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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

What will you eat while you're a weekday vegetarian?

Fresh vegetarian pasta

Credit: Lachlan Hardy on Flickr under Creative Commons

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So, step one in becoming a weekday vegetarian is to work out what you’re going to eat now that you’ve ruled out a common source of food. We’ve got three regular meals to deal with, unless you’ve been snacking on pork rinds in-between meals!

Breakfast is pretty easy. Most people aren’t having a full cooked breakfast with bacon or sausages on weekdays. There’s a good chance you won’t have to change anything here at all. I’m a confirmed Milo addict, and frequently have cereal or toast, so no problems there for me.

Lunch is a little more tricky, however for pretty much every meal you like there's usually a vegetarian alternative. If you have homemade sandwiches like I do, sliced meat is a common ingredient. You can replace it with cheese, egg, falafel, or chargrilled vegies. If you go out to buy lunch, you’ll have a few more options: most delis will make you a delicious range of meat-free sandwiches, sushi places have vegetarian rolls, or you can often get really tasty mixed salads or pasta. You won’t be able to get a meat pie or a sausage roll (though there are vegie versions of these too) but think of this as your chance to improve your health by avoiding them.

Dinner is time to really get creative with vegies. The first thing to do is look at your regular recipes and see if any of them are meat-free. Lots of pasta recipes are vegetable-only in their sauces, and stir-fries don’t have to have meat in them at all.

But you’ll still need a source of new ideas so you don’t run out of options - there’s nothing more dreary than eating the same thing every night when you could be exploring new tastes. I’m a big fan of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian book. Unlike many other vegetarian recipe books, it’s written by someone who still eats meat and so isn’t going to force you to learn to love tofu or weird grains you can’t buy at the supermarket. He just wants you to be able to learn what the alternatives to meat are, and has lots of really great ideas for quick and easy meals.

Another really excellent source is the Taste.com.au website - they have an enormous vegetarian recipe collection. Curries, salads, pasta, pizza, they’ve got 103 pages of things for you to try. My favourites are the vegetable korma (I make it with homegrown pumpkin) and the vegetable frittata, which is great with salad and keeps well for leftovers. Meanwhile the G girls love to nick ideas from vegetarian blog, Veggie Num Num, which has an endless supply of creative and unique recipes.

So grab a cuppa and have a think about how you’re going to approach this. Get out your favourite recipe books to see what you can find, and have a poke around online for more tasty ideas. Most importantly, enjoy trying new ways to eat!