So, I'm thinking about starting to eat only vegetarian foods. I figure it's probably pretty inevitable and I have just been waiting for the right moment.
This seems to be it.
I have been having trouble maintaining my weight without being hungry all the time even though I exercise at least three to four times a week. Plus, I'm finding that I'll have a second helping of dinner (which is more and more frequently meat-based) because I'm not satisfied and I don't feel good after. I've gotten into the habit of eating slowly and waiting before second helpings and of drinking a lot of water and all that stuff you're supposed to do to make sure that you aren't eating out of habit or emotionally. But the fact is, I'm still hungry. And when I'm hungry, I'm cranky and can't focus on my work.
A few months ago, I picked up a copy of Skinny Bitch at the thrift store for $.99. Although their "trademark straight-talk and bawdy humor" gets pretty annoying pretty fast, the book is a quick read and seems to make a lot of sense based on what I already know about how our bodies work. It cuts through the urban legends of dieting that try to circumvent natural functioning and talks about what our bodies weren't meant to eat to sustain us. It pointed out that digesting rotting corpses is pretty inefficient and I figure it's worth a shot to try being vegetarian for a little while. If I'm eating a lot, at least it's easy for my body to digest.
I say that vegetarianism was probably inevitable because I've known for awhile now about how awful the animals that we eat get treated. I've mostly shifted to organic foods because of that but still, I know that none of the flesh that enters my mouth was tenderly cared for by a farmer in overalls. It also has a huge environmental impact to eat meat. I know that I can't actually make a measurable difference but that has never stopped me from altering my consumer choices before. I want to be able to live with myself and my choices and that means that I choose the less oppressive choice as much as I can, even if it means paying more or sacrificing a little. It's just the kind of person I want to be. So, I shop at thrift stores for all my clothes, I buy only fair trade chocolate, and now I am a vegetarian.
I want to be a little loose because a) we still have stuff in the freezer and kosher meat is expensive and b) I never want to reject someone else's hospitality.
Still, I am actually a little scared. I held Jacob's hand in bed the other night and cried a little as we talked about it. I find so much joy in my life from eating good and satisfying food. I learned from my mother than eating unsatisfying food (like supermarket birthday cake) is a "waste of calories" and that has stuck with me. I spend a lot of brain waves about my meals and I fear that I will not be able to create enough variety or attain satisfaction with vegetarian meals without spending 3 hours cooking every day. It seems like easy vegetarian meals are just recombinations of the same ingredients. Like in the Simpsons:
Marge: This is delicious! What's in it?I don't know enough about spices to make things interesting and you can't eat navy bean soup every day.
Manjula: Chick peas, lentils, and rice.
Marge: And what's in this?
Manjula: Chick peas and lentils.
Apu: Try it with rice.
It seems like the alternative of vegetarian dishes that sound interesting require more than 10 ingredients each and you need to make three of them to have a balanced meal. I tend to keep a few staples in the house and work with what I have. Jacob tried to soothe me and said, "Pasta with sauce and steamed broccoli on the side is a good vegetarian meal."
This did not help. This is, in fact, my nightmare of vegetarian casual cooking.
But I'm going to try anyway. Jacob can't figure out what the big deal is. He really doesn't care about whether or not the food tastes good or is balanced so that one feels like one has had a full meal. Plus, he has had to be functionally vegetarian whenever he eats other places since kosher meat is generally unavailable or is unwittingly paired with butter or cheese.
The lovely A. has recommended the rebar cookbook for its unexpected flavor combinations and although it looks daunting, I'm willing to trust her and give a few a try. I like working with beans (especially because I can buy them bulk and avoid all the excess packaging that gets thrown out) so I'm trying to spice them differently. I've had a craving for pintos and cheese for days so I thought ahead to be able to make them for lunch today. I guess I'll leave you with my recipe for that since I typed it out for a friend on Facebook.
Soak two cups of pintos overnight with a big handful of salt. Drain and rinse in the morning. Put in crock pot with four cups of water, a diced onions and 4-5 diced garlic cloves. Cook on high stirring occasionally until pintos are mushy (5 hours? 6?) Add a bunch of Trader Joe's quattro formaggio. Stir. Eat. Sometimes I add zucchini or ... canned tomatoes in the last hour or two to get in some sneaky vegetables. If the pintos are smushy but too wet, leave the lid off for the last hour. Yum.