Turning vegetarian

February 19, 2015

turning-vegetarianThe Chipotle CEO said the other day that he’d never seen anything as disgusting as McDonald’s chicken farm.  No details, though. The experience was the catalyst behind his move to make ingredients organic, sustainable, locally sourced, “whenever possible.”

It’s true that these massive meat and poultry farms have had to clean up their acts to a certain degree, thanks to national push against cruel conditions for animals raised for food. But a free-range chicken still ends up on the plate in front of us.

I don’t believe any animal should live in horrific conditions or be cruelly treated.

I wouldn’t eat veal or fois gras on a bet.

I am convinced intellectually that a vegetarian diet is healthier.

I do not like the idea of slaughtering animals for food when we have a perfectly reasonable and good-for-us alternative.

We eat more vegetarian meals than ever before, to be honest.

And yet, old habits die hard and as much as I’d like to, it’s difficult for me to make the transition to full vegetarian. I love a good steak, as long as I don’t have to think of cattle being slaughtered. A perfectly-roasted chicken is a thing of beauty, to me. But chicken farms sound awful.

As much as I like animal proteins,  turning vegetarian is my goal. (Vegan might be a bridge too far for a newbie, but I can envision it one day.)

peppers colorful gorgePart of it is that when you’ve been cooking one way for 40 years, a vegetarian diet takes more prep time and more imagination.  Home cooks really have to think ahead, rather than just pull something out of the freezer, add some spices and cook.   Also, I do not eat any seeds at all to avoid diverticulitis attacks, so that eliminates berries, tomatoes unless I skin and de-seed, and many other fruits and veggies. Same with nuts and seeds, which eliminates a good source of protein. It’s a challenge.

I was going to say that my husband wouldn’t embrace a full vegetarian diet, but I just asked him and got this response:  “I never thought I would say this, but I could, crazy as it sounds.”

It’s obvious that we’re moving in that direction, slowly.

Have you made the switch? How did you do it? And what was it like for you? What do you wish you knew when you made the transition to vegetarianism?

I’m looking for a good cookbook or website with simple but yummy vegetarian recipes to make the transition easier. Got suggestions?  I’ll take them. Feel free to share your favorite vegetarian recipe, too, in links or just written out.

I appreciate any ideas or encouragement you have.


40 comments on “Turning vegetarian
  1. nora says:

    I’m neither a vegan or vegetarian, but I eat very little meat. There is no real reason except that I don’t particularly care for meat. We’ve had teen-age grandsons visiting this week and meat has been on the menu most nights. Fish and vegetable casseroles are going to taste devine next week!

    I’m aways on the look out for good veggie recipes and would love to hear from your readers.

  2. Hi Carol, Last fall, I won two vegan cookbooks that I do not want. If you would like them, email me with a mailing address.
    I eat mostly vegetables…but not ready to completely give up my meat!
    Let me know if you want them!

  3. BellyBytes says:

    Well, as a born vegetarian and a practicing non-vegetarian who lapses into vegetarianism for a few months in the year, I can say that the only vegetarian food you can really eat is Indian. We Indians make everything vegetarian ( yes vegetarian Italian or Continental, vegetarian Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese! We have vegetarian cakes and vegetarian desserts that look like they’ve just come from a Parisian Patisserie.) If you are interested there are trillions of Indian cooks who’ve put their recipes on line and I guarantee that most of them work! Two I would strongly recommend are Tarla Dalal and Asha Khatau.
    I doubt you’d have use for it, but I too have written a cookbook recording the traditional food eaten by my family and community – you could buy it on Kindle – The Fragrance of Mango Blossoms

  4. Karen says:

    Is it possible to be “mostly vegetarian”? If so, that’s what we are. Basically, we’ve radically reduced our meat intake (to perhaps one meat meal every 2-3 weeks), and we cook vegetarian the rest of the time.

    When we do eat meat, we source it locally, and aim for small-farm-raised animals, or wild meat like venison. As a friend once said, “Animals raised humanely live happy, comfortable lives. And then they have one bad day.” It’s a more expensive alternative, but it does 2 things: helps us limit our meat intake, and ensures the viability of small farms in our area.

