So…if you’re a vegetarian…what do you get to eat?

Seriously?

There’s probably no more annoying question to a vegetarian than perhaps, “Not even fish?”

I usually respond with a very glib, “Food.”

Seriously, the better question is, “What sort of new foods have you discovered?”

In general, people eat a very narrow range of food items.  For some, it is an issue of their comfort range.  For others, it is a lack of imagination or experience.  When I was a kid, if my dad cooked, we got a pork chop fried to shoe leather, some instant mashed potatoes, and a piece of bread.  Maybe a hamburger patty instead.  My mother was an imaginative cook who could make nothing into something.  This proved to be a problem when she returned to work in my early teens.  My brother and I actually liked vegetables; so, we taught ourselves how to cook and made some pretty darned good meals – purely out of self defense. We liked to experiment.  Most of the time experiments worked.  😉

I am the primary cook in our house, and I try to bring that same imagination to what I cook now.  And, with vegetables, there are so many options.  Kale is a good one.  So very, very healthy, it’s a sturdy green that can be used as a salad green or as part of a stir fry or in a soup.  Cabbage – there are so many different types of cabbage: green, red, Napa, bok choy, to name a few – as well as many different applications – not just corned beef or coleslaw!  There are a jillion types of beans, each with a different texture, a different flavor, loaded with protein and other nutrients. 

And, there’s more to life than just pasta or rice.  Couscous! Quinoa! Falafel!  There is so much you can do with these items.  Salads, soups, risottos.  It really is limited only by your imagination.

A word about meat substitutes and tofu.  If you don’t like them, don’t eat them.  I have worked hard to figure out how to prepare them for meals, and I think they turn out pretty well. My vegetarian chili is a big hit with most everyone who eats it.  Once, I even got accused by two hardcore carnivores of lying about the fact there was no meat in it. 🙂  Tofu is not the favorite of lots of folks, too bland for them.  But, again, it’s how you use it.  It’s great for blending in to baked dishes, and my favorite way to use it is to cube it and fry it in olive oil, garlic, and onion until it turns dark brown.  So delicious.  But, it’s not for everyone.

Eating should not be limited by fear or a bad experience.  It should be liberated by the imagination.

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