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Last month, my wife and I spent a little bit of time exploring documentaries on Netflix about the food supply. First we watched Fork Over Knives – by far one of the best documentaries I’ve watched in a long time. It was the first I learned about The China Study, which showed scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of a plant-based (meatless) life.
Then, feeling inspired, we watched Food, Inc. Finally, just about ready to chuck every piece of animal product in our house, we decided to watch yet another documentary called Vegucated – a fun documentary where the filmmaker took three people off the street and introduced them to a Vegan lifestyle cold-turkey (pun intended). All three adopted the lifestyle for good. Every person saw crazy health benefits from just a few months on the diet – lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower weight, and the list went on.
Personally, I’ve never really been the “vegetarian” type. That stuff is for tree-hugging hippies, right? I grew up hunting and fishing, so it would be pretty hypocritical of me to start screaming “save the animals” at this point in my life. However, the whole health-issue really struck a nerve with me. I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight lately, and noticed that it seemed no matter what I did, I couldn’t achieve my goals. Maybe it’s part reduced metabolism from getting older, but seriously, it can’t be that bad?
Hearing about The China Study and watching those documentaries woke our family up to the reality that what companies put in processed foods actually trick your stomach into getting hungry again more quickly after eating. Ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup are in everything. Piled on top of the high-caloric, high-fat meat products that make up 60 to 70 percent of every meal – it’s no wonder losing weight and getting healthy is so hard.
Vegetarian Recipes to Avoid Food Boredom
As I usually do when I start researching anything, I turned to MakeUseOf and discovered a couple of cool vegetarian articles, like Bakari’s article listing some online resources to help with becoming vegetarian. We’ve also covered VegetarianRecipe.us, a vegetarian recipe search engine, and a great place to go to find veggie recipes.
However, being totally new to this, I knew that I couldn’t just jump in without having a really wide range of good-tasting recipes to choose from. I need everything from breakfast, dinner and as many snacks as possible so that I can avoid getting hungry on a diet of what I thought would be an endless chain of salad after salad.
Little did I know that there’s a virtual smorgasbord of foods when it comes to vegetables, grains, beans and nuts. I really wish I’d explored these websites before, and I’m pleased to offer them as a resource to anyone else out there that might be getting started in this strange new world called vegetarianism (or veganism…if that’s your flavor).
7 Awesome Vegetarian Recipe Websites
In order to keep this article apart from the many recipe websites that we’ve covered here at MUO, I’m going to keep this review focused only on sites that are focused entirely on vegetarian fare, not those that only offer a vegetarian category.
Under that criteria, it’s pretty obvious which is the biggest, best site out there for vegetarian recipes, and that’s the Vegetarian Times. Between the well-designed front page of the site that offers lots of big photos of food that looks too tasty to be vegetarian, and a collection of blog entries that can keep you motivated about your new lifestyle, this is a fun site to check out every day even if you’re not looking for a recipe.
Of course, if you are wondering how on earth you’re going to turn those vegetables in your refrigerator into an interesting meal that your family will actually want to eat, the Recipes menu item is the place to turn to. All recipes are organized by category or cuisine, and there are often special collections of recipes for things like holidays.
Best of all, each recipe shows a large, detailed photo of what the dish is supposed to look like, and detailed ingredients and instructions on how to whip it together yourself.
Best of all, nutritional information per recipe! It’s actually pretty rare to find that on recipe sites, and it’s nice especially if you’re keeping track of things like calories, fat content, or sodium intake.
Another nice one that I’ve found I visit most often is a site called VegWeb. The site has a community and a blog, but by far its core purpose is to serve as a place to go for great vegetarian recipes. What I like about it is that you can go to the main page, glance at the pictures and categories, and just click on what you feel like eating tonight.
Each section has tons of recipes to choose from, and they really aren’t that hard to make. They are community entered recipes, so most may not have photos, but I’ve come across some really awesome recipes here that made me realize removing meat from my diet really isn’t going to be all that painful after all.
