In a previous lifetime I worked part-time for a small, independently-run health food store. I look back upon these few years fondly, for it was during these snippets of time that I met many interesting folks (some of them were kind of nutty, but mostly in the fun ways) and I had immediate access to a lot of things I otherwise might have never known about. It was at this point in my timeline that I spent a year as a vegetarian.
Why only a year? I suppose, as lame as this reason is, I got bored. I missed eating sushi and hamburgers and pepperoni pizza. In analyzing this, though, I realize that during this flesh-free year, I really cleaned up my eating habits. There’s something about eating meat that gives me license to make poor eating choices; it’s (somehow, at least for me) the gateway drug to eating Sour Patch kids for breakfast and Doritos for dinner every day. However, while making vegetarian choices I grew used to broadening my palate to include new foods – I suppose I was trying to make up for the things I was not eating – and in doing so I became more conscious of the things I was putting in my body.
I lost weight and I felt really good. Like, good all the time. No aches or pains or creaks like I have now, that’s for sure. Then again, that was seven years ago -I was also younger and so I am sure that’s got something to do with it too. I won’t say that I felt morally superior to anyone; I was not doing it for any ethical reasons so that doesn’t factor in.
Nowadays I probably eat a 50% vegetarian diet. And to be frank, cooking with meat kind of grosses me out, anyway. I always feel like it is a dangerous undertaking, that there’s a chance I might inadvertently murder someone with something undercooked or tainted by disease. Plus, there’s something really cathartic about chopping all of those vegetables.
If you invite me over for dinner though, I will happily eat your roast chicken or your pork tenderloin or your baked salmon or your barbecued spare ribs. Just don’t serve me pot roast. Bleeech.
In preparing vegetarian meals on and off over the better part of the last decade, I have discovered/adapted/improvised a few favorites, which I’ve showcased at the top of the page, with links to the recipes, if applicable. Don’t judge by the photos though, as some of the tastiest dishes made for some very lackluster imagery (lentil loaf, you are kind of hideous.)
Top row: 1. Jamie Oliver’s Mothership tomato salad & eggs baked in avocados & rosemary bread 2. roasted cauliflower and vegan alfredo sauce over spaghetti squash 3. veggie and black bean burgers 4. black beans over cauliflower rice with avocado
Bottom row: 1. zucchini noodles with “meat”balls and marinara sauce 2. walnut lentil loaf 3. baby lima beans in chipotle broth 4. vegetable broth
That vegetable broth? I made 20,000 gallons it to incorporate into the seitan “ribs” that I was planning for dinner this weekend, and only later did I find out that the seitan recipe I remembered from way back when only needed a scant, amount, if any. I ended up using the rest of it as a base for veggie chili and I’m not sure if it’s due to the inclusion of home made broth, but it turned out quite good and has been perfect for this rare winter weather we are having. And by that, I mean…it’s in the 50s. My apologies, Northern Friends. I will stop complaining now.
Are you a part-time plant eater? A full time herbivore? What are some of your favorite dishes& meals, if you are so inclined to share? Do you find that eating a mainly plant based diet has made a difference for you, either physically or otherwise?
WEIGHT LOSS FOR WEIRDOS UPDATE
Well. It’s been a few months, hasn’t it? I, like many others, succumbed to the excess and hedonism of the holidays and on top of that there was a fair bit (and by that I mean non-stop) sadness eating thanks to Dead Mom Anniversaries. When I finally got the courage to weigh myself again in January, I found that in that short span of time I gained back half of the weight I’d lost. You’d think that would have been some sort of motivation to rally but sadly it that has not been the case because my brain is backwards and slow and apparently does not work that way. I did, however, get a gym membership this weekend. What! I know! I can’t believe it either, I swore I would never be one of those people who go to the gym. (“Those people”? I don’t know what I mean by that. Those fit, well-disciplined people? Yeah, who wants that for themselves.) And also, the first thing I did after joining a gym is sit down and write a poem so maybe I need to figure out how gyms actually work.