QV and Me

9 09 2010

I’ve recently ventured into the world of quasi-vegetarianism (QV).  I say quasi because I am not a strict vegetarian by any means; I’ve simply come to the conclusion that meat is over-rated.  I know many, many people would disagree with this statement but I think the main reason why most are so vehemently opposed to going “veg” is because they haven’t had the pleasure of partaking in a really excellent, meat-free meal.

Bugs Bunny - VEGETARIAN

Not too long ago, vegetarian meant bland, boring, and over-cooked; a mushy and typically unpleasant selection of plants with no flavour and, obviously, no fun.  But with the recent craze related to organic, locally grown produce, people are slowly discovering the benefits of eating less meat.  This is a new-ish concept for North American culture but is an old world custom on other parts of our planet.  In fact, some of the healthiest, most long-lived cultures in the world are vegetarian.  In a nutshell (pun intended since nuts are a good source of protein) there seems to be a proven benefit to eating only plants.  Ok, you may go ahead and roll your eyes now.

Anne Hathaway - VEGETARIAN

When I decided to become a QV, the goal was not necessarily longevity or even better health, but rather the fact that not eating meat was more affordable.  I was living alone at the time and cooking for one.  I was also working a mediocre job while paying for rent as well as all the fantastic expenses that come with living in ones’ own apartment.  I noticed that I would only eat cold cuts once in a while for lunch and occasionally have some ground turkey in my lasagna but I never really “craved” meat.  I was also becoming more and more adept in the kitchen so one way of challenging myself was to undertake a new style of cooking.  Enter the” Veganomicon”: a gift from a fellow foodie who was also experimenting with reduced meat intake.  A vegan cookbook was something I had never seen before.  As I rifled through the pages of recipes, I couldn’t understand how one could bake a cake without milk or eggs, or make a nutritionally balanced meal with no butter, no fish, no cheese – basically, no anything related to animals!  But I decided to accept the challenge, even though I was pretty sure that going all the way (ie: vegan) was not something I wanted to do.  I picked something easy at first – Carrot and Curry Dip (delish!) and then made something semi-complex (Mushroom Pate; could’ve fooled me!).  Finally, I tried Non-crab Crab Cakes.  These were more challenging since I couldn’t get them to hold together in the frying pan but they were absolutely scrumptious.

Linda and Paul McCartney - VEGAN

Pleasantly surprised with the results, I threw a dinner party and served vegetarian/vegan food.  No one seemed to mind; the food disappeared along with the wine.  I had friends over for dinner another night and no one complained; plates were licked clean and my guests begged for second helpings.  So, when I moved back home to start saving for my own place instead of spending on rent, I decided to test my new cooking skills on my Eastern European, pork-loving family.  At first, there was resistance, but only because of the concept.  No one found anything wrong with the actual taste of the food.  In fact, I got rave reviews.  All of sudden, cooking three vegetarian meals a week was no big deal.  It started with Black Bean Burritos which evolved into Lentil Soup, which transpired into Tofu Stir Fry, which became Vegan Banana Bread, which eventually led to my piece de resistance: Non-Chicken Pot Pie (with a home-made crust).  No one even noticed the meat was missing and it was ridiculously amazing (thank you, Martha!).

Common - VEGETARIAN

One year later, this process is still going strong.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I actually make up my own vegetarian recipes.  I’ve also devised ways by which to include meat with meals but in a way that I can avoid eating it myself (this usually means throwing in a can of beans amongst the meat, cutting up animal protein in ridiculously large pieces, and cooking meals where veg are the stars of the show and meat takes a backseat.  For example: creamy mashed potatoes with roasted cauliflower, caramelized brussel sprouts, a fresh, multi-vegetational salad and…oh yeah, roast.  I love this way of eating and it makes my body feel lighter, happier and healthier.  Now if only I could devise a similar plan for pastries and chocolate!

Random Hot Man 😛 - VEGETARIAN

So there’s my plug for vegetarianism/quasi-vegetarianism.  Discuss  🙂

Pictures courtesy of all kinds of internet websites.