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10 Great Vegetarian Substitutions to Put into Your Shopping Cart ...

By Lauren

So you've decided that the health benefits of being a vegetarian outweigh the delicious taste of meat. Or maybe you just can't handle eating the animals that you love so much. So now comes the question of what you should eat instead. Vegetarian and Vegan diets have become more and more mainstream which has resulted in many vegetarian and vegan choices. I'm here to help you get started with these 10 Great Vegetarian Substitutions to Put Into Your Shopping Cart!

1 Veggie Chicken & Burger Patties

Veggie Chicken & Burger PattiesBoca and Morning Star are two of my favorite brands of meatless chicken and burgers. Both companies have many variations of their chicken and burgers so it's great to try a couple different flavors until you find your favorite one. My favorites are the orginal chik'n patty from either brand, and Boca's bruschetta burger.

2 Veggie Hot Dogs

Veggie Hot DogsMy favorite veggie hot dog so far is Lightlife's Veggie Protein Link Smart Dogs. When put on a hot dog bun with some relish and ketchup, it tastes just as good as a regular hot dog but at only 45 calories per link and 0g of fat! These are great for the summer time for an easy BBQ meal that won't leave you feeling like you missed out and they are even a vegan option as well.

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3 Eggplant

EggplantLooking for a substitute in your favorite Italian dishes? Eggplant is the way to go! This meaty, purple vegetable can be used for meatless lasagnas and pastas. Then of course there's always the classic dish of eggplant parmesean which just so happens to be my absolute favorite dish!

4 Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello MushroomsMissing steak? Why not try a portobello mushroom steak? These mushrooms have a meaty texture that makes them seem just as tender and delicious as beef. With the right seasoning and some grill marks, you'll get the same smoky and delicious taste as a steak. Did I mention they are low in cholesterol and fat, and contain a significant amount of protein and other nutrients?

5 Lentils

LentilsSuprisingly, lentils can be used as a ground beef substitute. There are several recipes online for lentil sloppy joes and lentil tacos. A great thing about using lentils instead of ground beef is that it's way cheaper and a lower calorie and fat option.

6 Quinoa

QuinoaThis protein-packed food, with its nutty taste and chewy texture, is delicious as well as filling. Not only is it an excellent protein substitute, but it's also a low-cholesterol source of complex carbohydrates. It's cooked and eaten like you would any other grain so you can even use it to make mac & cheese!

7 Tofu

TofuTofu is a staple in almost every vegetarian diet. It's so versatile and easy to cook with that it's an excellent protein replacement in meals like stir fry, pastas and even as a fried food. Some people don't necessarily like the consistency of tofu, so try the different firmness variations that they come in.

8 Avocados

AvocadosCutting out animal products can mean cutting out the fat that goes along with it. Although this is a good thing especially when it comes to dieting, you still need healthy fats in your diet. That's where avocados come in! Avocados are packed with healthy facts you need to stay healthy and not to mention they are delicious on almost everything.

9 Almond Milk

Almond MilkIf you've chosen to stay away from animal milk as a part of your vegetarian diet, then I would recommend getting Almond Milk. Unlike animal milk, Almond milk doesn't contain lactose or cholesterol and it's rich in vitamins A, B and E. Other options include soy and coconut milk, but almond milk tends to be creamier which is why I like it the most.

10 Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti SquashI've you've chosen to stay away from eggs as a part of your vegetarian diet, it's important to look at the ingredients of some pastas. Spaghetti squash is a unique and fun alternative that not only saves you from eating egg but is also a low-carb option! Just heat up a spaghetti squash in either your microwave or oven until the inside is tender. Then, using a fork, scrap the inside out into little spaghetti-like strands. Top it off with your favorite cheese and sauce and you have a healthier pasta alternative!

The key to starting a vegetarian diet is to keep an open mind when it comes to trying new foods. Don't expect meat substitutes to taste exactly like meat because that may not be the case. If it tastes delicious, that's all that matters! What are your favorite vegetarian or vegan food substitutions?

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