Vegetarians have heard it all before. It starts with a simple “Oh, you’re vegetarian?” and for a few seconds it seems like maybe that’ll be the end of it. The meat eater will look at you, smile, and say “cool” or “ok” and then move along. Sadly, however, that isn’t normally the case. The questions come quickly and unashamedly.
The list goes on and on. Little do they know though, that with the right vegetable recipes, even meat eaters can fall in love with vegetarian cooking. Next time you want to challenge the carnivores in your life to a cook off, try some of these tips to show them that vegetarian dinner recipes don’t have to be bland and boring. In fact, they might just start trying to steal your food next time they see you!
Stick to what they know
The easiest way to convince a meat eater that vegetarian dishes really aren’t all that bad is to keep things familiar to them. With that in mind, take classic simple recipes and give them a twist. Obvious ones are lasagne, curry, stew, pasta, and even the humble sandwich.
Why not just throw them in the deep end with some hard-core veggie meals? Well, your aim is to prove how delicious vegetarian food is to somebody who is already doubtful, so make it easier on yourself! It isn’t too much of a stretch for your average person who eats meat to think about trying a vegetarian curry, for instance, but they might be a bit more strongly opposed to a zucchini and beetroot fritter. Baby steps are the way forward!
Use “meat-like” fillers such as lentils or beans if necessary to get a thicker texture. This works particularly well in casseroles and stews, and beans are great in chilli, wraps, salads or any Mexican-style dishes. They’re also a great source of protein so if you’re not already using them in your veggie-friendly dishes, now would be a good time to start!
Always cook for maximum flavour
One thing about vegetarian food is that it is harder to get away with being lazy and cooking the standard “meat and two veg” meals. Instead, most vegetarians are used to being creative with flavours, ingredients, and textures. Definitely use this to your advantage when cooking for your non-vegetarian friends.
Sishebo, for instance, is all about the flavour. Regardless of whether you have chicken, beef or vegetables in yours, they are there to improve and carry the flavour. So be bold with your spices, cook the sauce for some time to let the flavours blend together, and season it until it really is delicious. One thing that will turn meat eaters off vegetarian food quicker than you can blink is watery, flavourless meals – and who can blame them?!
In whatever dish you’re making, be sure to choose the vegetables carefully and maximise their flavours. Let onions sweat until they go soft and slightly sweet, serve broccoli while it’s still al dente so you don’t lose the flavour and texture, or roast pumpkin along with cumin, nutmeg or even cinnamon to really bring out the natural flavour. Remember, vegetables are the heroes of your dish, so treat them carefully and you won’t go wrong!