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Easy Vegetarian Dinners for your New Vegetarian

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  My daughter came home from school and announced “I am now a vegetarian”. I froze, wondering how my already complicated life was going to be able to incorporate vegetarian dinner options every night.  I wanted to support her decision, but we were a meat loving family. The thought of introducing even easy vegetarian dinners seemed overwhelming. That was four years ago and now we have it figured out. Here are three things I learned that help with a new limitation to your dinnertime plans.

You are not alone

A study published by Vegetarian Times showed that 7.3 million people are vegetarians.  There is no shortage of blogs, websites and publications that give great tips, resources and recipes for easy vegetarian dinners.  I quickly felt less worried about this new lifestyle. My biggest challenge became how to sift through the options and find some recipes that would please my new vegetarian, and perhaps the entire family.   Some of my best tips came from experienced friends or local Facebook groups.  Veteran vegetarians were quick to suggest the best ‘fake’ bacon or veggie burgers along with the best ‘five star’ recipes to try.

Embrace the health benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle

As I was researching new recipe ideas, I came across numerous articles on the long term health benefits of incorporating more vegetarian meals into our lives.  We have all heard about the benefits of a plant based diet,  but when I starting really reading about it, it was incredibly compelling.  Significantly lower rates of  Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are all listed as some of the major benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle. Other benefits included longer lives, fewer weight problems, better skin….who does not want that??   It is hard to ignore the overwhelming evidence and volume of scientific studies.    Reading about the incredible health benefits gave me a burst of motivation to make this work not only for my daughter, but also my whole family. I started to realize that easy vegetarian dinners could benefit the whole family. If you are looking for a quick read on this, check out this article on US News .

Get the vegetarian involved

I went to the library, borrowed a pile of vegetarian cookbooks. I asked my daughter to find ten dinners that had fewer than five main ingredients and a good balance of fiber, protein, carbs and essential vitamins.   We tried a new recipe each week – that’s right, I said “we”. If she was going to be committed to this lifestyle, we both needed to learn about different types of beans, tofu and grains that hadn’t been part of our weekly meals before. We got good at searching the internet for easy vegetarian recipes. We also discovered that there are meal planning services that can be helpful with this task. A meal planning service, like The Dinner Daily, can help build a menu that includes easy vegetarian dinners. The service can create a menu for us based on our preferences and save us a lot of extra planning time.

Make sure the other family members try the new meals

We always made enough of the vegetarian meal to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch or dinner for my daughter.  Whenever we tried a new meal, everyone was required to sample a spoonful of the new recipe.  They were often pleasantly surprised at how delicious the meals were.  Now, we have a rotation of easy vegetarian meals we use twice a week as the main course for everyone.

In conclusion

Change is never easy. And when you have a new vegetarian in the house, you will have to make some changes. But exploring vegetarian recipes will have far more benefits than just satisfying your new vegetarian. It will give you new ideas for delicious, healthy meals the whole family will enjoy.  Whether you are planning for a vegetarian or you just want to introduce more healthy plant-based meals, adding easy vegetarian dinners to your weekly menus is always a good thing.

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