    As for cookbooks and recipe sources: I have some old standbys that have never let me down. The Vegetarian Epicure, Books 1 and 2 by Anna Thomas, and the “Small Planet” books by Frances Moore Lappé and Ellen Buchman Ewald.

  5. Tesha Fritz says:

    Pinterest has a ton of recipes and all kinds of good stuff for transitioning.

  6. I would recommend that you visit your public library and check out books by the authors I’m going to suggest to you. If you fall in love with their style, then by all means, go buy their work! An author deserves to be supported, as I’m sure you agree!
    Vegetables by Alice Waters is a classic. (She opened Chez Panisse restaurant, back in the ’70’s, which really was one of the flagship restaurants of the California cuisine movement. She changed the way Americans eat!)
    Deborah Madison is EXCELLENT, so anything by her would be worth at least checking out of the library. Try her book, Vegetable Literacy.
    Also, try picking up a book by Mollie Katzen. I have the oldest one, I believe, entitled Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve had it since the early 1980’s, and there are STILL recipes in there I use to this day!
    Hope that helps!

  7. I am a born and practicing vegetarian. I have known no other way apart from this. I would like to wish you all the best in your transition from being a meat eater to adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.

  8. Kim Tackett says:

    We love Deborah Madison’s cookbooks. They’re beautiful and well written. She started with Alice Waters and opened Greens Restaurant years ago. Try Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Vegetable Literacy. Despite being one of the leading vegetarian cookbook authors, she’s not 100% vegetarian. I believe she describes it as being a vegetarian at home. She’s really about local, seasonal…and experimentation and taste.

  9. Lisa says:

    I try to go meatless at least once a week

  10. Good for you and your husband to make the concious choice to go vegetarian! 🙂 It’s not always easy! I was a ovo-vegetarian (allowed eggs) for almost 6 years after having my gallbladder removed at 21. I felt and looked my absolute best during that time. Get ready to have lots of fun with all sorts of new foods that you may have never considered before!

  11. Carolann says:

    You’ve touched on a subject near to my heart for a long time. I tried the vegetarian thing for a year and wasn’t eating enough protein and my doc took me right off that diet. On the other hand, my sister and daughter are staunch vegetarians for every now and they are both great and healthy. My daughter cooks up some amazing vegetarian dishes too that are totally yummy! The main meat I eat is chicken too…which disgusts me. I do eat steak once in a while and the occasional bacon. I haven’t eaten veal or lamb in my life…nasty for sure. I always want to try eating vegetarian again…maybe your post will inspire me to try again! My hubby would never go that route so that makes it even tougher for sure. Let us know if you decide to do it!

  12. Eating healthy is a big enough struggle for me. I’m not ready to give up my meat, but we do eat a lot more vegetables these days. I have the same exact issues with seeds and nuts so those are out as well.

  13. I have a hard enough time eating healthy there is no way I am ready to give up my meat. We do eat a lot more vegetables though. We do try to buy organic when we can. I cannot eat seeds or nuts as well so those are out.

  14. Unfortunately, everyone in my family loves a good steak! We could never be vegetarians, even though I’m sure it works for many.

  15. I’m not vegetarian, nor do I think I could be. However, I do limit our meat consumption and have been trying to have 3 meat-free meals per week. It can be challenging at times.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.

  16. I was a vegetarian for many years. My doctor said my body needed protein, and advised me to go back to meat for a while. I did, I feel better plus I am losing weight. I do feel guilty though.

    Stay off red meat, then chicken, and after a while go to Morningstar’s sausage patties and burgers, you’ll love them.

  17. Vegetarianism is a personal choice I believe in a balanced diet for healthy living.

  18. Britney says:

    That’s so interesting! I don’t think I could be a complete vegetarian but I can cut back on eating so much meat and try to get in more veggies!

  19. Diane says:

    Looked into it, but still a carnivore. You’re so right when you say old habits die hard! 🙂

  20. I am far from being 100% vegetarian, but I have given up eating about 80% of the meat I used to eat. I don’t think I will ever give up eggs, cheese, and milk. The only person I have to cook for is myself, so that makes it a lot easier. I’m a sandwich lover and only use real Italian bread. I find I love veggie sandwiches; peppers, onions, zucchini or summer squash, and mushrooms sauteed make an awesome and filling sandwich. I also love salads so that helps too. Coleslaw with kidney beans is delicious. Chef salad, Potato or macaroni salad will fill me up.

