Mea Culpa

Well, it wouldn’t be an honest reflection of my trials and tribulations of being new to vegetarianism if I didn’t admit to slipping.  Yep…I did.  A couple of times.  Once when I was in Florida – it was when  my brother took me to his navy base officers club for trivia night and we had chicken wings and draft beer.  They were good.  I had eight wings.  I didn’t want to do the “I can’t eat that cuz I’m a vegetarian” thing.  Too early in the game –  so I ate them.

The next time was at another restaurant with a poor vegetarian selection.  I ate crappy calamari, which was like eating rubber bands.  Do I feel bad?  Not really 100% bad…just a little.  Look, I’m trying!  I never said I was perfect.  And it is a progression as much as an attitude.  Right now, my main food concerns are the poisons going into my food and the ecological disaster that factory farming creates.  Though I do feel bad at how the animals are treated, I’m doing this more for my health and as my own way of protesting what’s going on in the food industry.  I suppose that makes me more at risk of slipping.  I need to get more into the animal welfare thought process.  I know when I think of how they’re treated, I feel horrified, but it’s not the first thing that comes to mind.  I’ll need to change that.  In the meantime, please forgive my slippage. 

Guilt, sweet guilt

I just got back from visiting with my folks in Jacksonville, FL.  We had a great time, but I knew my newfound vegetarianism would be uncomfortable for my mom.  She derives enjoyment from cooking and most especially when family is in town.  She prepares lovely meals, some of them our family legacy such as chicken and noodles or ham, potatoes and cabbage.  I knew that my being vegetarian would be taking away something special.  It would take away hours of her planning what she’d fix and what to buy at the store. Not only that, it takes away that sense of nurturing that a mother gets from feeding her family.  It takes away the “that was real good, mama.”  Man, did I feel guilty!  However, I told her we’d go shopping when I got to town.

DSCN1717

My parents are in their early 80’s and live on a modest retirement income.  We hit the stores in my mom’s local circuit – Walmart, Winn Dixie & Target.

mom and dad at Walmart

Where I live, I only have only found a few meat replacement options I like, but Yves makes some decent hamburger replacement and Veggie Patch makes some awesome veggie burgers so between my vegetable meals I can add meat replacers from time to time.  For this trip I opted to try to stay as close to what Mom was cooking as possible, meaning that most meals contained meat replacers.   They ate hamburgers and hot dogs, so did I.  They made lasagna, so did I.  We co-existed peacefully…but I missed my veggie meals.  There’s nothing better than steamed broccoli with broccoli gravy.  That’s where I puree some broccoli with a bit of butter and cheese and pour it over the rest of the broccoli.  Yeah, I missed just eating vegetables – but you gotta do what you gotta do, and I was really happy with the variety of great tasting meat replacement foods I found at the local stores.

Every once in a while I asked the family to try my “meat”.  Dad, at first, was adamant, “I eat meat!” But as the days passed, he took bites of the veggie Italian sausage and the veggie burger.  Mom was an easier sell.  I think she was curious to find out if the non-meat tasted any good.  She was quite surprise when she realized that most of what I ate tasted very similar to the real thing,.  I was going to try to get them to do a Meat Free Monday, but the idea was still too new.  I’ll try to get them into it the next trip down.  My brother just returned from being stationed in Bahrain, and lives across the street from my parents.  I think my brother and his family would go along with a meat-free Monday…so I just need to work on Dad….

Dad looking intimidating!

Dad looking intimidating!

He’s actually quite a pussy cat…but he’ll need some charming to agree to Meat Free Monday.  That’s okay, I have a few months to work on him!

Sins of the Flesh

So, post Thanksgiving I began having dreams.  Dreams of eating meat – my sins of the flesh.  Thoughts of grabbing some cold turkey out of the fridge and making a sandwich seemed to float in the air around me.  Where did these thoughts come from?  I wasn’t consciously aware of wanting meat, and yet I’d be hungry and start heading for the leftovers.  Happy to say I’ve resisted the urge but still I wondered where these hidden desires came from.  I put it down to neural memories from Thanksgivings past.  That’s just part of the holiday season.  You eat, drink, make some merriment and then eat the leftovers for several days until you can’t stand turkey.  I did have the luxury of veggie leftovers though, and so I created new memories and stayed loyal to my new desire.

DSCN1483I’d rather see birds in a nest than dead, on my plate.  Just sayin’…

Happy Thanksgiving – Vegetarian Style

I’ve been a vegetarian for two months now.  Why did I suddenly give up my meat-eating ways?  Disgust.  I am so angry at what we’ve collectively done to the environment that this is my means of protest.  I began with Meat Free Mondays and after 8 months I made the total shift.  Honestly, being a vegetarian is something I’d wanted to do since I was a teen.  It seemed bohemian.  I am an Aquarian – ’nuff said.   At any rate, the deed has been done.  So….this Thanksgiving was my first vegetarian holiday celebration.  What used to be a joy, with the cooking and fussing over the bird, became a scene from a horror flick.  I looked at the turkey that had been hermetically sealed in a plastic bag, and noticed things I really paid no attention to before – like the fact that it was a dead animal dripping with blood.    I rinsed the body and peered into the cavity for there rested the neck and giblets.   It’s funny, what I used to do without a thought now suddenly seemed obscene – a desecration to the already desecrated animal.  But, I am the cook of the house so I had to do what needed to be done – retrieve the heart, liver, giblets and neck from deep within the dead bird.

Dead bird

Dead bird

Once I’d cleaned and stuffed the turkey, feeling rather like a mortician of sorts, I went on to cook my own meal.  A lovely tomato pie, noodles, Brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and stuffing.  It was great!  And my greatest success was thinking of a way to keep the stuffing moist (like it would be inside the turkey) by using a squash.

I made my stuffing exactly like the regular stuffing, except I used veggie sausage and vegetable broth.

I made my stuffing exactly like the regular stuffing, except I used veggie sausage and vegetable broth.

I’ve found Allrecipes.com to be a great help in finding really tasty vegetarian meals.  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-pie-ii/detail.aspx  And while it is difficult fixing both vegetarian and meat-eater holiday meals, it’s not impossible.  I just try to keep things streamlined.  Cook what everyone else is having – just with modifications.  I must say my noodles were delicious – even without the base of turkey broth that’s normally used.  Vegetable broth worked great!

YUM

My veggie dinner!

Lesson Learned:  Once on the path to vegetarianism you become more thoughtful with regards to food and things you used to do with meat now seem wrong or gross – or both.