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Topic: Another beginning veggie, some quick questions  (Read 1343 times)
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PinFish
« on: May 25, 2007 08:27:51 PM »

Hey everyone, I've recently decided to go vegetarian (possibly pescatarian, but probably full veggie) and I have a few questions (and am looking for support wherever I can get it ^^; ).

1. Where do you all get your iron? Just broccoli and spinach? Enriched foods? Supplements? I've always had a problem with getting iron-deficient so it's something I have to be pretty careful about. Any tips?

2. What's the best (and preferrably cheapest) meat-replacements? Like fake chicken or hot dogs. I know I like Morningstar Farms burgers a lot, but I don't know about other meats.

3. Any quick snack tips? I get hungry a lot, so far anyway. I'm used to huge meaty (literally) portions, have to get used to huge veggie portions, haha.

4. Did any of you really like meat before? I LOVED it but have always sort of wanted to become vegetarian for ethical and health reasons, and when I decided to try vegetarianism I was intending to go gradually and still eat poultry/seafood for a while but suddenly ALL meat looks gross and I don't want it at all. It's like I had an inner vegetarian who just needed the opportunity to come out!

5. Any other useful tips to a (poor >< very, very poor) beginning vegetarian? Quick, CHEAP meal options for two people, one of whom is not veggie (my fiance who is being wonderful about this and doesn't mind at all and even said he's fine with only eating vegetarian at home and getting meat when we go out)? Any general tips?

Thanks so much! I'm excited about this, but I feel a little guilty coz I'm worried I'm making things hard for my friends and family. Though, it's totally a personal choice so if they are upset it shouldn't phase me, but still...  I need some support here!
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violentlyknits
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2007 07:20:30 AM »

right. I'll try to give you some answers from my point of wiew:

1. I've never had any problems with iron, but a trick is to eat vitamin C with your "irony" food, cause that helps the body take up the iron much better.  maybe a spinachsalad with lemon sprinkled on top, or rosehip-soup with an orange.

2. not sure how the market for fake meat looks where you live, but a lot of the time the meat substitutes are very expensive. the cheapest is to make it yourself. beanburgers are easy to make, packed with protein and really cheap.
tofu is another great substitute once you get used to it.

3. I get hungry a lot too and eat huge portions too. I eat a lot of sandwishes in between meals. Make some bean dip or something (hommous and baba ganouche is fairly cheap to buy and really delicious) and put loads on a wholegrain sandwich and put some cucumber or salad on top. yum.

4. I loved meat, and I still do. but the ethical reasons weigh over and I've been vegan now for four years.

5. my best tip is to be patient. veg*n cooking is really fun. It "forces" you to broaden your horizon and try new recipes and ingredients. becoming vegan made me love cooking (I didn't like it that much before.) suddenly there was no rules how the food should taste. I mean, meatballs are supposed to taste like meatballs have always tasted, but if you make beanballs instead there are no ancient recipes that has been inherited for centuries. you can just experiment and see how it turns out.

right now I'm experimenting with vegan sausages. as soon as I get it right I will post the recipe.

good luck with everything!
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spaghetti
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2007 09:41:27 AM »

Apologies in advance...this is going to be a long post.
1. Where do you all get your iron? Just broccoli and spinach? Enriched foods? Supplements? I've always had a problem with getting iron-deficient so it's something I have to be pretty careful about. Any tips?
I try and eat iron-fortified cereal a few times a week, and there's a decent amount of iron in beans.  And violentlyknits is right -- iron is absorbed better with vitamin C.  So I'll try and have sliced strawberries or a glass of OJ with my cereal, and chili has iron from beans and vitamin C from tomatoes.  And just FYI, spinach is a bit controversial: it contains oxalic acid, which some people think binds to the iron and keeps your body from absorbing it.  You may want to consider a supplement if you tend to be iron-deficient, but supplements can upset your stomach so a lot of people don't like taking them.
2. What's the best (and preferrably cheapest) meat-replacements? Like fake chicken or hot dogs. I know I like Morningstar Farms burgers a lot, but I don't know about other meats.
I don't know if there are any cheap commercial meat-replacements.  I like vegan Boca burgers, and I'll occasionally eat veggie bologna or hot dogs, but that's about it.  You can make seitan ("wheat meat") or buy tempeh, but they tend to be acquired tastes.

3. Any quick snack tips? I get hungry a lot, so far anyway. I'm used to huge meaty (literally) portions, have to get used to huge veggie portions, haha.
At least for me, I went from eating three large meals to snacking all day.  I usually eat once about every 3 to 4 hours.  Soups are great, salads, and dips like violentlyknits suggested.  I eat a lot of fruit and chopped vegetables, and try to have a few protein bars, granola bars, or trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, etc.) around for snacking.

4. Did any of you really like meat before? I LOVED it but have always sort of wanted to become vegetarian for ethical and health reasons, and when I decided to try vegetarianism I was intending to go gradually and still eat poultry/seafood for a while but suddenly ALL meat looks gross and I don't want it at all. It's like I had an inner vegetarian who just needed the opportunity to come out!

