We at GoWISE USA did some research on what it truly means to be a vegetarian. There is a continued interest to become vegetarian for many people, but many are hesitant to take that giant leap. Becoming vegetarian seems like it would be too hard or that you won’t have the will power to do it. We found some helpful tips and tested out some awesome recipes and meat alternatives in our air fryers to help get you started.
13 Tips for Becoming a Vegetarian
- Have good reasons. If you don’t have a good reason(s) to make the change, chances are you won’t stick with it very long. Any lifestyle or habit change requires some motivation, so make sure you really want to become vegetarian.
- Read up on as much material as you can. Find some vegetarian blogs to get inspiration, tell your friends and family, check out a couple of good books from the library. Get as much information possible before making the decision to switch.
- Tell your friends and family. If you are serious about making the leap to be a vegetarian, start with telling your friends, family, anyone close to you. You’ll be dining with them at restaurants, social gatherings, both of your homes on a regular basis, so it’s good for them to understand your reasons behind the switch. They might even try out a vegetarian dish or two!
- Make a list of your staples. Start by listing all the food you regularly eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Not meals, but all of the ingredients. Then think about substitutions or vegetarian alternatives for those and make a separate list. For example, instead of eating meat, you could try tofu.
- Start with cutting red meat out, then the rest. A gradual transition to cutting foods out is recommended, because it can be hard to quit cold turkey. Cut out red meat for the first week, then move on to cutting out pork, and so on. If you do great with going meatless for a while and want to try to go further, consider cutting out dairy and eggs.
- Find good recipes to try out that you will enjoy. You don’t need to run to the store and buy a bunch of new cookbooks. There are plenty of recipes available to you online, especially Pinterest!
- Try out one recipe a week. Once you try it out and decide if you like it or not, you can add it to your list of staple recipes to use on a regular basis. Even if the recipe isn’t that great, you can always try a new one next week. Before you know it, you’ll have 10 great recipes that you’ll absolutely love!
- Substitutions. Remember there are substitutions for almost everything. If you are a person who loves their meat, try using a meat alternative. BOCA and Morning Star have some great choices when it comes to meat alternatives. This way you can go on eating what you normally would, but meatless!
- Cook ahead. A problem many of us run into is when we don’t have any food readily available to eat, so we resort to whatever is the easiest. When you’re trying to eat vegetarian, this can be difficult. Cook your meals for the week the Sunday before (or when you can), so you have it in your fridge for when you get hungry.
- Getting enough protein. One of the many myths of being vegetarian is that you aren’t getting enough protein. People who eat meat usually take in more protein than they need. If you eat a variety of foods including vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and soy protein, then you will be fine. Soy protein is also a complete protein by itself and soy is a big part of eating vegetarian.
- Help with weight loss. Since you will be replacing meat and junk food with more nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and more, your body will be getting the nutrients it needs. This will help you with weight loss and ultimately, better health.
- Vegetarian restaurants. You will still want to go out to eat at restaurants like everybody else. Try out some vegetarian restaurants in your area. You might discover some tasty food you didn’t know existed. If you don’t have any vegetarian restaurants near you, most restaurants will have some vegetarian options.
- Reduce the suffering. It isn’t unknown that there are great amounts of suffering involved on the animal’s part. By cutting out meat, you are reducing the involvement in that and making a difference.
Next, we tested a few popular meat alternatives. The brands we experimented with were BOCA, Morning Star and Gardein. Remember, these are just a few of them out there and please take advantage of this table when air frying the same or similar alternatives!
Type of Meat
Chicken Veggie Patties
Flip over patties halfway through.
Breakfast Sausage Links
Turn over and shake sausage links halfway through.
Place Chorizo Crumbles in a pizza pan and place in air fryer. Stir the chorizo halfway through.
Mandarin Orange Chicken
Flip the chicken halfway through. Heat up the included sauce packet in a skillet or microwave.
Veggie Steak Strips
Place strips in a pizza pan and place in air fryer. Add in 2 tbsp of water in the pan. Halfway through, shake the strips and spray with olive oil.
Enhance your air frying experience with our 6 piece accessory kit, that includes the pizza pan we used to air fry a few of these meat-free foods!
Asian Salad with Tofu
Our first recipe we tested was an Asian Salad with Tofu. Tofu is one of the more popular meat alternatives out there. We combined this meat-free food with this salad to give it some extra protein. Any vegetables would be fine to toss in this salad. We chose cucumber, carrots and green onions, because it’s what was readily available to us. Rice vinegar was our dressing of choice, to make this dish healthier. Make sure not to use seasoned rice vinegar as it contains extra fatty ingredients, like sugar and corn syrup.
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp sriracha
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
4 cups romaine lettuce shredded
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vegetable oil, sriracha, ginger and garlic. Add cubed tofu and mix gently. Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place tofu on perforated parchment paper (optional) in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry at 400°F for 15 minutes, shaking halfway through.
While the tofu is cooking, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and green onions in a large bowl. Add cucumber, carrots, and onions and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate.
When the tofu is done, toss with marinated vegetables and shredded romaine lettuce and serve.
Fish Taco Crunch Wraps with Mango Salsa
We included one dish with fish in it, because some vegetarians will still enjoy a good salmon dish every once in a while. To make this a true vegetarian dish, the salmon can be substituted for black beans. We paired it with a mango salsa to give it a sweeter twist. Make sure you don’ t fill up your tortilla too much to ensure it will close and not rip. We used tooth picks to hold the wrap together in the air fryer. Placing the wrap cheese side down is important to ensure it cooks thoroughly and doesn’t unwrap in the process.
