What do vegetarians eat?
Becoming veg is easy, especially with a bit of help from your friends at the Toronto Vegetarian Association. Many people are interested eating foods that are healthy, sustainable and cruelty-free, “but what do vegetarians eat?” they ask. For beginners, here are several ways to get a satisfying vegetarian meal, listed from easiest to more involved. See our Eat Veg section for more ideas.
Restaurants – Treat yourself to a night out. See our long list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area. Ethnic restaurants, especially Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Mexican, are usually a good choice, as they offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
Fast food – Grab a quick bite on the go. Most chains offer a vegetarian meal. Choose from: tacos, veggie burgers, baked potatoes, pasta, falafel, salads and more. Vegans can order pizza without the cheese but loaded with vegetable toppings, like peppers, mushrooms, olives and artichokes. See our Fast Food Report.
Heat-and-serveThe Vegetarian Directory has a list of meal delivery services in the Toronto Area, and most restaurants do take-out or delivery.
Supermarkets and natural food stores Toronto Area list usually carry quick vegetarian meal items. Choose from: savoury pies, seasoned tofu, veggie burgers, chili, a wide range of soups, and more.
Veggie convenience products
Build a meal around any of the following items. You can add your own veggies, rice, noodles, cooked grain, wraps, or breads.
Mock meats – If you like the chewy texture of meat, there are many products that can be added to your meals. Choose from bite-sized pieces of “chicken” or “beef”, meat analogs that are crumbly like ground beef, or substantial offerings like vegetarian “turkey” substitutes. It is a good idea to try several different brands, as there is a wide range of styles and quality. Mock meats, nondairy cheeses and milks, and other vegetarian foods are sold in most major supermarkets these days, and health food stores offer even more. VegCooking.com has an excellent list of these kinds of products.
Meal kits – Look for veggie meal mixes and dried soups. Flavoured rice mixes can be made into an entrée just by adding a can of beans.
Tofu – a pre-cooked soy product that is great for picking up flavours from the veggies and seasonings that you cook it with. The firm style is best marinated, baked, or stir-fried. Soft tofu can be blended to make creamy dressings, puddings, dips, and smoothies.
Tempeh – a cultured whole soy product available at natural food stores. Fry till golden and crispy, then add to a dish or serve on the side with Dijon mustard.
Seitan – a chewy meat-like product made from wheat gluten. Available at natural food stores.
Canned items – chickpeas, lentils, white beans, refried beans, hearty soups, etc.
Adjust the meals you currently make
Many of the meals that you prepare regularly can easily be adapted to a vegetarian menu. For example, a favorite spaghetti or chili recipe can be made with all of the same ingredients; just replace the meat with beans, textured vegetable protein (TVP), or a commercial ground beef analog. Make burritos using canned vegetarian refried beans instead of beef. Many soups, stews, and casseroles also can be made into vegetarian dishes with a few simple changes.
Breakfast and lunch are easy. Try muffins with fruit spread, toast, or cereal for breakfasts. Make sandwiches with spreads like hummus, veggie pate, black bean dip, nut butters, or white beans with lemon and garlic. Pasta, rice or potato salads, and even dinner leftovers make great lunches.
Shortcuts to vegetarian cooking
Click here for tips for shopping, meal preparation, and cooking that can save you hours in the kitchen.
Basic vegetarian meals
Click here for suggestions for preparing a delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal – Hearty soups, stir-fries, pasta, salads and more.
Try some new recipes
The possibilities are endless – stir-fries, hearty soups and stews, pastas, creative salads, Indian curries, tacos, avocado sushi, chili, oven-roasted vegetables, and much more.
Cookbooks – check out some vegetarian cookbooks from the library and experiment with the recipes until you find some that are delicious and easy to make.
Cooking classes – vegetarian classes are a great way to learn new recipes. Many include a delicious meal. See our Toronto Area list.