Teen FAQs

My mom says she doesn't mind me going veg but she doesn't have time to do any more cooking. I have no idea how to cook vegetarian. What can I do?

It's time to learn! You may actually be surprised how easy vegan and vegetarian cooking is. Besides being easy, there's little danger of food poisoning if veg foods like tofu are not completely cooked. As a result, you can learn how to cook foods to your own taste without having to worry as much about getting sick.

You may want to start at a lower difficulty level Ė prepared foods like seasoned tempeh or veggie burgers. All you need to do is warm these foods up, in a microwave, on the stove, etc. Serve with whatever the rest of the family is having for side dishes, and voilà! You can also make slight alterations to what your family eats to make it veg or simply healthier. You can use crumbled veggie burgers in pasta sauce to give it more protein when your family has spaghetti night. You can also use canned refried beans (Goya brand is one example of lard-free refried beans) in place of meat when your family is eating tacos for yummy and healthy vegetarian tacos. For lunches, veggie deli meats and cheeses can make delicious sandwiches. Look for them in the produce section of your local supermarket.

Once you have mastered the art of warming up meat substitutes, it is time to move on to tougher tasks. One of the easiest meals I learned how to make when I first went veg was a veggie and tofu stir-fry. Simply pour a little oil into a pan or wok, throw in some colorful veggies, some cubes of tofu, some seasoning of your choice (onions, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, etc.), and maybe even some nuts or seeds (sliced almonds are my favorite). For the best results, put the tofu and harder vegetables, like carrots, in first. That way, your tofu will be crispier at the end, and your carrots wonít be too tough. Then, when your tofu is almost done, add veggies like bell peppers so they donít lose their freshness and crispness from cooking too long.

There are many variations on the tofu stir-fry. You can use a different protein source, like seitan or tempeh, instead of tofu. You can also vary the veggies and spices depending on what you have in the house. If you're looking for more variety and think you can handle harder cooking tasks, buy yourself a vegetarian cookbook. Cookbooks themselves can vary from simple to gourmet, so remember to choose according to your ability. Maybe you can even serve your family some of the cuisine you prepare and convince them that vegetarianism is not only healthy, good for the environment, and kind to the animals, but also delicious!

Written by Erin Smith while doing an internship at VRG.