Don’t live near any health food stores or specialty shops?   Not to worry!  There’s plenty of vegetarian food at your local supermarket!  Here’s a simple how-to guide to get you started.

Fruit and vegetables!  The produce section of the store is my favourite place to start. Try out one new vegetable and one new fruit every week.  Do an online search for recipes that are centered around or include that vegetable if you’re not sure how to prepare it.  I google “how to eat/prepare [insert name of fruit or vegetable]” all the time! For example google how to prepare asparagus.

It’s also a really good idea to keep a variety of frozen vegetables in your freezer.  They’re frozen not long after harvesting so they maintain their nutritional content and they’re super convenient!

Beans and lentils!  Dry or canned, they’re full of fibre, minerals, and protein.  Add them to soups and stews or try a new recipe!  Have some cans of beans on hand for spontaneous cooking and nights when you don’t have a lot of time but pick up some dry beans and lentils for when you have a little more time to plan. Dry beans and lentils take up a lot less space in your cupboard, cost less, and don’t contain the sodium you’ll find in their canned counterparts.  Just be sure to soak over night or “quick soak” them by boiling for one minute, letting them sit for 1 hour, then draining and rinsing before adding fresh water and cooking according to the package directions.

Tofu and meat substitutes!  Most grocery stores carry at least a small selection of tofu and meat substitutes.   Look for a refrigerated case near the produce section and check the freezer section as well and you might find plain tofu (silken, medium, firm, etc.) and dessert tofu (coconut, peach-mango, etc), vegetarian hot dogs, burgers, deli “meats”, vegetarian “chicken” burgers and nuggets, even vegetarian “chicken” breasts and wings!  If you’re vegan, just double check the ingredients because some vegetarian meat substitutes contain dairy and/or eggs.

Inspiration from other cultures!   Have a taco or burrito night but swap chicken, ground beef and steak for mock chicken, veggie ground round, TVP (textured vegetable protein), or beans!  Pick up a jar of ready-made curry sauce (if you are vegan, check the ingredients and make sure there’s no Ghee aka clarified butter, yogurt, or cream) and make a mixed vegetable curry!  Try making your own vegetable sushi with some sheets of nori seaweed, rice, and veggies like avocado, carrots, and cucumber!

Things you already know and love!  Did you know that Oreo cookies are vegan?  There are lots of products you may already enjoy that are vegetarian friendly!  Check the ingredients list on your favourite products and you might be surprised!

– Heather, Veggie Challenge Team volunteer

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