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The Return of the Casual Vegetarian


Life + Learning

  • veggie burger

Shaun, Hespeler | August 1, 2017

Not too long ago I shared an Idea based on my experiences with various diet trends, most notably vegetarianism.  Since then, I’ve met quite a few of people interested in what can best be described as ‘Casual Vegetarianism’ which is to say they want to increase the presence of  fruits, vegetables, and grains in their diets and decrease meat, usually red meat.  I’ve compiled a list of thoughts based on my own experiences on how to become a Casual Vegetarian.  These are in no way scientific, but (hopefully) useful anyway:

  1. Vegetarian food is best when it’s not pretending to be meat.  Veggie dogs? Soy cheese? Tofurkey??  No thanks!  The only exception would be veggie burgers, which don’t try to imitate beef anymore, and are often quite flavourful, sometimes more than their bovine counterparts.
  2. Salad - shmalad.  Being vegetarian doesn’t mean eating salad all the time.  I mean, unless you really just want to eat salad all the time.  Far be it from me to judge.. but it does sound kind of awful.
  3. Vegetarian food is cheap.  Sure, you can pay a lot if you want the fancy, prepackaged stuff, but if you stick to simple, non-froofy ingredients like veggies and grains you’ll save a bundle every week. 
  4. Fun fact: wine is vegetarian!  So is beer!  And coffee!
  5. Try ethnic.  Many ethnic foods like Indian, Asian, and Italian are full of flavour, deeply satisfying and completely meat-free.   Curries have always been my favourite.
  6. Don’t forget the fat.  Part of the reason meat is so appealing is that it comes with its own fat.  And in the cooking world fat equals flavour.  Few veggies and grains have a decent amount naturally occurring fat, so be sure to use copious amounts of oil, butter, cream, and, my personal favourite, melted cheese to supplement.  If you are looking for a calorie-reduced diet, you could use less of those ingredients, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  7. Don’t turn your back on the BBQ.  Just because steak and burgers get all the grill glory doesn’t mean veggies can’t get in on the action.  Peppers, zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms all get heavy grill rotation at my place in the summer.  I’ve even tried grilling Romaine lettuce, which was surprisingly good.  If you haven’t tried it yet, I’d highly recommend Halloumi cheese, a mind-blowing grillable cheese that has become a minor obsession of mine.
  8. Be a respectful guest.  Unless the host offers, do not make them cook you separate food.  Unless eating meat is going to make you ill, or has serious ramifications to your religious beliefs, when someone invites you for a meal featuring meat, suck it up, be gracious, and eat the food.  During my vegetarian years, I always made exceptions for holiday dinners.  These events were celebratory, often involving family or community, and usually had one or two hard-working people in charge of feeding everyone.  There was no way I was going to turn my nose up at their hard work.

Do you have any tips or tricks on becoming a Casual Vegetarian?  Let me know in the comments.


Submitted by Mike (not verified) on

Thanks for reminding me to try Halloumi!

Submitted by Shaun (not verified) on

Your welcome! It will change everything you think you know about cheese!