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Recipes for a Recovering Vegetarian?

I love food. Let me rephrase that: I love vegetarian food. I became a vegetarian the day my parents let me (I was 7 ) and I've been one for more than half of my life. I always hated meat as a kid; the only thing I had a hard time giving up was gelatin. I've never had beef, pork, or even a hotdog (I've got over my animal rights phase and I would like to try more food (this life style is limiting my cooking and dinning) , be able to travel with greater ease and be in better health. The problem remains: I am still disgusted by meat. I can manage something with chicken stock in it or mild fish with a nice sauce; basically anything that is well disguised. Any well disguised meat recipes to help me ease onto it? Oh, another rub: I live in a gluten free household (not my choice, I assure you).
~Thanks!

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  1. have you been lacto-ovo all this time? (only because my first reaction was to point you toward eggs, but sort of silly if you've been eating them all along....)

    Is it a texture issue with you?

    Increasing fish is a good start..you might move toward the more "meaty" fish -- as you head toward tuna and salmon, it starts to get more toward the 'meat' end of the spectrum, as opposed to tilapia and flounder and other delicate species.

    Maybe a stir fry would work for you, too...then you could start with small bits of meat (chopped as fine as you need) then increase the size and quantity as you develop the taste for it.

    But if you can't do it -- it's okay -- I have a friend who has never liked meat, either, and she quite frankly wishes she could become a carnivore because it would make life easier for her, she says...she regularly tries bites of what she fixes for her husband and kids, and just can't get past the texture.

    Talk to your doctor and/or a nutritionist if you've got health concerns...they might be able to point you in a direction that could help.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      I love dairy and I'm fine with eggs.
      It is mostly a texture thing, or at least thats how it started. At this point it's been so long that the sight and the idea have become problematic. The smell of fish is also a problem. The stir fry and fish are both good ideas. I don't know if I can do the fish, but I'll give it a try. It's good to know that it's not just me. My doc and nutritionist just keep telling me to eat more meat, they're not big on helping. Actually most people seem to think it should be easy.
      Thank you.

      1. re: ThePiedPiper

        No easier than changing any lifestyle, and probably harder. Just a thought. I'd steer you towards things where the meat's not the central focus of the dish, which steers you right into ethnic food territory - pretty much anything except the classic American/British+ meal that centers around a joint or a roast. Stuffed vegetables would be a great start: home-ground chicken might be easier for you to deal with texturally speaking, and could be combined in small amounts with any grain, diced sauteed vegetables and herbs and spices to stuff eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes.......drizzled with oil; oven-baked. Pastas that incorporate mild seafoods might work beautifully for you too, and if you like dairy a light cream sauce might provide the buffer you need, but a delicious tomato-herb sauce could also be the base of a gorgeous seafood stew that you'd like. Several-bean chili, again incorporating small amounts of meat; tacos;some soups. Looks like stir-fries and frittatas are covered, so enough about those for now. Look at marinades and processes; you might enjoy certain things in certain ways, like a grilled piece of fish as opposed to baked; barbequed meat instead of pan-roasted, shredded meat sandwiches with a good helping of vegetable slaw. Also consider different ways of serving the foods: as in the sandwiches above, for which you could also sub in a good scoop of gardiniera for your veggies. Finally, cook and eat a strip of bacon. It may be just the jumpstart you need. :)

    2. I would recomend you start by cooking things like rice and beans in chicken or beef stock.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jpc8015

        and perhaps adding small bits of shredded chicken also.

      2. I think that ground meats might help you, as they might help avoid the texture thing. This recipe has poached ground chicken that stays tender. Start with a small amount and maybe throw some extra crunchy peanuts and green beans in to help mask the texture as well: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

        Another thought is that you can cook meat and then throw it in the food processor, like you would for a ravioli filling.

        1. I was ovo-lacto vegetarian for ten years, ending about a year ago. This isn't really about disguising meat in a dish, but - what really disgusts me about meat is the What The Hell Is That gross factor. Something crunchy (always!!) in a burger, veins in chicken, and whatever is in ground meat - it disgusts me, and I'm always the one to notice it. What works really well for me is more "intact" meat - a clean, real cut of meat that's more "pure." (I know this is really subjective, but I hope you know what I mean.) Like, a beef eye of round roast. Put it in your slow cooker in the morning with carrots, potatoes, and some water, and it's nothing but clean roast beef without any mysteries. I also find butterfly pork chops very clean in this way.

          or, bacon. buy a package or two of bacon, cook it all, put it in a ziploc in the freezer, and grab a couple of slices anytime you have salad, any kind of beans, hearty soup ... chop it up and put it on top. yum!

          2 Replies
          1. re: occula

            the more I think about it, the more I think bacon would be a good thing. It definitely doesn't have a meaty texture, it's delicious in all kinds of things, and the crunchy bits tend to add to the texture of the dish.

            And this is NOT any indication that you're loopy -- far from it! But perhaps a mental-health professional might be able to help you get over the textural aversion? Or a new nutritionist...it seems awfully abrupt of them to just tell you to eat more meat without any guidance as to how to reverse a lifelong trend!

            Stews, soups, and braises might be a good first step, too, as they're cooked for long periods of time, leaving intense flavor and a soft texture. You might even consider overcooking chicken or beef in a braise or stew for a while -- it gets quite soft, and might be a way to sensitize yourself to the texture of animal proteins...if it works well with almost-mushy chicken, then cook it a little less next time, to just 'falling apart'. when that's okay, progress to the next step, and so on.

            I wish you luck...and good health...with all of this.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Bacon has been known to turn many a vegetarian into a former one- including me! Bacon, the gateway meat!

          2. I sympathize. I fell off the veggie wagon recently and it's been weird. Unfortunately I don't have any brilliant tips yet. I will say that I find chicken and turkey a lot less gross to handle and cook than other meats.