Veggie num num is all about sharing a passion for vegetarian food. Australian born and raised, Trudy has a love of cooking that dates back to her childhood and the happy times spent preparing and enjoying food with her family. Since Veggie num num began in 2009, she's been sharing simple meat-free recipes that aim to provide a little inspiration for everyone to give vegie food a go!
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What were your reasons for becoming vegetarian?
I became a vegetarian early in my adult life, simply out of consideration for animal welfare and the conditions imposed on animals raised for food. It’s been over the past 14 years that my reasons have broadened to include a focus on living a more mindful, healthy and happy life, and to share my passion for vegetarian food.
Do you ever find that you’re limited in the foods you cook?
Never! The world of food is an exciting and dynamic place that never feels empty. Since becoming a vegetarian, and especially since creating Veggie num num, I’m always hunting out new foods and recipes. Experimenting with ways to prepare different foods and transforming meat dishes into vegetarian meals means I’m forever inspired.
What are your thoughts on meat-substitute products?
Processed meat-substitute products are not some of my favourite ingredients, but this doesn’t mean I avoid them altogether. I think they can be handy for an occasional quick-and-easy meal solution when you’re short on time. I try and avoid those that are overly processed and contain too many additives and preservatives. Not to mention, anything that is made to "look" and "taste" like meat is a little creepy.
Where do you live and how has this influenced your diet?
I grew up in North Queensland and, except for a short and most wonderful 15 months spent living on the South Island of New Zealand, have moved between there and South East Queensland all my life. The thing I love most about living in our beautiful tropical region is the ability to source lots of amazing fresh fruit and vegetables locally. At home on Tamborine Mountain, we try to eat seasonally and I’m always thankful for the wealth of fresh, tasty produce available to us year round from our local farm store and from our little garden at home.
You’ve said vegetarianism has had a profoundly positive effect on your life. How so?
I love being vegetarian; it’s been a wonderful and continuing journey of self-discovery. It’s taught me that convictions are their own reward and that through our choices we can have a positive effect on our own lives and on others. When you start to question where food comes from, what’s in it and how it’s produced, this opens up a whole new world to explore. This, in turn, urged me to be mindful and proactive in many of the decisions I make in my day-to-day life.
What are some common misconceptions about 'going vegie"?
In a society where meat is a staple, it’s only natural that many have a hard time figuring out exactly what a vegetarian eats. I think one of the wildest misconceptions is the fear of bland or boring food. Plus, I think many feel the change in diet may be unrealistic or unachievable. It’s a misconception that can put off those who like the idea of being vegie, but find it difficult to start. Since sharing recipes on Veggie num num, I’ve heard from so many who simply needed a little inspiration in the kitchen to get cooking delicious vegetarian food. Learning about new foods and flavours is the key to a successful and happy vegetarian.
For someone who’s flirting with the idea of switching to a no-meat diet, what are a few foods you recommend they learn to cook and love?
I’d say learn to cook and love as many foods as possible! Trying new ingredients will open up the world of vegie food. I think, for anyone flirting with the idea, this is really fundamental. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and things like dried fruits, nuts and seeds, plus wholegrain cereals, pastas and breads. Also, couscous, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, tahini, oats, raw cacao powder, chia seeds, molasses, soy products (like tofu and tempeh), plus dairy and eggs are all versatile and wonderful additions to a meat-free diet.
What spurred you to begin your blog?
I think it all came about with the simple idea that people love food and perhaps I had something to share that others may enjoy. I liked the idea of a vegetarian website that wasn’t necessarily just for vegetarians. I’ve cooked exclusively vegetarian from day one and this meant I wanted to continually cook meals both my husband, Cam (now vegie for nearly a year), and others would enjoy just as much as a non-vegetarian meal. My aim is not to turn the whole world vegie, but simply to provide, hopefully, delicious meat-free recipes for everyone to enjoy.
Give us an example of three dishes you prepared in the last week.
With the warmer weather, we've been enjoying lots of salads at home lately, throwing in whatever fruits and vegetables I have on hand. So there have been a few quick salads either with couscous, quinoa or chickpeas added in. Pasta is a favourite, so I usually eat that once a week, too. We also enjoyed a baked risotto, which I find myself making often for a quick-and-tasty meal. It’s seriously the easiest thing in the world to do and the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of vegetables.
What are some easy vego lunch ideas?
Wraps or open sandwich are a great, quick and convenient way load up on tasty and nutritious ingredients. I love rye, rice or wholemeal wraps filled with avocado, hummus and fresh salad ingredients, plus you can add things like tinned chickpeas or butter beans and different cheeses or a boiled egg for added protein. Couscous and quinoa are quick to prepare, making them ideal for a nutritious lunch with added fresh ingredients, as is a simple Asian-inspired soup. Simply grab some dried soba or undo noodles, boil up some stock or water and have a few fresh vegies on hand to drop in for a filling, tasty lunchtime meal.
Any final words for your fellow foodies?
If you’re interested in trying a few meat-free meals, all I can say is give it a go! Don’t stress over being a vegetarian, simply try to incorporate new foods that suit you, your taste, dietary needs and lifestyle. There is absolutely no reason why a vegetarian diet should be bland or simply a big plate of soggy vegies. And I sure hope you’ll join me over at Veggie num num – my little home for all the recipes that keep me healthy, happy and inspired.
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