How to Cook Better Food for Vegetarians and Vegans

Every home cook likely knows how to throw together a meatless meal or two, but actually cooking a meal that vegetarians or vegans will love can be tricky. Those who have held to this diet for any length of time can attest to growing tired of Tofurky for Thanksgiving and the various other clichés, and people who are only just making the switch to a meatless diet will find themselves running out of ideas if they don’t adjust their cooking techniques. Luckily, with just a bit of work, any chef can learn to prepare excellent vegetarian food.

Anyone who is just getting started on a diet without meat should begin by familiarizing themselves with some basic nutrition. Animal products contain many useful vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, protein, and vitamin B12, but there are easy ways for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy a nutritionally balanced diet. However, creating a flavorful meal can be more challenging, insofar as cooking with vegetables and other non-meat foods alone can prove difficult for those unpracticed in the art. Begin by picking up bold spices and fresh herbs, and don’t be afraid to ladle on some extra fat, with olive oil and butter being popular choices. It’s often easy to make the food look good, thanks to the beautiful colors and textures available with vegetables, but making it taste good usually requires interesting sauces or a combination of ingredients.

While a vegetarian or vegan cookbook will likely be an excellent way to get started on finding delicious new dishes, the main feasting event of the year, Thanksgiving, may present more of a challenge. For many vegetarians or vegans, Thanksgiving is the season of Tofurky or another big dry meatless loaf. Those planning a Thanksgiving dinner or any other big gustatory event at which vegetarians will be present should consider not overdoing a central dish and instead focus on the diversity of flavors available during the harvest season, preparing a number of side dishes instead. Alternately, consider finding something unusual and unexpected, like heirloom beans or vegetables, to make the special occasion feel even more special.

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