My journey into weekday vegetarianism started completely by accident; my boyfriend decided that he needed eat a balanced diet, and get out of the habit of eating lots of meat based convenience food.

He decided on being a weekday vegetarian, which is exactly as it sounds. No meat during the week. The plan had been to reduce the quantity of meat and use the money saved to buy higher quality meat, so it would be appreciated more, a Saturday burger and a beer being a treat rather than dull routine.

This had been his routine for a couple of years before we got together and I sort of adopted it as well. With one major difference; my mother is vegetarian so I can actually cook interesting vegetarian food. A surprising result being that rather than focussing on the good meat, we began to appreciate the vegetables as a main meal, rather than just garnish. 

When you think of vegetarian food, there’s a fair chance you think of a sad looking salad, mac and cheese or the token ‘veggie’ option on a restaurant menu. I think this is incredibly unfair, especially when you look into how much of the world’s population are vegetarian.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a militant vegetarian (in point of fact, I’m not actually a vegetarian), I just think everyone should explore the delights of vegetable based cuisine from all over the world.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

I’m quite lucky where I live; Glasgow has a plethora of restaurants, bars serving good and cheap food, from all cuisines and nations, plus the delight that is the Christmas street markets, stuffed full of food stalls. Being voted by PETA as ‘Most Vegan/Vegetarian friendly city in the World 2013’ didn’t hurt either.

One thing I’ve discovered living here is that many dishes can be as simple as just not putting meat in it. More often than not, the lack of meat isn’t noticeable or missed. Here are a few suggestions to try if you want to up your vegetable intake, or just fancy a change.

bibimbap1. Bibimbap

 

I love Korean food. Between the unique flavour of Korean hot pepper – not to mention the temperature – and the bright colours, it just draws me in. Similar to other cuisines in the same part of the world, the food of Korea involves side dishes; many side dishes. As a result, there’s a lot of vegetarian items. 

Bibimbap is a delicious rice based dish, considered a staple and favourite in Korean restaurants. It’s served in a “dolsot”, a heavy stone bowl that’s heated so that the ingredients of the bibimbap cook at the table and so that the rice fries in the bottom of it. The slices of numerous vegetables placed on top cook lightly in the heat.

Don’t be put off by the raw egg on top, another joy of the hot bowl is that the egg cooks perfectly, and who doesn’t love a beautifully fried egg on the top of their bibimbap?

I can also thoroughly recommend the site that recipe is from – Maangchi – whether you’re already interested in Korean food or just fancy giving it a go, try there.

2. Ramen

Now, I don’t mean instant ramen, the staple of students the world over. No, I mean proper ramen. A bowl of noodles with piles of vegetables and covered in delicious hot stock. 

ramen-korean-soup

It’s ridiculously easy to make and can essentially be simplified into three steps:

  • Put the noodles in to cook as you stir fry the chopped vegetables.
  • Heat the stock, then drain off the noodles and place in a bowl.
  • When cooked, place veg on top of noodles and ladle over the hot stock. Simple.

Don’t panic, this link gives you a more detailed explanation. As I say when we don’t know what to make for dinner, ramen is always the answer!

3. Risotto

Despite the Italians’ love of pasta, this excellent rice dish can be composed, like most of these recipes, of whatever vegetables you happen to have.

risotto

It’s a true dish of the Mediterranean, usually encompassing tomatoes, onions and peppers, but a simple recipe with minimal ingredients is equally as delicious.

mexican-fajitas-sour-cream6. Fajitas

One of my favourite thrown together meals. I always eat them at home, as it’s entirely possible I’d decorate myself while trying to construct them if I’m out for dinner. One of the reasons I love them is how simple they are to make; if you can chop vegetables and tell when they are cooked, you can make fajitas. They’re also excellent for less formal dinner parties, to inject a bit of fun into the proceedings.

7. Thai Curry

Red, green or yellow, it’s all good. This spicy, creamy curry is deceptive, letting you think it’s not too spicy, and then the flavour explodes.

The taste of the vegetables really enhances the flavour and, unlike the meat being flavoured by the dish, the vegetables do a lot of the work themselves. 

thai-curry-yellow-soup

Making a Thai spice mix isn’t too complicated, but I prefer to use a premade one. Apart from reducing the dishes, I like the spice ratio they use. Each to their own.

I like having a Thai curry with noodles, rather than rice. It might seem like a strange suggestion, but it’s worth it.

The Last Word

I suspect if you go to a restaurant, there’s a fair chance you’ll order sides. Ignoring that fries (chips, deep fried potatoes) are for all intents and purposes vegetables, next time have a look at the other options.

In a Korean restaurant, you will often be served kimchi, spicy cucumber salad, seaweed and/or beansprouts to accompany your meal. You could have dumplings in most Asian style restaurants, bhajis/pakora in an Indian restaurant, or go to a tapas restaurant. Many cultures around the world appreciate vegetables, and not just when they’re processed or deep fried. 

My point is, give it a try. ‘But it doesn’t have any meat in it’  isn’t a good enough excuse not to. I discovered how much I love vegetables by accident, what new foods will you discover?

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 4.20.51 PMAbout the author:

Stephanie Tanner is a freelance writer/blogger based between Glasgow and Greenock, in Scotland. When not writing she can generally be found drinking tea, practicing Taekwon-Do or being used as a cat pillow.

 She can be contacted through Twitter @s_rachel_tanner Or by email [email protected]

 

 

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Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of So Good Blog.

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