By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn
Why become a part-time vegetarian? Because it is healthy and delicious.
One does not have to be completely vegetarian, carnivorous or vegan (plant-based) to be healthy. You can, like me, become a part-time vegan and vegetarian.
As a nutritionist, I do not regularly advocate a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, as I think meat can be fine in moderation, but, since most of us need to eat more vegetables, I do advise more fruits and vegetables and less animal products for most people. However it is worth noting, and as I have said before, we CAN get all necessary nutrients from plants.
The obstacles most people face in eating more plants and less animal products are knowledge, convenience and habit. I have been on a learning curve myself, as I continue to evolve and become more and more vegan or “plant based”. I am leaning vegan for health and ethical reasons, though it is a personal choice. Ignorance can be bliss, but bliss is not a good word for many of the animal products I was eating. I eat about 80% less animal foods than before, but, converting is not always easy. So if you want to eat more vegan foods, be it for moral, health reasons or both, I will continue to share my successes in vegan and vegetarian cuisine with the hope that it will lead to more people eating more fresh, whole plant foods, as that is what the data says is most healthy.
My latest vegetarian creation was a Portabella BBQ Western Burger. Compare the nutrient value of this delectable dish with a typical beef hamburger. This mouthwatering creation has 220 fewer calories, 7 grams less saturated fat, 17 grams less total fat, 60 milligrams less sodium, 80 mg less cholesterol and much more fiber than a beef burger does.
Portabella BBQ Western Burger
1 portabella mushroom
1 whole-grain hamburger bun
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
1 onion slice
1 tomato slice
1 piece lettuce
2 slices mozzarella or vegan cheese
Non-stick cooking spray or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Sauté mushroom in oil or cooking spray for 2-3 minutes. Turn mushroom over, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Toast bun for 1 minute. Place mushroom on lightly toasted bun and place cheese slices on top. Set in oven open-face or closed, and bake or broil until cheese is melted (2-3 minutes). Remove. Add barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion and slice in half (as it may get messy). Serve and enjoy!
Adaptations: You could use a teriyaki or other sauce instead of barbecue sauce. Get creative. Some of the most delicious meals I have cooked were based on what I had in the garden, cupboard or fridge!