I am the only vegetarian I know! I am 50 years old and live with my daughter, her husband and my significant other.
When we eat family meals, they cook for them and I eat the vegetables. When I cook I make vegetarian meals.
I also eat at work every day and end up eating junk for lack of ideas. I am exasperated. I eat a lot of pre-made soy products also. Any ideas would be great. Thanks - M. J.
Dear M. J.,
The veg-nonveg report was written for vegetarians like yourself.
And it's great that you live with people who do some cooking! I know what it's like to be all used up when you get home from work, and not have the energy to feed yourself. So spend a couple of hours on the weekend setting up vegetarian meals for the week.
1. Once a week you could cook vegetarian meals like grain, (e.g. rice, cracked wheat, quinoa, noodles) or bean dishes, soup or stew, to freeze in individual serving sizes that you can reheat for dinner or take to work.
2. Keep on hand some healthy but instant vegetarian foods, like baked tofu, ricotta or feta cheese, yogurt, nuts, hummus, refried beans, canned beans (like garbanzos), whole grain tortillas or breads that you can use to fill out the evening meal for yourself. If you eat eggs, it's easy to scramble a couple, or some crumbled tofu (add a sprinkle of braggs or soy sauce, maybe a bit of curry powder or herbs) and stuff them in a tortilla with the veggies. Or use hummus or refried beans.
3. Buy high quality salad ingredients and dressings (or mix up lemon and olive oil and herbs) - add goodies like walnuts, feta, avocados, beans, olives, tahini (to the dressing), sunflower seeds. Add cooked grains or noodles, for vegetarian meals in a bowl, or have a whole grain tortilla with hummus or refried beans.
4. Keep some healthy frozen vegetarian meals on hand to use when there's nothing else to eat. Amy's is a good brand, for example. Couscous is almost instant. And there are lots of almost instant noodles you can make. Read the labels carefully, and avoid those high in fat and soy isolates.
5. Get a crock pot and throw in all the ingredients for one dish vegetarian meals before you leave in the morning, turn it on low, and come home and eat it. Make extra to freeze for another day.
6. Avoid lots of soy products and hard cheese - soy because it's so highly processed, and high calorie, and cheese because of the high saturated fat content.
7. Eat breakfast! It'll keep your blood sugar more even throughout the day, so you don't crave junk food.
8. Stash fresh and dried fruit and nuts, sugar free energy bars, juices, etc at work. If you're getting the nutrients you need in your vegetarian diet, you won't crave sugary snacks.
9. Take a low dose multivitamin - Make sure it has B12, B6, folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, as well as trace minerals. Rainbow Light makes a well balanced one-a-day for women. Here's the nutritional breakdown from Rainbow Light. But you may not want to buy it there! Vitacost has excellent prices on Rainbow Light vitamins and other supplements.
10. There's no reason why your family can't eat a few vegetarian meals a week. Meat eating people in many parts of the world eat a mostly vegetarian diet and don't suffer from it. As you know, it isn't necessary or healthy to have meat at every meal - try to convince them of that. See the SV article The Myth of Protein.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian