If I'm vegetarian, do I have to eat tofu? What can I eat instead of tofu?

Grilled tofu over charcoal, close-up
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If I go vegetarian, do I have to eat tofu? I really want to go vegetarian but I don't like tofu!

I really try to believe that there's no such thing as a silly question when it comes to vegetarianism, but I really can't quite see the logic behind this one. It's like asking, "Is it ok to be a meat eater if I don't like ham? I really want to start eating meat but I just don't like ham!"

As an aside, I was vegetarian for about 8 years before I ever had any tofu, but I do have to I admit that I quite liked it the first time I tried it!


See also: More Frequently Asked Questions about vegetarianism

How will I get enough nutrition as a vegetarian if I don't eat tofu?

I suspect however, that there's more to this question than meets the eye. Most people are a little bit concerned about getting all their needed nutrients when adopting a vegetarian diet, and particularly, protein, despite the fact that it's really quite simple to get more than enough protein on a meatless diet, and there's no need for worry. If you feel like you "have" to eat tofu, is it because you really think that you "have" to have some sort of meat substitute? If so, good news, you don't have to have a meat substitute, and, even if you don't believe me, there are plenty of meat substitutes out there besides tofu. Here's a few other meat substitutes to try:

What can vegetarians eat for protein instead of tofu?

If it's just protein that you're worried about, never fear, quinoa is here!

Quinoa, along with other whole grains, beans, nuts and leafy greens provide plenty of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians can also eat eggs and dairy products for a protein and calcium boost. Here's some more resources about protein for vegetarians:

If I'm a vegetarian who hates tofu, what else is there for me to eat?

Another possibility if you're wondering if vegetarians have to eat tofu is that you're just not sure what there is to eat as a vegetarian, other than tofu and lettuce. Well, if that's the case, let me reassure you that you'll most likely find that your repertoire of foods expands rather than shrinks as a vegetarian. Why? Because you'll be encouraged to try all kinds of exciting new foods that you'd never had before.

If you're a new vegetarian, or just thinking about it, get out to a local vegetarian restaurant and try a few things on the menu - other than tofu, of course. No vegetarian restaurants where you live? Try a Thai food restaurant and sample a variety of vegetable curries and noodle dishes or try meatless soups and stir-fries at a Chinese food restaurant, or savory Indian curries and dumplings at an Indian restaurant, and don't forget about platters filled with heaven-scented grain salads and falafel at Middle Eastern restaurants. My mouth is watering just thinking about all the possibilities! Still not sure what vegetarians eat other than tofu? Here's a few places to start learning more about vegetarian foods:

So then, I really don't have to eat tofu if I go vegetarian?

So, if you were wondering if you really have to eat tofu in order to go vegetarian, rest assured, the answer is no! However, you may want to examine what it is that you don't like about tofu. It's such a versatile food that it really deserves a second and even a third chance. And I'm not talking about eating it straight out of the carton, either.

Have you tried tofu desserts, for example? Or turned your tofu into a delicious cheese substitute? Slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce and grilled or baked to crispy perfection? What about breaded and turned into "fish sticks" or "chicken nuggets"? Here's some more resources that might just help you discover that you're a tofu-lover after all: