less meat

8 February 2011

Not difficult, not scary, and not bland. Since the return of my mom’s lung cancer and the subsequent onset of colds and bronchitis, I am trying to do all I can to keep her healthy. (According to her doctor, lung cancer is the fastest growing cancer and it is attacking non-smoking, hot women, like my mom.) I have been going with her to doctor appointments and treatments for over a year and never once has diet, exercise, emotional well-being, or spirituality been addressed or questioned by a doctor. Like her illness is on an island inside her chest, completely isolated from the rest of her being.

So, I convinced her to eat, pray, love as a vegetarian for the month of January and it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be to find recipes so I am sharing some here. I don’t think meat is intrinsically bad but I do think the way the average American consumes meat is bad. Too much, too big, and too modified. It is a myth, a mind-game, that your body needs meat at every meal, or every day, or in order to feel full. I am not a vegetarian but I do try to limit my meat in-take to a few times a week. Here are some reasons why…

-Meat is mainly vitamin deficient, higher in fat, higher in cholesterol, and lacks carbohydrates (yes, your body needs them).

-You don’t know how many drugs or hormones the animal was exposed to and on top of that, what type of modified food product or pesticide-coated vegetables that animal was fed.

-Meat has been linked to a variety of diseases and acne.

-If meat is over-cooked, well done, or charred, it produces carcinogens.

-Cheaper date at a restaurant.

-The environment. Raising, preparing, and transporting meat for consumption requires more fossil fuels, land, and water. Cows produce more atmosphere-damaging emissions than cars do.

-You can get all of the nutrients and proteins your body needs through a plant-based diet.

You get the idea. If you are buying less meat, you can afford to buy organic, grass-fed, or local meat. Our experiment went well and surprisingly, my dad only complained once. He didn’t seem to notice that we weren’t eating steak with a side of goat bladder every night. Now we are back to eating bits o’meat here and there. There is a whole movement devoted to this, Meatless Mondays, and its website is a great resource for freeing yourself from meat just one day a week . I also suggest joining an organic veggie co-op (even my podunk town has one). When you spend $50 every other week on something, you make sure you use it before it goes bad. It enables you to try new foods you wouldn’t typically buy at the store (hello, celery root).

Here are the recipes/ideas/tips that I suggest for your meat-free days. Oh, and I am including a few fish recipes here as well. Oh oh, and I did use chicken broth in some of these, because that’s what I had on hand. Oh oh oh, I haven’t tried all of these because some of mine came from books or magazines, so these are similar or substitutes.

Greek Pizza Pockets

-Broccoli and Cheese Stromboli

Meatless Jambalaya

Broccoli Soup (dairy free, can use veggie broth)

Potato and Corn Tacos

Spinach Enchiladas (I add sauteed onion, garlic, mushroom, and beans to mine)

Lentil Soup

-Southern Sides (I just make some of my favorite side dishes, like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and cornbread)

Sweet Potato Burritos

Crockpot Barley Casserole

-Smoothies (I blend plain yogurt, honey, frozen/fresh strawberries, blueberries, banana, flax seed, and kale or spinach)

Vegetable Lasagna

-Set up a make-your-own omelette buffet

Black Bean Burgers

Greek Salad Pitas

-Veggie Pot Pie (I just follow a chicken pot pie recipe but I use cooked fresh veggies and no chicken)

Fish Tacos

Vegetarian Chili

Eggplant Curry

Teriyaki Salmon

-Add more beans, quinoa, bulgar, greek yogurt, and lentils to your diet

Photo from letouj via flickr