Vegetarian meals 101: fun dish ideas for World Vegetarian Day

The first of October marks World Vegetarian Day and we are celebrating! Whether or not you may already observe a vegetarian diet, this day is a wonderful opportunity to learn about trying (or partially attempting) a vegetarian lifestyle. This is by no means to convert your eating habits, but rather a great way to expand your horizons with vegetarian options. So get ready to learn about alternative dining styles and have a go at some flavoursome vegetarian meals.


Putting the edge on your veg

As a culinary school that loves diving into all things delicious and creative, this by no means excludes the world of vegetarianism. We are observing World Vegetarian Day, a holiday that started in 1977 on the first of October in North America as a means to educate and promote a lessened dependence on a meat centred diet.


The reason for moving away from meat products ranges for many individuals. Whether it is a lifestyle choice, an attempt to have more environmentally-conscious eating habits or reduce the pressure on the farming industry, a vegetarian diet gets practised for all sorts of reasons. Not to mention the health benefits of reducing chances of ingesting foodborne pathogens or risks of suffering from heart disease, stroke or cancer by consuming a meat-based diet. Plus, vegetarians are more likely to have a healthier fibre and antioxidant-rich diet.


While the 1000 Hills Chef School celebrates all forms of traditional meals and cooking, we also introduce vegetarian meals menu options every semester at our Classroom Cafe, prepared by our student chefs. Explore what exciting new options we have available for you!


Types of vegetarianism

A vegetarian diet is not always a cookie-cutter practice. There are many variations of vegetarians, who choose to follow the lifestyle for whatever dietary requirements or preferences. Types of vegetarian diets include:


  • Lacto-vegetarian diets excludes meat, fish, poultry and eggs and any foods that contain them. Dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter) are allowable.
  • Ovo-vegetarian diets excludes meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets excludes meat, fish and poultry, but allows for dairy products and eggs.
  • Pescatarian diets excludes meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allows fish.
  • Vegan diets excludes meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain any of these products.
  • Flexitarian diets primarily a plant-based diet, but allows meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.


Depending on the diet that is the most appealing, you can decide which recipes you would like to try. And if committing to a fully vegetarian or partially vegetarian diet is not for you, you take it in steps by trying Meat Free Mondays. This is where you can choose to opt on eating meat-free meals for one day of the week.


Fun ideas and recipes for vegetarian meals 

Mexican Bean Burrito

Nothing is more exciting than celebrating a new food option with a little fiesta of flavourful festivities. Take your tastebuds on an adventure using delicious spices and tantalising fresh ingredients — and you might declare, olé! This recipe replaces the regular burrito filler of chicken or ground beef with beans, a delicious substitute that satisfies hungry diners.



  • Packet of tortillas
  • Canned beans (kidney, black, and butter beans)
  • 1 onion (either red or brown onion) 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • Tomato (you can opt for canned diced tomato mixes in Mexican style)
  • Bell peppers (red, green, and yellow)
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Avocado
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • Sour cream 
  • Salsa
  • Grated cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese)
  • Sliced jalepeños (optional)



  1. Heat oil in a large pot on the stovetop. Chop garlic, onion and add both to the pot at low heat to slightly simmer. Chop bell peppers into cubes and slowly add to the pot. Then, add tomatoes (either chopped or canned mix).


  1. While the mixture simmers, continue to stir and then after a minute of cooking, empty cans of beans into the pot and stir regularly. Add in cumin.


  1. As the bean mixture cooks, watch for bubbling and continually stir, making sure the bottom contents do not stick to the pot. Wash and chop cilantro and set aside.


  1. After the bean mixture has thoroughly cooked, remove the pot from heat and turn off the stove.


  1. You can choose to heat your tortillas, either steam in the microwave for 30 seconds or lightly toast them over the stovetop using the pot resters — be sure to closely watch to avoid burning the tortilla. Once heated, it’s time to start building your burrito!


  1. Take a tortilla, place it on your plate. Ladle a small portion of the beans into the centre of the tortilla. Then, add sprinkles of grated cheese, slices of avocado, shredded lettuce, dollop on sour cream and salsa and add cilantro for taste (you can add jalepeños if you are up for a kick). Fold your burrito, tucking up one side of the tortilla, then tucking in left and rights sides. Hold firmly and enjoy!


Mediterranean Gnocchi (with a crunch)

Ah, the smell of aromatic pasta and veggies. It’s enough to want to pop open a bottle of wine. This recipe is divine on its own, but if you want to add additional protein and crunch to it, we love adding in a few chopped nuts. This is a great trick for many a pasta or stirfry dish to add plant-based protein and a lovely nutty flavour to the mix.



  • 400g gnocchi
  • 200g chargrilled vegetables (peppers, aubergines, artichokes and semi-dried tomatoes)
  • 2 TBSP red pesto
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • A handful of chopped almonds or pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • parmesan or pecorino (or vegetarian alternative), to serve
  • 1 TBSP oil



  1. Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the gnocchi, cook for 2 mins or until it rises to the surface. Watch the pot closely.


  1. While gnocchi cooks, in a separate pan, pour oil and cook vegetables, adding in optional nuts to brown. Remove mixture from heat once browned.


  1. Return to the pot of gnocchi drain and tip gnocchi back into the pot with a splash of the reserved cooking water. Drizzle with oil to stop gnocchi from sticking to each other.


  1. Then, add the vegetables, red pesto and basil leaves. 


  1. Serve with shavings of Parmesan or pecorino (or vegetarian alternative).


Vietnamese Rice Wraps

Another twist on a wrapped up favourite, this dish packs a punch of freshness and flavour. This is a great option for hot summery nights with its fresh crisp ingredients. You can choose to substitute the tofu with shrimp if you want to try a pescetarian twist to the recipe.


  • A packet of rice wraps
  • A shallow dish of water
  • Grated carrot
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Tofu
  • Bean sprouts
  • Mint leaves
Vietnamese dipping sauce 
  • 1 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TBSP Hoisin sauce
  • 1 ½ TBSP white vinegar (or lime juice) 
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli (or squirt of Sweet Chilli Sauce)



  1. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients. Stir and then heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until well combined and smooth. Set aside to cool.


  1. Prepare raw ingredients. Wash all ingredients thoroughly, then grate or chop vegetables as needed. Place all ingredients in different serving bowls or a platter.


  1. Next, cook tofu. Preheat oven to 190°C and wrap tofu in a kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture. Then, cube tofu.


  1. Sauté cubed tofu in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Finish baking the tofu in the oven for about 15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.


  1. Once the tofu is cooked, prepare your table for serving. Have plates, the dish of water, vegetables and sauce ready to start building your Vietnamese rice wraps. 


  1. To begin the process, submerge your rice wrap in the dish of water and place it on your plate. It will remain crisp for a minute, but will slowly soften with the moisture. While it softens, place a few pieces of tofu, veggies and sprinkle on sprouts and a mint leaf. Then, start tightly tucking in the now flexible wrap around the contents of the mixture, tucking in left and right sides of the wrap, then rolling the top down. The wrap will be sticky and secure the wrap contents well. Then, dip into the Vietnamese dipping sauce and enjoy! Repeat to make as many wraps to your heart’s content.


V is vegetarian meals (very tasty ones)

We hope you enjoy exploring the world of vegetarian meals and dining. If you are interested in pursuing a career in creative and alternative cooking, be sure to contact us to apply for our next academic year.