Of course, it’s not a new concept in other areas. Many countries do not eat meat—or very little of it—with diets heavily based in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Indeed, these countries tend to have lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other health risks as well. Of course, there’s also the fact that meat simply costs a lot of money. There are plenty of good reasons to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
But where to begin? If you’ve been raised on meat and potatoes—or pork chops and macaroni and cheese, like I was—you might be intimidated by creating nutritious, flavorful meals without meat. That’s why there are so many wonderful vegetarian cookbooks out there to help you out. One such book, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas (the mom of two vegetarian teenagers), is a fantastic place to start.
These recipes aren’t fancy or flashy—you won’t become a vegan gourmet chef by preparing them by any means. Instead, they are practical family-oriented recipes designed for the busy family. They’re also designed to be appetizing to small children, who happen to be picky eaters (or, in my family’s case, picky husbands who don’t like giving up meat!).
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes are all included. You’ll find the same comfort food casserole, chili, and soup that you grew up on—all with healthy updates to fit a vegetarian lifestyle. Dishes like Vegetable Upside Down Casserole and Quick Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili will fill up your family’s tummies on those cold winder nights just as any garden variety beef stew has in the past.
For those interested in a vegan lifestyle, substitutions are also provided for easy reference, as well as ways of cooking soy and whole grain, two foods that many Westerners just aren’t that familiar with. There are 275 recipes in all. Each recipe is accompanied by its nutritional breakdown, which is great when you’re counting calories or trying to hit a protein, calcium, or other nutrient goal. There are also plenty of substitutions and variations suggested to help keep things interesting and flavorful.