My aspiration for 2013 is to go vegetarian.
My husband moved to Ohio in October for a job opportunity, and I sort of just settled into a primarily vegetarian lifestyle, mostly by accident. My husband is an avowed and unapologetic carnivore. He is a real meat-and-potatoes-but-hold-the-potatoes kind of guy. I do the cooking in our house, so if I was making steak, it was easier to cook myself one as well, rather than make two separate meals. But, eating at a restaurant was different – if there was a tasty-sounding vegetarian option on the menu, more often than not that’s what I would order. I guess I’m just not in love with meat, and prefer just eating vegetables and grains. Dropping the red meat was actually insanely easy (though, occasionally, I have a craving), as was foregoing pork…but eliminating chicken is proving to be a little harder to manage. Chicken so often just doesn’t seem like meat, you know? And it’s so versatile. But, I’m trying hard to stick with vegetarianism.
I know there are lots of ways to enjoy meat while still reducing your environmental impact and also to reduce animal cruelty, but I just keep thinking about the animals, and I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with knowing that a living, breathing creature has to die so I can enjoy a hamburger or a pulled pork sandwich. It makes me want to cry, actually.
I understand that there are people who advocate for humane slaughter, and I completely support their position. If you’re going to kill an animal to feed yourself and your family, then of course it should be raised and killed in the most humane and kind manner. I love animals. I get it. But, my ideal choice is to just not be part of that food chain. I know my ideal choice is not a popular one, but it is my choice.
Why do I say “ideal choice”? Because I’m having a hard time divorcing myself completely from the carnivorous life. I do like hamburgers, and I do love me a pulled pork sandwich. Sometimes I just have to forget their origins. But I don’t want it to be this way. I don’t want to be conflicted anymore. So, I’m transitioning myself from an omnivore into a mostly vegetarian, with an occasional side of guilt. I actually began the transition in October, and I’ve had pretty decent success so far. I still do crave fast food cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches occasionally, though.
I have found that it’s difficult – but not impossible – to get an adequate supply of protein. I’ve been eating quinoa, yogurt, and lots and lots of beans. Guess it’s a good thing I’m living alone.
I’ve also been avoiding processed foods in general – I dropped HFCS from my diet long ago, and I’m no longer eating processed breads or other baked goods. In 2012, I launched a Bread Challenge, wherein I baked a different bread recipe every week and shared the results. I lost the challenge (only made it 15 weeks or so), but what I gained was a knowledge that making your own bread is actually easy and fun (time-consuming, but easy). There really is no need for me to go back to grocery-store bread – I even learned how to make pita bread and naan (my favorite).
Things I’ve been enjoying:
- Black beans
- Quorn (mycoprotein meat replacer)
- Home Baked Breads
- Asian foods – curries, soups, stir-frys
Things I am less good about dropping: Diet Pepsi.
I am feeling much better in general. I haven’t lost any weight as of yet (a side benefit I was really hoping for), but my body feels less bloated, and my mind feels less foggy. And I can go to Mars, now – I hear you have to be a vegetarian if you want to live there.
Here’s one of my recent favorite recipes! Makes a great lunch the next day, too. Tip: fish sauce is a crucial ingredient; don’t leave it out!
RECIPE: THAI RED VEGETABLE CURRY
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 can light coconut Milk
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish Sauce
- 1 pound tofu or meat replacement, cut in bite-size pieces (if desired; if not, add more veggies)
- 3 cups assorted cut-up vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, sugar snap peas
- 2 tablespoons julienne-cut fresh basil
- Cooked jasmine rice
Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add curry paste; stir fry 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until fragrant. Add coconut milk and chicken stock; bring to simmer on medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar and fish sauce until well blended.
Stir in vegetables; simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp. Remove from heat. Stir in basil.
Serve with cooked jasmine rice.