Monday, May 9, 2016


I feel like while I was growing up, so many of my peers went through a phase where they were "vegetarian". I remember my sister decided she was a vegetarian when she was in middle school. I mostly think it was so she didn't have to eat some of the dinners my mom prepared so she could eat bagels and peanut-butter instead (but only she knows the truth*). It lasted a few months, but then it was chicken tenders day at our sleep-away camp, and her vegetarian streak was over. (Camp food is notoriously terrible, and the chicken tenders were definitely the only semi-decent meal that our camp served.) I had a friend in 5th grade who decided she was a vegetarian after we saw a fully cooked rabbit at an Italian restaurant. I did feel bad for the rabbit, but not enough that I wanted to end my relationship with eating meat.

For some reason, I never had the urge to make the leap into vegetarianism. I enjoy a good burger. Nothing beats a nice meat and cheese plate. And don't get me started on good BBQ--mmmmm. I never judged my friends or family for deciding not to eat meat--although I definitely know a few people who get reaalllllly annoyed by vegans/vegetarians. I always hear stories about dinner parties gone horribly because a guest was vegan or vegetarian and requested a different meal, yada yada. Rule of thumb--if you're inviting people over for a meal, just ask them what they can't or won't eat, and plan the menu accordingly. NBD.

Recently, however, I have begun to crave meat less. I don't know why or how it happened, but I just haven't felt like eating it. Maybe it's this hippie, California lifestyle that I've adjusted to! Still, there are times when we are out (for example, a great BBQ restaurant or a top-notch burger place) when I will order meat. Family events/holidays can be difficult, so I eat meat there too.

A lot people become vegans or vegetarians for conscious reasons--mainly animal rights. Don't get me wrong, I love animals. But I don't feel that bad when I occasionally have meat. When I do prepare meat dishes, I try to follow the USDA guidelines to make sure that the meat is organic, free-range and hormone-free. Still, I think my main motivation for eating less meat is because I generally just feel better when I don't eat it as much. I have more energy and don't feel as bloated as I did when I was eating more meat.

I was trying to figure out what to call myself. Because I'm not a vegetarian. I used to refer to myself as a "nocturnal carnivore". Since college, I have rarely eaten meat in the day-time. Fortunately, my husband is a quasi-adventurous eater, so I often prepare dishes with tofu or beans as the main protein at home. A couple of times a week, I will make fish or chicken for dinner at home. My husband and I typically eat dinner at home 5-6 days out of the week (hooray for saving $$$). I have made a decision that the majority of the dinners I make will be meatless. I try to have 3 days a week (at least) that are meatless.

Finally, I figured out what I am called. I am a "flexitarian"-- aka a flexible vegetarian. I am eating mostly plant-based foods, but will enjoy meat and fish occasionally. There's even a book about it!

Who knows how long this will last--it may be fleeting like my sister's middle school vegetarianism. But I do feel like this is a lifestyle I could get on board with. It isn't restrictive, and I feel healthier. Here are a few of my favorite meatless recipes that we have been enjoying at home:

1. Black Bean Burgers . I usually make a big salad and roasted potatoes on the side.

2. Tofu Tikka Masala is super easy! Saute tofu dusted with a little flour in an oiled pan for a few minutes until browned. Add store-bought tikka masala sauce, a can of drained chickpeas, and frozen chopped spinach or frozen peas. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Enjoy with basmati rice!

3. Potato gnocchi. I add some jarred sun-dried tomatoes (the oil in the jar adds more flavor), and saute some mushrooms and spinach to add in as well. I like great northern beans (white beans) in mine, but my husband doesn't like them so I usually just put them on the side for myself.

4. Tofu orange chicken is a favorite of my husband. Saute tofu dusted with corn starch for a few minutes until browned. Meanwhile, mix together 2/3 cup orange marmalade, 2/3 cup barbecue sauce, 4 TBSP soy sauce, and 2 TBSP ginger. Add mixture to browned tofu and stir. Add a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with brown rice!

I hope you get a chance to try some of these recipes. They are really really yummy!

* Disclaimer: After speaking with my sister, she claims that she became a vegetarian because she felt bad for a little lamb she saw on a trip to a farm.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© City Teacher Country Teacher. Powered by