4 large burrito sized tortillas
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 cobs of corn, cut from the cob
½ lb. of salmon
½ to ¾ cup mango salsa
4 tbsp vegan shredded cheese
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
1 jalapeno, diced
¼ cup fresh mint or ½ tsp dried mint
juice of 1 lime
pinch of sea salt
In your pressure cooker, saute onion and bell pepper for five minutes. Add in corn and saute for another couple minutes.
Remove the skin from the salmon and place on perforated parchment paper (optional) in the air fryer basket. Use the fish preset and air fry at 360°F for 18 minutes, flipping hallway through.
While you are waiting for the salmon to cook, combine the mango salsa ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Once the salmon is done cooking, cut each filet into small pieces. Then, spoon one fourth of the onion pepper corn mixture into the middle of the tortilla. Add pieces of one salmon filet, followed by 2 tbsp of mango salsa.
Layer several tortilla chips on top, then a handful of mixed greens. Fold sides of the tortilla, going around the circle to form a round wrap. Use one tablespoon of shredded cheese to hold the tortilla together. Use toothpicks if necessary.
Place the wrap cheese side down on perforated parchment paper (optional) in the air fryer basket. Repeat with remaining wraps and air fry at 350°F for 6 minutes. Garnish with extra mango salsa if desired and enjoy!
Air Fried Vegetables
Vegetables are a big part of eating a vegetarian diet, so it’s important to find a recipe you love! We used bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, because that is what was available for us to use. Any vegetable you desire will taste great! No seasoning is necessary if the vegetables are being mixed with something, but this seasoning makes it a delicious standalone dish, as well! Air frying these vegetables for 8-10 minutes is the appropriate amount, to ensure the vegetables do not get soggy. Lay the vegetables in a single layer, so that they will all evenly cook.
1 bell pepper
¼ cup red onion
4 oz mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
sprinkle of salt and pepper
Chop bell pepper, onion and mushrooms into medium sized pieces. Add vegetables, olive oil, thyme, ground cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a bowl and toss to combine.
In a single layer, place vegetables on perforated parchment paper (optional) in air fryer basket. Air fry at 320°F for 8-10 minutes or to your desired doneness.
Macaroni and Cheese Toasties
Next, we tried out a classic dish, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, but with a twist. We used both cheese slices and macaroni and cheese to make it extra cheesy! Homemade or store bought macaroni and cheese will suffice, what ever is available to you or your preference. Evenly spread the mac and cheese to ensure your sandwich(s) evenly cook. Reduce fats by brushing egg or butter on top of the bread slices instead of oil or cooking spray.
2 slices white bread
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp macaroni and cheese
cheddar cheese slices
salt and pepper
Layer one bread slice with macaroni and cheese, making sure to spread the pasta evenly onto the bread. Top with 1-2 cheddar cheese slices and place the other slice of bread on top and cut diagonally.
Brush the outside of your bread with egg, along with salt and pepper and repeat on the other side of bread. Place on perforated parchment paper (optional) in the air fryer basket and air fry at 350°F for 6-10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Cauliflower Veggie Burger with Vegan Ranch Dressing
Everyone needs a good burger recipe! In the spirit of going meat-free, we opted for a cauliflower burger. Steaming the cauliflower first is important, so that the vegetable will start to turn into dough. You will need to drain as much water as possible, so that the mixture resembles dough and your burgers will form. Make sure to immediately freeze them afterward to ensure they keep their form and can easily be coated with the breading. We used vegan and nondairy ingredients for the dressing to keep it vegetarian. To make this extra healthier, enjoy it lettuce wrapped!
1 head of cauliflower
3 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp garlic puree
3 cup bread crumbs
¼ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup oats
3 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp chives
1 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 ½ cups vegan mayo
¼ cup nondairy milk
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tbsp parsley
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp pepper
Chop up the cauliflower into florets and steam in a steam basket in the pressure cooker, using the steam preset for high pressure at 8 minutes.
While you are waiting for the cauliflower to steam, mix together all the ranch dressing ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Once the cauliflower is done, drain it and leave it in the pressure cooker. Using a vegetable knife, dice it into smaller pieces. Add salt, pepper, mustard powder and a teaspoon of garlic puree, stirring to combine. Place the cauliflower in a tea towel and ring out any excess water until it resembles bread dough.
Place the cauliflower mixture in a medium bowl with salt, pepper, the rest of the seasoning, further garlic puree, coconut oil and mix well. Add in the desiccated coconut, oats and one cup of bread crumbs to the cauliflower mixture.
In 3 separate bowls, add in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Cover your hands in flour to ensure your hands don’t stick to the mixture and shape the cauliflower mixture into burgers. Place the burgers on a freezer safe plate and chill for 30 minutes. Then roll in the flour, the egg and then the bread crumbs, repeat this step to ensure burgers are fully coated.
Place on perforated parchment paper (optional) in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 350°F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with the vegan ranch dressing, hamburger bun, and extra toppings desired.
To conclude, vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested in eating healthier, cutting meat out of your diet, helping the environment, or just want to see what it’s all about then it might be for you! Making food and lifestyle changes can always be challenging but following these tips and finding tasty recipes can make it easier. Going vegetarian doesn’t need to be a hassle when it involves yummy food and an air fryer!
A big thank you to the authors of the recipes we tested out. Check out the links below to take a look at the original recipes.