Meat Prices Going Up? Tips for Switching to a Vegetable-Based Diet

vegetarian-diet-tipsCombat High Meat Prices with Tips for Going Vegetarian

Argentina has halted export of a main dietary staple, beef, to keep local prices down. This has led to a beef shortage worldwide, along with an increase in price.   How will that affect us here in the Middle East? And what can we do about it?

According to Ynet, beef prices in Israel are set to rise by about 20%. And make no mistake: Chicken, fish, egg and dairy prices will follow, because of demand. If you’re already a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll feel it less. But if meat is an important part of your diet, current market forces could give you the incentive  you need to switch to a vegetarian, or a “vegawarian”, diet.

Learning to cook without meat requires a change in outlook, and most important, planning ahead. Otherwise you could end up eating processed, expensive and fattening foods from vegetable sources. Eating vegetarian is not just a green thing to do—it can be frugal and healthy as well.

To help you get started, I’ve collected some tips for eating less meat whether your goal is a vegetarian, vegawarian or vegan diet.

  1. Analyze the situation. When did you eat meat and chicken during the last week? Resolve to cut back on the amount of meat meals this coming week. Talk to your family and friends to get them on board.
  2. Find vegetarian options for the meat meals you’ve decided to give up. You may already cook some vegetarian meals, so start by making them more often. If you need recipes, why not try Butternut Squash Stuffed with Quinoa, or Majadra (Lentils and Rice)?
  3. Get creative with substitutes. Use rich and flavorful portobello mushrooms as the basis for your meal. Incorporate garlic, hot pepper, spices, and fresh herbs as seasoning. Instead of rice and potatoes think quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat, bulgur, wild rice, or barley . And add legumes, nuts and seeds wherever you can—in soups, stews, spreads, and salads. Keep in mind that some items, like quinoa or tree nuts, can be expensive.
  4. Plan ahead. Wash, peel and chop vegetables in advance and store in the refrigerator for a quick meal later in the week. Soak beans in advance, although smaller legumes like dried peas, black-eyed peas and lentils don’t need it.
  5. Use the right equipment. Some legumes, like dried kidney beans and chickpeas, take a long time to cook. Save time and money by cooking a large batch in the pressure cooker or slow cooker and storingin small portions for future meals.

What techniques have you used to cut back on the amount of meat you eat? Let us know in the comments.

For recipes, you may also like:

Where Macrobiotic Meets Makluba in Jerusalem

More Posts by Hannah Katsman:
Five Edible Wild Plants You Can Pick Yourself
Israeli Parents Organize Walking Bus to Transport Schoolchildren
Twelve Tips for Getting Kids Used to Healthy Food
Photo credit: meaduva

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6 thoughts on “Meat Prices Going Up? Tips for Switching to a Vegetable-Based Diet”

  1. Lou, thanks for your comment. Any kind of change in diet and cooking style takes getting used to.
    -Hannah

  2. Lou says:

    Thanks for the useful tips. I stopped eating meat about six months ago and will admit that it was dreary at first. But after the first few weeks, the non-meat diet started feeling “normal” and I started enjoying being imaginative with ingredients and cooking methods. I suggest to carnivore friends that if they can’t quit, they can always cut down and that’s the first step.

  3. Thank you, Ilana.
    Leah, I agree, eating less meat at each meal makes a difference.
    Risa, I think that legumes and whole grains are the way to go to save money and eat well. Vegans don’t eat any animal products.

  4. Risa says:

    I’m just wondering, here in Israel, what other ingredients can you use as creative substitutes? Mushrooms aren’t that cheap, certainly not in the quantities you need for main dishes. Also, please excuse my ignorance but what is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

  5. LeahGG says:

    I also go the other way – I’ll make a meat dish that has tons of other ingredients in it, so that 1/2 kilo of meat makes a large pot of stew, chulent, meat loaf, meat sauce, chili (with beans), while 1/2 kilo of meat is barely enough for 2 steaks.

    It means that we can indulge in a meal that feels like a lot of meat without actually using a lot of meat.

    Other than chicken, we almost never eat “straight meat.” Roast, steaks, hamburgers, or corned beef are special occasion foods – probably we eat all of those together about 6-7 times a year.

  6. Ilana-Davita says:

    This is an excellent piece Hannah. Although I have not gone completely vegetarian, I use less and less meat. It helps that I enjoy dairy meals.

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