    Occasionally I like a steak but will only eat one when I’m out and I don’t eat out more than twice a year. It helps that I didn’t eat chicken, veal, or lamb to begin with. Working one day at a chicken ranch (years ago when money was tight) and carrying six chickens at a time to be slaughtered because their egg laying days were over was the end of eating chicken for me. I do eat fish, mostly cod, tilapia, and shrimp. Since you can’t do seeds, try scooping them out. Roma tomatoes have more flesh and fewer seeds, smaller squash have fewer seeds too and are easy to scoop out. Peanut butter and beans are staples.

    If it helps, I started slow, eliminating all meat two days a week. I found it easy to do except with some things where I like the taste of the meat but not necessarily the meat itself. Boiled dinner is a good example. I used to cook a pound of Kielbasa with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots; now if I use any Kielbasa at all, it’s a minimal amount for flavor. The more veggies I ate, the less meat I actually wanted. Just like when I gave up sweets, my strategy is if I don’t buy it and bring it home, I can’t eat it. I’m not totally there yet and with summer coming I’ll probably cave a couple of times for a grilled hot dog or hamburger, but I am making good progress. Good luck to you.

  21. Heather says:

    Although the conditions of some of these places are cruel and I certainly dont approve, I don’t think I could fully embrace being a vegetarian. It seems rather hard and like I would be depriving my body of protein. To get my reccomended daily amount of protein which is about 36 grams per day, I would need to eat at least 236 almonds or nuts with the same protein value a day, that just seems like an absurd amount. Being hypoglycemic, my protein intake is very important to my health. But I do see some valid reasons for some people to make these choices.

  22. I *think* I could do it. I know darn well my husband never would. As I refuse to make separate meals for us, I guess I’ll never find out if I’d succeed at being a vegetarian. (Maybe that’s a good thing for I do really love a good burger or juicy steak now and again. I love pork loin, too.)

  23. I’m neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, however, I love my veggies with a side of a good piece of chicken. We have been trying to eat healthier and our goal is to purchase of organic and free-range meats. Thank you for sharing this post, it has inspired me to search for alternatives to massive meats producers.

  24. Julee says:

    We are slowly eating less and less meat. We can tell the difference. Thank you for this great post so I can learn more and implement it into my family.

  25. I don’t think I could ever be a vegetarian although I believe in it 100%. My daughter and husband are both vegetarians now, and I so respect that they are sticking to their principles.

  26. I have a friend who is vegetarian. I have shared a few recipes with them that I think would lend to being made vegetarian.

  27. We are vegetarians, and love being this way. There is abundant supply of fruits and vegetables in California.. and never seemed to run out of ideas to cook. I am never even tempted to go near meat. BTW, nice post!

  28. Lana says:

    I’m not a vegetarian, although I eat meat only rarely because I don’t really like it. We get our beef from our farmer friends. Their three kids each raise one cattle every year, name it, take great care of it, show it at the fair – and then sell it for meat. They are so matter of fact about it, and start the process over each year. It always seems strange to me, but at least we know where our beef comes from!

  29. I hope you will find your perfect balance with food and if you really want to be vegetarian I am sure you will find the way to achieve it.
    I love my meat way too much to even consider a switch.

  30. Theresa Wiza says:

    For years I’ve been wanting to be a vegetarian. I don’t each much meat anyway, though I do love chicken and fish. I’m still looking for that recipe that makes a vegetable taste like BBQ chicken.

  31. Maria Aponte says:

    Same here. We hear you. We eat a lot less meat now. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for our overall well-being. 🙂

  32. Good for you! I buy meet only from a local butcher that is mostly organic or at least with no hormones and antibiotics. I eat it rarely but can’t giving it up simply because husband would never go for it and I don’t always feel like making separate meals. Thanks for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things, hope to see you again!

  33. Good for you! We have at least one meatless meal a week but I don’t know if I could go meatless every day.

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