I never really loved meat, but it was still tough to give it up.  It's cool that you were able to give up all meat at once; I did it gradually and it was kind of confusing to everyone else..."Oh, you eat this, but not this, or this...and I forgot, was this OK?"  And don't beat yourself up too much if you make mistakes (there are a lot of "hidden" animal products in things) or if you just can't resist Grandma's famous pie with the lard crust Wink

5. Any other useful tips to a (poor >< very, very poor) beginning vegetarian? Quick, CHEAP meal options for two people, one of whom is not veggie (my fiance who is being wonderful about this and doesn't mind at all and even said he's fine with only eating vegetarian at home and getting meat when we go out)? Any general tips?
General tips...hmm.  Fresh veggies in the summer (they're supercheap), frozen the rest of the year.  (Frozen keeps better too...)  Lots of pasta, and I should own stock in a company that makes canned beans Smiley  You've probably got stuff already that's vegetarian...I read an article ages ago about transitioning to vegetarianism that put foods into 3 categories: stuff that's already vegetarian (e.g. cheese pizza), stuff that could easily be made vegetarian (e.g. tacos with beans instead of beef), and new stuff to try (e.g tofu Smiley).  And search out your local ethnic markets (if you have them); I love the Japanese grocery store. 
Thanks so much! I'm excited about this, but I feel a little guilty coz I'm worried I'm making things hard for my friends and family. Though, it's totally a personal choice so if they are upset it shouldn't phase me, but still...  I need some support here!
You are definitely making a great choice -- it's not always easy but I'm sure that you'll do wonderfully.  There are tons of resources out there and you've always got us.  Best!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2007 09:53:39 AM by spaghetti » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Vegetarian yarnivore
heini
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2007 11:50:42 AM »

1. Where do you all get your iron? Just broccoli and spinach? Enriched foods? Supplements? I've always had a problem with getting iron-deficient so it's something I have to be pretty careful about. Any tips?
I had problems with iron when I ate meat, as vegetarian my hemoglobin level has always been good. Meat isn't so great source of iron, and neither is spinach. For example: 100g cow's meat has 2,5mg iron, spinach 1,3mg, dried lentils 11,1mg, nettle 4,4mg and rye bread 2,8-3,7mg (depending on how much rye and how much other flour has been used).
5. Any other useful tips to a (poor >< very, very poor) beginning vegetarian? Quick, CHEAP meal options for two people, one of whom is not veggie (my fiance who is being wonderful about this and doesn't mind at all and even said he's fine with only eating vegetarian at home and getting meat when we go out)? Any general tips?
Pasta with sauce, rice/barley/couscous with stir fried veggies (add some tofu or beans),  veggieloaf or -balls with potatoes.
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sin esperanza
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2007 09:30:45 PM »

Hey Pinfish,

Here's my two cents worth.

1) Try and make sure that there are pulses in at least one meal a day, a lot of beans and pulses (dhals!) are high iron.  Also silverbeet is higher in iron than spinach.  one good way of having vitamin c with iron is to put a healthy amount of lemon juice on your salads!  Also, are you going dairy free?  coz the other thing to be careful of is going low on vitamin b12... so eat some yoghurt each week!

2) i'm in nz so not sure about brands but go to an indian/asian store for really cheap soy meat.  makes a great substitute for meat and is a lot cheaper!

3) quick snack tips: i eat a lot of rice cracers with hummus, and museli bars.... one thing, if you eat oats, wholegrains, nuts (brazil nuts are my favourite), or other things with low GI they'll give you more energy and make you less constantly hungry though I still eat heaps!). 

4) i've been veggie all but one year of my life... but i loved seafood and i still do!  don't feel bad about it!!  i think you're making a great choice and it will get easier... the more you get in the habit of things the less strange they'll seem!!

5) always have a good breakfast!  You're really sweet to be concerned about putting your family out... they will get used to it... especially once they realise there are so many yummy things that don't have to have meat!  i'd suggest getting a good recipe book and one on asian/indian food if you're into it.  i'm indian and there is just so much food that you can make that is veggie and yummy!!  oh and one last tip... try tofu and tempeh.... they're great.!
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PinFish
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2007 07:44:12 AM »

Thanks so much for all the responses, guys! This is all great advice and is already helping me Smiley
We just took our first all-vegetarian grocery shopping trip and it was so much fun! I looked at our cart as we were checking out and I felt really great about what we were getting... that's never really happened before! We got some tofu and a TON of fruits and veggies, and some protein bars. It's really exciting  Grin

Also, my fiance is considering going vegetarian too! We went to a barbeque yesterday (blech, though I did get some nummy grilled corn and some really juicy watermelon) and he had a burger and part of a steak because his dad just sort of handed them to him, but he just sat there picking at them and he turned to me and said "I think I want to be vegetarian too... this is gross."  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

It was embarrassing though- at the barbeque, when they all found out I was vegetarian they were like "good for you, that's cool" but then someone asked me how long I'd been vegetarian, and I had to be honest and say "not long, only about a week" and they all laughed at me and tried to get me to eat meat! Then some woman came up and tried to convince me to go on the Atkins diet of all things, because she apparently lost weight on it... I'm not that heavy, only about 40 lbs overweight. I thought that was so rude, I just wanted to say "Oh, that's nice, had your cholesterol checked lately? Because Dr. Atkins DIED OF A HEART ATTACK YOU STUPID WOMAN."
I swear. Some people.
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nirvanagrl
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2007 07:46:50 AM »

"Oh, that's nice, had your cholesterol checked lately? Because Dr. Atkins DIED OF A HEART ATTACK YOU STUPID WOMAN."
I swear. Some people.

