Meatless Monday – So You’re Thinking of Going Veg?

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Today’s Meatless Monday post is brought to you by the fine folk at Weal Food for Vegetarian Awareness Month.

If you’re thinking of going veg, you may be trolling the internet for ways to cut meat out of your diet. Look no further. Here are some tips to help get you started.

  • Quitting cold turkey (mandatory pun) may meet with failure rather than success so go slow. Gradually cut out meat in the following order: red meat, poultry, pig, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey and meat products (i.e. gelatin, rennet, bone char sugar, V8 etc.) This could take days, months or even years. Start with Meatless Monday and build up to meatless everyday.
  • Be open to new tastes and be patient with the process. Tofu steak is never going to taste the same as the real thing and the saying “it tastes just like chicken” only applies to other animals, not meat substitutes.
    It’s often been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit so give it time and give yourself a break if you fall off the wagon.
  • To be a healthy vegetarian remove most processed food from your diet. In the presence of (nutritional) health is the absence of unnatural food cravings. Meat, shmeat-you won’t miss a thing. And if you do, there are tricks to satisfy your animal-trained palate.
  • Prepare your own food. Recipes abound on the internet and there are many vegetarian/vegan restaurants that do tasty meals (if you’re lucky to have some in your area). And speaking of which…
  • Good cookbooks to get are the Moosewood series and Laurel’s Kitchen. Both offer straight-forward recipes that are easy to follow with ingredients commonly found in many grocery stores. Laurel’s Kitchen also provides the low-down on a vegetarian diet as well as ingredient and nutritional information.
  • If in doubt, consult ‘cultural’ cuisine. Dishes from the Middle East, India, Ethiopia, Italy, Greece and Mexico do vegetarian food combining very well.
  • Vegetarianism is a spectrum from lacto-ovo to vegan. The journey to a plant-based diet is unique to each individual and you will settle on a diet that works for you. You may even decide that you’d rather be flexitarian and as long as you are occasionally choosing organic meats from ethical farmers than that’s o.k. – for you.
  • Make sure every meal contains protein, fat and fibre for satiety, that feeling of fullness and appetite satisfaction. Meat shmeat-you won’t miss a thing.
  • Make sure half of your plate is full of vegetables. Fill the rest with good grains and some protein.
  • Eat a variety of food to ensure you extract the myriad of nutrients that a plant-based diet contains.

And finally, for motivation, keep in mind the good parts of a plant-based diet; it imparts benefits to your health and less detriment to the environment. Bon Vegetit!

Vegetarianism and the ‘R’ Word

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St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals.

There are many reasons people go vegetarian: health, personal preference, economy, environment, etc. Spiritual practice is also a reason why many people world-wide have traditionally abstained from eating meat.

Religions of both the East and the West have long denounced the consumption of flesh. Compassion, kindness to creatures and respect for nature that God, Allah, Jah, Vishnu, etc. created seems to be at the heart of why some religions forbid the eating of certain meat.

In Hindu India the cow is sacred and the precept of ahisma (nonviolence) would suggest kindness to living creatures.

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
~Mahatma Ghandi~

Jainism and Buddhism, other religions in India, also espouse the virtues of practising kindness to living creatures. Principles of the Chinese religion Taoism (of yin/yang fame) suggest the merits of a vegetarian diet.

In both Judaic and Islamic tradition the concepts of kosher and halal, respectively, suggest humane ways in which animals should be treated. Though a vegetarian diet is not a requirement for followers of these Abrahamic religions, the consumption of pork is forbidden.

In the Christian realm, the Seventh Day Adventists actively promote a vegetarian diet while orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt fast from eating meat for approximately two-thirds of the calendar year.

The Rastafari tradition also does not include meat or shellfish in their diet, though some practitioners do eat fish.

This post has been brought to you by the kind folk at Weal Food for Vegetarian Awareness Month.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2013

Photo by Kimberley (c)2013

A sample of some Famous Vegetarians

Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians

Meatless Monday – “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair…”

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parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
~Simon & Garfunkel song lyrics~

The often portrayed image of a Canadian Thanksgiving is that of a family sat around the dinner table stuffing themselves silly on all manner of animal product: dairy, egg, poultry, giblets, eww! I’ll stop right there. These days you never know who you might expect at the dinner table. When a meal turns meatless it need not be tasteless. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and this Meatless Monday post will profile some key ingredients that can make any meatless meal healthy and deliciously memorable for your  guests’ taste buds.

Thanksgiving is considered a celebration of the bounty of the harvest and a time to give thanks for all that we have. In Canada this holiday falls on the second Monday in October. In the US it is celebrated in November with the pilgrims being credited for inventing this occasion. There are a few theories of how Thanksgiving came to be in Canada: part European tradition, part end of war celebration and part thankfulness on an expedition.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are herbs mostly native to the Mediterranean. They are easily found in grocery stores and can dress up any savoury feast with the smells and tastes reminiscent of the changing seasons. They go well in dressing, nut roast, lentil loaf, mashed potatoes, soup, vegetarian gravy and with roast vegetables, rice, seitan and tofu. These herbs also contain nutrients, antioxidants and can help impart a healthy effect through your food.  In aromatherapy, the essential oils obtained from these plants have chemical constituents with medicinal properties some of which also carry over into culinary application.
All health benefit links below are from the website The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Parsley
Parsley contains oxidant-fighting flavonoids and vitamins C and A. Chlorophyll, a green pigment in the plant, can also help freshen breath.
Health benefits of parsley

Sage
Sage is said to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and a memory booster. See link below for synopsis on some sage studies.
Health benefits of sage

Rosemary
Rosemary helps with digestion, circulation and immunity. And it tastes great with mashed potatoes.
Health benefits of rosemary

