I’ve mentioned a few times on the blog that our family is vegetarian. In this day and age, avoiding meat is not exactly unusual. I have noticed though, that our town in southwest Kansas, completely surrounded by cattle feedlots, is not exactly a mecca for peaceful eating choices. The prevailing attitude seems to be “EAT BEEF!” In fact, I often see plaques on people’s vehicles that say just that. You can also see this gem from our block.
Originally, my reason for giving up meat was that I didn’t like it much and I didn’t see any purpose to eating meat if it was not necessary. I began to read about the meat industry, the factory farming, and its impact on the animals and environment. I was shocked that the living conditions of animals in factory farms were far worse than I could have imagined, the methods of killing the animals were far from humane (if humane killing is a concept that even makes sense in the first place,) and the processing procedures weren’t sanitary. Additionally, when I realized exactly how much grain and water were used to feed farm animals, it was clear that eating animals was anything from environmentally efficient when the grain could be used to feed humans instead of bred animals. I think we all know that wasting water is not the thing to do. It made sense to intentionally reduce my dependency on the meat industry, especially commercially produced meats. Once Liesbeth and I began sharing an apartment and cooking meals together, it was natural that she would start to eat the way I did.
Liesbeth typically has to pack her own lunch when attending catered events for her work or her all-day graduate seminars because no one around here would even think to provide any meatless options- the menu is typically brisket, green beans with bacon, and mashed potatoes with gravy. When people find out we’re vegetarian, they sometimes wonder what we DO eat if we DON’T eat meat. For me it’s a no-brainer. I’ve been a vegetarian for 8 years and I do not feel restricted whatsoever. Once you get past the mental attitude that a meal must revolve around a piece of animal flesh, you can begin to realize that the eating choices are plentiful.
I’ve began keeping lists of our meals because I get the “what do you eat?” question on occasion and I like to have a good answer. I am terrible at thinking of things off the top of my head! A few days ago I went to the grocery store and picked up a few groceries to round out meals for the next few weeks. Incidentally, in addition to being vegetarian, most of our meals are vegan- which means they do not contain any animal products (such as eggs or dairy) at all. This further reduces our dependence on the meat industry. Vegan cooking happens to be pretty darned cheap if you know how to do it right (read: no processed vegan fake-meat products.) Here is what I plan on cooking for dinners:
- Cabbage and potato soup (I use vegetable broth and add kidney beans to the recipe)
- Pho with mushrooms and tofu
- Cheese grits and turnip greens
- Quinoa spring salad
- Tofu vegetable fried rice
- Spinach tofu-quiche (based on this recipe)
- Pesto pasta and cannellini bean puree
- Chickpea and carrot tagine over couscous
- Vegan cream of broccoli soup
- Baked potatoes with nutritional yeast gravy, green beans
- TVP hamburger helper, peas
I think this gives a pretty accurate idea of what types of food we eat on a regular basis. I enjoy being creative in the kitchen and finding new recipes to try, so our menus are always changing. Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe to share?