Okay i seriously nearly feel out of my chair laughing. You should have said it!!!
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sin esperanza
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2007 05:35:30 PM »

Ditto!  Grrr... some people are so stoooopid.  Hate it when people think being vegetarian is about how you look eh?  I was in Italy for a bit and people would keep saying "but why, you're so beautiful and womanly" as if I was vegetarian because I hated my body... I'm vegetarian coz I hate the meat industry not my body (i thought but like you did not say!).  aaaargh!
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Altered Fairy Tales Swap
GhostAcademy
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2007 09:00:34 PM »

I think one of the misconceptions about vegetarians is that they eat crazy, weird foods.  If you're vegetarian, you eat what other people do, but without the meat.  If there are certain pasta dishes or salads or soups or whatever that you already like to eat, you can make veggie versions of them.  Also, I don't know how common this is, but I find that I don't need to worry too much about watching my diet and replacing certain nutrients that I'd get with meat.  My body seems to naturally crave what I need.  And whenever I've had a check-up with blood work done, I'm right on the mark with everything.  Doctors always seem convinced I'm going to be iron deficient, but I never am.

1.  What everyone else said about iron I agree with, but if you're concerned, you should just take a multivitamin for peace of mind.  Of course, quality multivitamins are expensive, but you'll be saving money on meat  Wink

2.  I'm not a fan of meat replacement foods in general, but I do like tofu pups.  They seem to run about $3.50 for a 6 pack.

3.  You can snack on anything you already like to snack on!  Like crackers or whatever.  Some more satisfying mini-meal snacks I can recommend are edamame and wheat pitas with tomatoes and melted cheese.  Both are good for protein too!

4.  I have never liked meat.  My husband's a vegetarian and loved meat and one day just got disgusted with it and never wanted it again.  I think once you stop eating it and it's not normal to you anymore it starts to seem really gross and weird.

5.  One of my big things is not to get too stressed out about protein.  Bread has tons of protein.  Pasta does too.  Bagels have like 9 grams each.  Some vegetables (like peas) have protein too.
If you're trying to cook on the cheap, you might want to make big portions of soups with lentils or beans that you can keep eating as leftovers.  Of course, craftster is a great source for easy recipes too.  Also, I can't recommend enough the book Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin.  It's full of really delicious, easy recipes.  And they're all pretty standard (not weird) foods, so your boyfriend should dig them too.

Good luck! 
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icantotallymakethat
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2007 08:09:36 AM »

5. Any other useful tips to a (poor >< very, very poor) beginning vegetarian? Quick, CHEAP meal options for two people, one of whom is not veggie (my fiance who is being wonderful about this and doesn't mind at all and even said he's fine with only eating vegetarian at home and getting meat when we go out)? Any general tips?

I went through a period of time when I was really, really poor, but I didn't have too many problems being able to eat good vegetarian food. I figured out that very simple food with very common ingredients is so cheap. Here are a few ideas:

-For breakfast, I used to just buy a large amount of quick-cooking oats (either in bulk or one of those big canisters with the pilgrim-looking dude on them), a jar of peanut butter, and either some honey or some frozen berries. Then all you have to do for your breakfast is boil some water, put the right amount of oats in your bowl (1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on how hungry you are), add a tablespoon of peanut butter and either the honey or berries, then pour enough boiling water over the whole thing to get the consistency you like. This is so cheap and fast, and it's really good. I have never bought those little packets of instant oatmeal again--too sugary and too expensive!

-For lunches and dinners, just think of the cheapest, most basic ingredients, then think of what you can make out of them. Beans, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, pasta, and canned tomatoes are usually really cheap year-round. You can make a huge variety of soups and stews out of these ingredients by varying the proportions, using different kinds of beans, and adding different kinds of seasonings. If you use canned beans, it is so quick and easy to make soup. Dried beans are cheaper but are more of a hassle. And you can round out the meal either with bread or with rice, which is also really cheap.

Another good way of saving money is to realize that you don't have to use meat substitutes, since those tend to be expensive. Many people find that when they become vegetarian, they learn to design their meals in a really different way. I usually have a main dish and either rice or bread to go with it, rather than the traditional meat+potatoes+side veggie meal design. You might want to invest in a couple good cookbooks to help with this. I use Lorna Sass's Shortcut Vegetarian cookbook often, as well as Sarah Kramer's cookbooks (The Garden of Vegan etc.).

Good luck!
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