A few of my favorite accessible vegetarian options on the market right now

I became a vegetarian almost exactly one year ago after watching the documentary Food, Inc. in my AP Environmental Science class. This documentary, one I recommend everyone watch, exposes the meat production industry and explains the intensely negative environmental impacts it has. 

In short, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, excessive water usage, and the use of toxic pesticides are unavoidable in the current mass production of meat. Due to this, reducing meat consumption by any amount helps the environment. 

Although vegetarianism or diets similar aren’t necessarily sustainable for everybody, cutting down on meat consumption is, especially after exploring the options on the market right now. The options below are both accessible—all discovered at my local Harvest Health Foods or Meijer—and are all incredibly easy to make.

Amy’s Vegan GF Vegetable Lasagna- $8.59

To my joy, the cashier checking my groceries out excitedly said that Amy’s was the best frozen-dinner brand she’d ever had; this comment set my expectations very high. However, with a bad start, in terms of tasting like a true reiteration of the food, this lasagna falls short. Although, I don’t believe this was the goal of the product. Some vegetarian imitations are attempting to completely copy the taste and texture of the original food; however, this product is more trying to provide a tasty and healthy alternative to a traditional lasagna. 

Where this meal doesn’t disappoint is the noodles. With a close family member of mine being gluten-free, I have sampled many gluten-free noodles and they are rarely similar to traditional noodles. These ones, however, were both incredibly appetizing and nearly indistinguishable from normal noodles. 

Woodstock’s Organic Cauliflower and Cheese Ravioli- $7.99

This is definitely a brand and food item that will become a part of my favorites. I thoroughly enjoy foods that incorporate vegetables without just blatantly adding them on top. This pasta is flavorful, easy to make, and incredibly enjoyable. Although it is an example of a food that could easily be found without the outright label of ‘vegetarian’ on it, it is still a tasty addition to a meatless repertoire. My rating of this dish is high, and I think someone with any diet plan could enjoy it. 

Of course, no mass-produced food item is going to be completely positive for the environment. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that any reduction in the consumption of factory-processed meat products is beneficial.”

Gardein Ultimate Plant-based Chick’n Tenders- $8.99

I have gone through many brands of “Chick’n” products. These plant-based imitations are pretty difficult to make taste poorly, in my opinion; a lot of times they don’t taste like real chicken, but that’s usually an acceptable trade-off. These, however, taste incredibly similar to chicken, and the texture is nearly perfect. Many people are hesitant about this trade-off, but if you’re searching for a solution that’s more beneficial to the environment and altogether healthier, these imitation chicken tenders are most definitely a good place to start. 

Of course, no mass-produced food item is going to be completely positive for the environment. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that any reduction in the consumption of factory-processed meat products is beneficial.

Furthermore, these solutions are accessible and easy ways to consume a “meatless meal.” Most of these I prepared entirely myself and could afford independently as a teenager making minimum wage. The best solution, however, will always be to buy food products from local farmers. This positively impacts the environment, community, and economy in vast ways; so, if you have that opportunity, it’s vital that you take that plunge. 

No matter what, I can only hope that this allowed an insight into eating habits more aimed towards the environment or provided dinner ideas for the next week. No matter what, doing your part in any way is grandly important, and constantly pondering how every small action, even just eating dinner, contributes to your ecological footprint is vital as well.

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