Has someone in your life recently adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet? Are you trying to entertain a vegetarian or vegan friend or family member? Trying to figure out how to cook meatless meals doesn’t have to be a huge stress. Become familiar with reading labels for animal ingredients and what to use as substitutes for meat.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are similar, as they both exclude meat products. A vegetarian diet does not contain meat and poultry, and depending on the person, may or may not contain eggs, dairy, and fish. A vegan diet excludes ALL animal products, including the above, but also gelatin and honey.
There are many reasons why someone would choose this eating pattern for themselves or their family. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce risk of chronic diseases, are more environmentally sustainable, and may be in line with their ethical beliefs.
Luckily, there are many grocery staples that can replace animal products in your traditional dishes. Remember the ‘alternatives’ part of the meat and alternatives food group in Canada’s Food Guide? This is a great place to start!
Nuts, seeds and their butters can be used to make sauces, and added to salads and smoothies. Soy is a plant-based protein that is used to substitute meat in many recipes. Pulses, which include beans, chickpeas, lentils and split peas are all vegan sources of protein that can be used as meat substitutes. Edamame, the whole, immature green soybean can be eaten in the shell or shell removed. Both of these can be found in the frozen vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Pulses and soy products including edamame, tofu, and textured vegetable protein can be added to casseroles, soups, chili, salads and stir fry instead of meat.
Soy is usually the main component of vegan alternatives to cheese, butter and mayonnaise. Vegetarian processed “meats” are available to use for deli slices, hot dogs, sausages and burgers. These are great for entertaining at a summer BBQ or birthday party, but should be limited the same as regular processed meats due to their high sodium content and many fillers.
Animal products turn up in unexpected places, including salad dressing, sauces, and packaged foods. When reading labels, watch out for ‘modified milk ingredients’ or casein, gelatin, stock or bouillon originating from chicken or beef. Even some vegetarian products like burgers and meatballs may not be vegan as they could contain milk or cheese. If you don’t know, ask your guest! Most people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are used to reading labels for these sneaky additives.
Natasha Beatson is a registered dietitian with Collingwood Loblaw. She is part of a network of more than 70 dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours, group workshops and recipe ideas at locations across the country.
Natasha Beatson, RD In-Store Dietitian, Health & Wellness
LSL Collingwood Market 12 Hurontario Street, Collingwood ON L9Y 2L6
Zehrs Owen Sound 1150 16th Street East, Owen Sound ON N4K 1Z3
T: 519-270-1501 | E : firstname.lastname@example.org
Doing meatless Monday? Try this tasty stir-fry which has 14g of protein per serving thanks to tempeh strips made with fermented soy beans.
Chili Garlic Green Bean and Tempeh Stir-Fry
1½ cups (375 mL) jasmine rice, rinsed
2 tbsp (25 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lime juice
2 tbsp (25 mL) soy sauce
3 tbsp (45 mL) sunflower oil
1 pkg (198 g) PC Blue Menu Tempeh
1 sweet red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Thai bird’s-eye peppers, seeded and minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced peeled fresh ginger
1 lb (450 g) green beans, trimmed and halved diagonally
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh cilantro
3 tbsp (45 mL) unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Combine rice and 2 cups water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all water is absorbed, about 11 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce and 1/4 cup water in small bowl until brown sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large nonstick skillet or wok with tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add tempeh; cook, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Cut or break each piece in half crosswise. Set aside.
4. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and carrot; cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, Thai peppers, shallot and ginger; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
5. Add beans and salt; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add brown sugar mixture. Cover with lid; cook, stirring once, 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover; cook until beans are tender and liquid is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tempeh; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
6. Divide rice and tempeh mixture among serving bowls. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 380 calories, fat 13 g (2 g of which is saturated), sodium 570 mg, carbohydrate 54 g, fibre 7 g, protein 14 g
Recipe source: pc.ca/insiders
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