It’s that time of year again. October 1 is World Vegetarian Day and kicks off a week (or month) of vegetarian and vegan living for many. If you are new to meatless eating, you may not be sure how and what to eat. Ditching meat, eggs, and dairy isn’t as difficult as one might think. While those with specific dietary needs may need to consult a professional, many can go veggie with little fuss.
One common mistake new veggie converts make is not eating enough. A regular calorie deficit below one’s individual needs may lead to health issues. When in doubt, please consult a professional. I am not a health professional. Any suggestions here do not take the place of professional advice.
For breakfast, swapping dairy-based milk, cheese, or yogurt is easy thanks to well-stocked grocery shelves. Most of the Charleston-area grocery stores stock almond, coconut, or soymilk. A trip to Teader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market (both in Mt. Pleasant), or Earth Fare (in South Windermere) will result in many other options, including hemp, rice, and combined non-dairy milk. Have a smoothie, cereal or oats with fruit, muffin, toast with nut butter, yogurt, or whatever you usually like to start your day. If an egg sandwich with meat and cheese is your thing, swap that egg for tofu and use your favorite meatless version of your choice. Gimmie Lean Sausage is always in the produce department at Bi-Lo, Publix, and Harris Teeter.
Do you take your lunch to work or school? If so, load your lunchbox with plant-based goodness. If sandwiches are your thing, there are many vegetarian and vegan versions of cold cuts on the market. The old faithful nut butter and jelly works, too. Make sure to complete the meal with fruit, veggies and dip, trail mix, chips, soup, salad, or anything else you like. If you grab your meals on the go, Chipotle, Moe’s Southwest, Qdoba, Subway, Taco Bell, Firehouse Subs, and other chains offer vegetarian and vegan options. Even the Veggie Sandwich at Five Guts Burgers and Fries is accidentally vegan when diners skip the mayo and cheese.
For dinner, the sky’s the limit. Have a traditional meat and three type meal with Gardein, Tofurky, or Field Roast standing in place of meat. Have a veggie plate with your favorites arranged in order of preference. Have pasta with a tomato or Earth Balance Vegan Butter sauce, a side vegetable, salad, and garlic bread. If you feel Mediterranean, Ali Baba’s Deli on Daniel Island does not disappoint. Go for the three or four item veggie plate and choose from the many delicious vegetable and bean dishes in the deli case.
If you’re looking for something sweet, several cookies on grocery shelves are accidentally vegan. Oreo, Nutter Butter, and most of the Newman’s Own cookies are available all over Charleston and perfect for a sweet treat. If frozen sweets are your thing, look for So Delicious in pints or chocolate-covered bars. Bi-Lo and Publix have the biggest selection to choose from if you don’t want to make a special trip to Folly Road or Mt. Pleasant.
Will you go vegetarian on October 1 (or longer)? If you want to stick with plant-based eating on a regular basis, swing by any branch of the Charleston County Library for cookbooks. The selection may surprise you.