For those of us who were brought up by our parents to eat meat, it can be difficult to imagine enjoying a dinner of 'meat and three veg' minus the meat! But the truth is, vegetarian cuisine opens up a whole new world of exciting ingredients, tastes and flavours. Many people report losing excess weight, and having more vitality and energy as added advantages of making the switch. And the best news is, it's easy!

Lettuce eater

What to Eat?

Don't worry—it's not about being a lettuce muncher! Vegetarians enjoy a diverse variety of cuisine—just visit your local vegetarian restaurant for proof! In fact—many typically meat-based dishes can easily be adapted for vegetarian meals such as burritos, spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, cheeseburgers ... even ‘meatloaf’!

Kick the meat habit

Kicking the Meat Habit

Some people kick the meat habit cold 'turkey'. Others need time to make the transition. Find what is right for you. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  1. Start with one animal, and take them out of your diet (try starting with chickens, or pigs—some of the most abused animals raised for meat). Substitute with vegetarian alternatives such as tempeh, tofu, or mock meats. Continue removing different animals until you have adopted an entirely animal-free diet.
  2. Pick one day each week to eat only vegetarian meals. Increase the number of meat-free days each week over time.
  3. Start with your favourite dish, and adjust the recipe to make it vegetarian. With many meat-free substitutes available, this should be easy. Work your way through your culinary repertoire until all your meals are vegetarian.
  4. Switch to vegetarianism with a friend! Sharing the experience can be fun and you will have someone to share recipes with.

While a varied and balanced vegetarian diet will contain all the necessary nutrients for good health (including ample protein and iron), some people may still need help shaking the meat addiction. Fortunately there are an increasing number of 'mock meats' available with a taste and texture remarkably like the 'real' thing, but without the saturated animal fats, heart-clogging cholesterol and cruelty. You'll find a variety of veggie sausages at your supermarket, as well as luncheon, veggie mince, meatless schnitzel and more. Visit your health food store or Chinese supermarket for an even larger range of meat alternatives.

What are you trying to kick?
Mince Meat: Try veggie mince, sometimes called TVP (or Textured Vegetable Protein). This can be found dehydrated at most supermarkets and health food stores, and when used in meals such as spaghetti bolognaise, will fool even a die-hard meat eater.
Meat Patties: 'Meaty' vegetarian burgers can often be found in the freezer section in supermarkets and health food stored - such as the brands Fry's and Bounty Burgers. You can also try lentil patties, which taste great baked or fried.
Sausages: Most supermarkets stock a variety of vegetarian sausages in their cold section. These are great for barbeques and hotdogs, and will fool most meat eaters. 'BBQ', 'frankfurter' and other varieties are commonly available.
Schnitzel: Try Fry's Golden Crumbed Schnitzel, found in the freezer section at some supermarkets and most good health food stores.
Bacon: Pig-friendly veggie rashers can be found at leading supermarkets and health food stores. Redwood make a variety of mock meats including convincing 'bacon' rashers. Many standard varieties of dried 'bacon bits' are actually made with soy protein and are in fact vegetarian.
Ham &
Cold Cuts:
Mock-ham slices, and varieties of meat-free luncheon are available at most supermarkets and health food stores.
Fish & Seafood: Chinese supermarkets stock a convincing variety of 100% vegetarian 'fish' products (including prawns and even 'eel'). Or, try adding seaweed to dishes to give them a 'fishy' flavour.
Cheese: Most supermarkets and health food stores will stock a variety of dairy-free cheeses. Try Tofutti 'Better than Cream Cheese', or Redwood's 'Cheezely' (which includes melting varieties).
Eggs: Powdered egg substitutes are available at some supermarkets and most health food stores. They can be used in baking to yield the same results as chicken's eggs—and are generally more economical and have a longer shelf-life. Look out of 'Egg-like' or 'No Egg'. For a hot breakfast, try a tofu scramble.
Milk: There are many readily available substitutes to cow's milk available at your supermarket. These products are high in calcium and are often fortified with other valuable nutrients. Soy milks can vary from brand to brand, so try to find one that suits you, or try rice milk or oat milk, also available at supermarkets.
Other Dairy
You will find a variety of brands of delicious soy yoghurts (such as Kingland) at your supermarket. Soy ice cream is also common. Some stores will also stock non-dairy sour cream and other products.

Eating out

Eating Out

Most restaurants have vegetarian options on their menus. In particular, Indian and other Asian restaurants usually have a diverse selection of vegetarian dishes. Chefs are often happy to modify or prepare special vegetarian dishes on request.

If you are invited to a dinner party, it is best to remind the host in advance that you are vegetarian, and offer some suggestions for vegetarian dishes that can be enjoyed by all. Better yet—offer to prepare and bring along your own dish to share with guests, and show by example how diverse and delicious vegetarian cooking can be. You may even be asked for the recipe, so be prepared! is an initative of Animals Australia, Australia’s most dynamic national animal protection organisation. More »