cooking isn't relatively new to me. I took cooking classes for two years and I don't really have trouble with it. I love cooking new things so this should be fun!

Thanks a lot for the replies, I appreciate it.

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Being a vegetarian is sooo much easier than it seems. Books, articles, and cookbooks just make it complicated.

To put it simply, there are basic core dishes...Soup, rice, pasta, cous cous. You decide which one sounds good. Then, you pick your veggies. Any veggies you like. Chop them, sautee them, steam them, I like frozen veggies, you just have to thaw them in your dish. Next, protein. Beans, or tofu if you like. A lot of new vegetarians are slow to like tofu. Start by chopping it up really small, you won't notice it. Next, flavoring. Experiment with sauces or spices. I usually just do minced garlic and ground black pepper, but try whatever you have.

Some other tips:
Cans are your friends. Canned beans are so easy to grab and throw into any dish.

Canned diced tomatoes go with anything. Anything. The organic brands are excellent.

Whole wheat pasta and cous cous, and brown rice are much better for you, and give you more energy.

Just use what you have and what you like. It keeps you in your comfort zone and trying new things won't seem so hard.

If you ever have any questions about vegetarian food, let me know.

Good luck!

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You should try just one or two recipes at first, so that you don't go to the store and feel overwhelmed.

But I look at it this way, if it can be made with meat, I can find a way to make it veggie. There are so many different substitutes out there, not to mention just plain tofu and tempeh.  I watch cooking shows all the time, which very rarely have vegetarian food, and have adapted many of the recipes that sound good to me with fake meats.

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Hi there,

cooking vegan isn't really that hard, especially when you already have cooking experience.

I've been vegetarian for half a year and vegan for three months (quick transition  ;D) and I make a rough plan about what to cook in a week (I live on my own, though).
Most things I do work the same way, like a lot of lentil/bean soups and about a billion variations of pasta sauces and veggie stews. Once you figured out the basics, it is pretty easy to modify recipes.

Another thing I do is trying at least one new dish and one new vegetable a week (there are so many I didn't even know that they existed a year ago).

Since I'm also pretty new, you can contact me if you've got questions.

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You definatly have the right idea asking for help.. I went unhealthy and boring for a long time. Make sure you have variety, because for a long time I had a couple meals I rotated all the time and it just got kind of annoying. I find just looking at recipies helps me think of ideas or my own variations. You may want to invest in a couple cookbooks. You could also try some frozen food on occasion if you want a quick meal.

Once you're at it for a while you'll find you're eating better than before you decided to cut meat. By the way, make sure you avoid cheeses with non-vegetable enzymes (http://cheese.joyousliving.com is a list of okay brands) and gelatin. Good luck with your new lifestyle, its totally worth it, and kind of fun too. :) If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

By the way, here's a list of vegetarian/vegan fastfood options! http://www.vegetarian-restaurants.net/OtherInfo/FastFoodRest.htm

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You wrote that you made a list of ingredients after reading
recipes. Nothing wrong with that, really, but I think it's easier going the other way around.

Simply start by making a list of everything YOU like. it may be a long list, or just two or three things: quantity  doesn't matter.
Then make sure that you always, no matter how tired or ill you may be, have at least four or five of your fave things around the house.
when you know what you like, it's easier to find recipes that appeals to you. Par example, I love avocado. Making a complicated dish with avocado just makes it a bit more fun/less hard, because I know that I'll like to eat it.

Also, vegetarian recipes might seem complex in the beginning, but mostly that's only because it's a whole new way of cooking. Once you've learned how to treat your veggies, you wont even think about if it seems complicated in a recipe or not. it's all about habit.

So keep up the good work, and remember to treat yourself to a falafel once in a while.

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Pick 2 or 3 recipes that have some similar ingrdients, so that you're not spending tons of money on ingredients that you won't use all of.
Start slowly.  Check out a lot of recipes from cookbooks at the library. 
Find a good vegetable stock that you like, and stock up on canned beans (these are two of the most basic ingredients you will need).  Also, brown rice, couscous, and asian type noodles are great to have on hand-- you'll need those too).
Have fun with it-- keep it as easy as you need to so that it doesn't become a chore. 
Good luck-- have fun.

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hey!
i definately agree with the other repliers in this discussion when they say that a lot of recipes just make vegetarianism so complex and it really doesnt need to be. i'm not a lot older than you and i've been a vegetarian for about 10 years so maybe i'm just used to it?
i think the best idea is to think of your favourite meat dishes and just adjust them to use either vegies or meat substitutes.
on the subject of meat subs its a good idea to try some of these and see what you like. i for one can not stand tofu and get sick of so many vegetarian recipes using it. on the other hand i LOVE LOVE LOVE falafel.
one great thing about vegetarianism is that it forces you to explore international cuisines. middle eastern food and Indian food is often vegetarian for cultural reasons ie. Muslims dont eat pork, ham etc or non-halal meat (sorry to any Muslims if i didnt use the right terminology there) and cows are sacred to many Indians. if you go to resteraunts for those they usually have lots of vego options and you'll get to know what you like.
the only thing you need to really worry about is nutritional content. my apologies to all the vegans out there but cheese and yogurt are great as well as pasta and bread. If you go shopping, they really do cater well for alternative diets, even in general supermarkets.
just experiment really, dont fret too much about being creative or anything.

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