Thyme
Thyme can help with respiratory ailments such as coughs and bronchitis. It has been tested for antimicrobial and antioxidant action. Thymol, the main constituent, is also considered antiseptic.
Health benefits of thyme

Spice tips:

  • Buy small amounts of herbs and use them up within a few months. Spices that stay on the shelf too long lose their efficacy and taste.
  • When using dried herbs, crush them with your fingers to release the oil. This is where the flavour is concentrated.
  • To extract the most flavour, add the crushed herbs to the onion and garlic after lightly cooking them.
  • Make sure there is some cooking oil involved in your food prep. It will act as a carrier to bring the oils and flavour of the herb to the rest of the food ingredients.
  • Dry herbs are far more concentrated than fresh so use small amounts of dry or large amounts of fresh for equivalent potency.

dressing vs. stuffing
Dressing is cooked alongside the bird while stuffing is cooked inside of it.
So what do vegetarians/vegans call this savoury bread-based dish when there is no bird?

 

 

No Time No Problem

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Vegetarian awareness month is about educating the non-vegetarians and the newly meatless on just what a vegetarian diet is all about-beyond the hype and the rumours. One misconception is that being vegetarian is a lot of work. While some planning is required to ensure a balanced diet (true also for non-vegetarian diets), preparing a healthy vegetarian meal need not be an arduous task. There are a number of familiar meals that are naturally vegetarian:

  • mac and cheese
  • hummus and pita
  • beans and rice
  • pizza
  • lasagna
  • spaghetti and tomato sauce

The cheese in these can be substituted with a non-dairy alternative to make the meal vegan. Adding a generous amount of vegetables can up the nutritional ante of these meals while the combination of a grain and legume make for a complete protein.

Plant-based protein is well-known for being incomplete i.e. a single source does not usually contain the full complement of nine essential amino acids.

The internet abounds with quick and easy vegetarian recipes and many companies are now offering pre-made meatless meals. Though high in sodium (average of 20% per serving), Amy’s Kitchen has a line of delicious and well-thought out frozen meals.

Whether you have the time or inclination, vegetarian meals can be right at your finger-lickin’ tips.

 

Meatless Monday – Was is Das?

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Forget Oktoberfest and wienerschnitzel! I am declaring the period of October 1 to November 1 October Feast! It’s this time of year that I engage in pumpkin celebration and skeleton appreciation.

Autumn in the northern hemisphere is harvest time and the cornucopia is overflowing with pumpkins! Though popular as a Hallowe’en icon, pumpkin is also nutritionally viable. It contains high amounts of vitamin A along with other antioxidants, B vitamins and some minerals (e.g. calcium and potassium). It is high fibre, low in calories and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Besides its sweet application in pie, cakes, cookies, muffins and scones, pumpkin can also add some colour and flavour to a savoury dish. This Meatless Monday we offer some suggestions on celebrating pumpkin this October Feast!

  • Add diced pumpkin to vegetarian chili or Moroccan stew.
  • Make a veggie layer sandwich using sliced pumpkin, zucchini and red pepper. Cheese, vegan or vegetarian, optional.
  • Purée some butternut squash and pumpkin and add to your mac and cheese sauce.
  • Make some dressing with pumpkin purée, bread cubes and sage.
  • Viva pumpkin ravioli!
  • Pumpkin soup or sheppard’s pie featuring this orange squash as the star.
  • Smashed pumpkin instead of mashed potatoes makes for a colourful side dish for your vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving feast.
  • Add pumpkin seeds to your salad for a protein crunch. Use pumpkin oil to make the salad dressing. (Avoid cooking with pumpkin oil to preserve its integrity.)
  • Sourdough bread made with pumpkin purée (pictured below). It goes well with pecan butter.

    Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

    Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links
Some pumpkin recipes from WebMD
Pumpkin nutrition facts

 

It’s Official!

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It is October 1st World Vegetarian Day and the official launch of vegetarian awareness month. We will have periodic posts in the following weeks on all thing vegetarian. In the meantime, here are some things you can start doing now to mark this occasion:

  • Go meatless every Monday in October
  • Issue a veg challenge for yourself or others. Take a pledge to go meat-free for a few days, a few weeks or the entire month
  • Dine at a veg restaurant.
  • Host or participate in a vegetarian potluck.
  • Watch a documentary film that promotes a vegetarian diet.
    e.g. Food Inc, The Ghosts in Our Machines, The China Study, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, A Cow at My Table

 Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci, creator of the Mona Lisa, used to buy caged animals at the market just to set them free.

September 26th was Hug a Vegan Day. Did you?

Links
Vegetarian documentary film list (from a Google Search)
World Vegetarian Day
International Vegetarian Union

Meatless Monday – Not Just for Mondays Anymore

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Mark your calendars! World Vegetarian Day is coming October 1st and it ushers in vegetarian awareness month. We begin the awareness early for this Meatless Monday post.

Recent advisories and predictions suggest that everyday will be meatless if current trends continue.

A population explosion and demand for meat and dairy has scientists, government advisers and the UN encouraging people to adopt a vegetarian diet. Meat and dairy production are resource extensive using copious amounts of land and water. Climate change and the many mouths to feed around the world seems to suggest that this type of food production is unsustainable. In order to proactively prevent food shortages experts have proposed a vegetarian diet with a prediction that the world’s people will be vegetarian by the year 2050.*

Proponents of a vegetarian/vegan diet have cited sustainable plant-based farming as one of the many benefits of going meat-free. Even doing so part of the time (let’s say the first day of the conventional work week i.e. Monday) will help alleviate some of the pressure on natural resources used for agriculture. Looks like Meatless Monday is here to stay.

Links

From The Guardian online:

From the Huffington Post online: