Friday, February 13, 2015

Reflections on Weekday Vegetarianism + Leaning Plant-Based

Spicy stir fry with magical Sambal and Harvest Grains from Trader Joe's

A couple weekends ago while grocery shopping, I passed by a man with his family. I smiled at him because I had passed him a couple times already. I saw him look at my basket and say to his family, "Puras verduras!" Just vegetables! And last weekend a cashier at Raley's commented on the Sambal I was buying (it's a delicious Asian hot sauce), which prompted the woman in line behind me to look at what we were buying and say, "I want to come to your house for dinner!"

I've come a long way since my days of eating off the dollar menu at Wendy's in college.

About three years ago, I became a weekday vegetarian. It worked well for me, and I'd encourage people to try it if they want to try vegetarianism but still have some flexibility. In the beginning, I did crave meat and ate it about once a week. When I thought about it, what I was craving more than anything else was the convenience of throwing a chunk of meat in the slow cooker and calling it dinner. It took some time to develop a vegetarian repertoire that didn't bore me or leave me starving. I also missed salt (easily fixed by adding salt to my meals sometimes).

Now, I'm looking more towards a plant-based diet (basically vegan). I feel better when I stick to fresh produce and whole grains. Now that I'm well into my 30s, I'm starting to think seriously about not dying at a young age. It sounds morbid, but actually, I just want to be around for a long time. If I can improve my day-to-day health and extend my life by eating a ton of vegetables every day, it's worth it. And I like vegetables. And I don't like pollution or animal cruelty. It's good all around.

I'm not ready to commit 100%--maybe closer to 90%. Basically, I don't think consuming a little bit of meat or animal products is terrible. The real food-related problems in our culture are the result of mass production/mass consumption, so I think it's most important to avoid habits that contribute to those underlying issues. With that said, I happily still "cheat" sometimes, but it's increasingly rare and it's mostly just to make my life a little easier. One day I might strive for 100%, but that day is not today.

I've found that even in this day and age, people are rather perplexed about what vegetarians and vegans eat. If you're curious, or if you're looking for ways to cut back on your meat intake, here's what I've been cooking pretty frequently (I'm happy to share recipes):

potato and lentil soup
stir fry (pictured above)
roasted vegetables with turmeric and curry
walnut pesto pasta
curry + coconut milk potatoes with vegetables
pumpkin or butternut squash soup
black bean chili
potato and spinach tacos

I've been using recipes from Crazy Sexy Kitchen and Isa Does It and experimenting on my own. I'm actually not very adventurous with my cooking and eating habits, so if I can manage a mostly plant-based diet, then you know it can't be all that difficult :) 


Daisy @ Simplicity Relished said...

I love eating plant-based, but we're not strict about it either! We mostly eat vegetarian throughout the week for budgeting purposes-- and then we'll have the occasional grassfed beef or pastured chicken. :)

<3 Daisy
Simplicity Relished

Bearette said...

Curious about the curry & coconut milk potatoes with vegetables, and the potato & spinach tacos. (I love potatoes, can you tell?) I found it relatively easy to give up meat (chicken is the only thing I miss sometimes, and there are some pretty good substitutes). I do find it near impossible to give up dairy, since I love cheese (though I prefer soy milk to dairy). But I applaud vegans :)

Domestic Kate said...

Daisy, thanks for stopping by to comment! Vegetarian eating is definitely cheaper, especially if you stick to things like beans and rice.

Bearette, the curry recipe came from a vegetarian Korma dish on allrecipes where the original recipe didn't call for coconut milk, but all the commenters insisted that's how you need to make it. I'll try to post a recipe soon! The potato tacos were inspired by this recipe, although I saute in oil and I add a little jalapeƱo.

Bearette said...