Those who know me know that I adore meat. I used to eat it three times a day. I adore milk. When I could drink all the milk I wanted, I think I was drinking a half gallon every day. To me, milk is the greatest liquid in the universe, and I would drink it all day if I could.
However, in the last few years I've become aware of the treatment of animals in factory farms (something that has undergone a good deal of change in the last 20 years), and I no longer think it's okay to eat meat, unless you're sure it got to you by ethical means (this is ignoring the health and environmental benefits of not eating (or not eating so much) meat).
One thing I've done is implement my meat offset program, which is going pretty well (although I have not paid for all the meat I ate on my recent road trip). However, I'm trying to save money, and my offsets are expensive ($1 per egg, $2 for a thin hamburger patty), so I'm just trying to cut down on meat. And I have to say that getting to not eating meat is onerous.
I'm out of ideas for a good breakfast. I used to eat two eggs every morning.* This was a great discovery for me, because I found that if I ate protein for breakfast, I would not be famished by 10:30am. Now I'm eating steel-cut oats for breakfast, which are pretty good, but certainly not delicious without way too much brown sugar. And I'm getting sick of it. What am I supposed to eat that's not pure carbohydrates? (My new year's resolution was to give up breakfast cereal for a year; that's not making it easier.)
Lunches and dinners are getting to be a problem too. I have a few vegetarian meals that I like, but I'm afraid that in a few months I'll get sick of them and there will be nothing left to eat. Even now, sometimes I'm hungry, and I'll go to the fridge, look in, find nothing that looks appetizing, and just go back to typing, hungry. And sometimes typing "hungry."
Hungry hungry hungry hungry.
So what am I eating?
- Vegetables in curry. The curry's not vegan, but one jar lasts me about 10 meals, so it's a small offset. Curry also has the amazing ability to make brown rice and cauliflower palatable. It's a miracle!
- Vegetables and hummus.
- Pasta with olive oil, garlic, capers, and sautéed mushrooms. Starchy, but good in a pinch.
- Tuscan white beans with sage. The recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Best Recipes Cookbook (p230) is fabulous (I've figured out how to make it pretty well in a slow cooker, though).
- Stir-fried Tofu and vegetables
- Ramen with spinach. I eat this almost every day for a snack, or with breakfast.
It's not a huge selection.
Luckily, my milk problem is mostly solved. The local no-name brand of chocolate soy milk tastes enough like chocolate milk to satisfy me. I go through a lot of it. Now I only drink milk if I'm having chocolate cookies or cake. We keep it in the house, though, for coffee and for scrambled eggs.
I need more delicious vegetarian meals, but I'm not sure where to find them. I'm aware that there are millions of vegetarian meals online, but I want particularly delicious ones. And I don't want vegetarian imitations of delicious meaty dishes. They are just disappointing.
A friend of mine was a vegan chef and cooked elaborate meals at her house. I not only didn't like the food, but I got a stomach ache later. And she was considered to be excellent at what she did by the other people there.
* I imagine people saying to themselves "but vegetarians can eat eggs!" If you're cutting down on meat for ethical reasons, you really need to cut down on anything from animals, including milk (my favorite drink), cheese (my favorite cheese), yogurt, eggs, and fish. That is, be vegan. I mean, come on, do people really think dairy cows are any better treated than beef cows? I find it kind of baffling that in this culture you can get away with calling yourself a vegetarian and still eat eggs, cheese, milk, and fish.** To me, it's like going to a culture where a person will claim he or she is faithful to his or her spouse, but will let oneself get to third base with strangers met in bars.
** Fish are, in my opinion, ethically treated, but the decimation of our oceans due to overfishing is such an enormous problem, I really hate eating non-sustainable seafood. So the environmental reason for vegetarianism kicks in here. For hope, see this great TED talk about ocean reserves:
Pictured: Miso soup, a vegan dish I actually adore.