Another site that is similarly a good place to go if you’re really unsure of what type of food you want to eat is VegKitchen. The Recipes Galore area gives you interesting categories to check out like slow-cooker recipes, southwestern supper, or soulful soups. You can even choose to search for vegan or vegetarian recipes by what sort of special occasion you have going on, which is kind of a cool way to look for ideas.
This is another site where the recipe layout is very professional. The rating system is always helpful to sort of weed out the really gross recipes, and the pictures give you a quick sense of what the end result will be. A lot of times you can decide whether or not you want to make it based on the picture alone.
Another great recipe site dedicated to the veggie lifestyle is ChooseVeg [No longer available]. Big positive points for the useful front panel menu that lets you go directly into the recipe areas for the type of meal you’re looking to eat. Extra bonus points for including a snack category – critical if you’re hoping to stave off hunger with low-cal snacks and lose weight.
One negative point is the fact that the recipes don’t feature any pictures, but that is countered by the fact that most of the articles are easy to make and taste good. That’s actually a very difficult combination to find, and most of the articles at ChooseVeg are like that, which makes it a place where I go to often for ideas.
I should add that there is an area of videos that show how to make particular feature recipes, so I can’t say the site is lacking in all multimedia. Check out a couple of these videos – they’re actually very professionally done.
One unlikely place to find vegetarian recipes where you probably wouldn’t otherwise look, is thewebsite. It’s clearly an activist website with articles and investigations into animal cruelty around the world. But click on the “Veg Recipes” menu item and there you go – tons of some of the best recipes I’ve ever seen that offer non-meat alternatives for the kind of meals that meat-lovers have a hard time giving up.
I think my favorite is Sloppy Moes. If you use the right brand of vegetable protein meat substitute, it’s unbelievably close to the original. There aren’t volumes of recipes here, but the recipes at Compassionate Overkilling are the ones you would turn to when you’re having a really strong meat-craving and are on the edge of giving up the non-meat lifestyle.
The last veg-focused site I wanted to mention is Herbivoracious. Why do I mention this site? Well, one reason is that I was able to find a recipe here for “making tofu delicious”. Tofu is one of those foods that I always wanted to like because it’s such a great source of protein, but it’s so horribly bland that it’s really hard to figure out what to do with it. Well, Herbivoracious – much more of a recipe “blog” than a recipe “site” – has those sorts of solutions available.
It’s also a fun place to go just to read some articles. It’s a typical blog, written by authors with that usual ‘bloggy’, conversational wit and sarcasm that blogs are well-known for (yes, we’re guilty of it too), but that’s what makes it a fun place to visit every day and check out what new ideas the authors have come up with.
So, that completes my list of top vegetarian-focused sites, but that only makes six, right? Well, I’m going to break the rules with one case and mention AllRecipes. It isn’t only focused on vegetarian, and it has been my all-time favorite site for meal ideas for many years, whether I was vegetarian, meat-eating, low-carb, low-fat or whatever.
The reason it’s so ideal for vegetarians too is that it offers a really useful and effective ingredient search that lets you type in up to three ingredients that you might have laying around the house, and it’ll list all of the recipe ideas that incorporate those ingredients. I tried it with something as unlikely as “black beans”, “kale” and “vegetable broth”, and the site gave me the recipe for a 5-star vegetable-broth based bean soup that I’m going to try out for lunch this weekend.
One thing I have to say about heading down this new and interesting lifestyle path is that it’s nearly impossible to keep up without an arsenal of really tasty recipes you can choose from when you’re looking for what to have for dinner with your family. These are the sort of recipes that you’ll start to really crave once you have them once or twice. They’ll give you a place to go rather than opting for the heart-killing meat-based meals people are so focused on these days.
Are you a long-time vegetarian or vegan with your own list of awesome recipe sites? Are you a newb like me, looking for as many tasty ideas as possible? Share your own experience with this lifestyle and let us know where you turn to on the Internet for meal ideas in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Quinoa Salad Via Shutterstock