Since becoming a vegetarian, the most common questions I’ve been asked are ‘Do you miss meat yet?’, ‘But don’t you want a steak?’, and ‘What about seafood, are you eating that?’.
My answer? No.
Surprisingly, to me, I still haven’t missed meat, nor have I felt deprived in any way.
It has been seven weeks now, and in that time there has only been one occasion where I’ve thought ‘Gah, that meat smells so good!’. It was last Sunday. Paul had roasted a pork loin and my ears were filled with the sweet sound of crunchy crackling as he ate it… So I fried myself some tofu coated in a salty seasoning mix. It hit the spot.
Disclosure: Chanel received a complimentary box of Jel-it-in vegetarian gelling powder from Queen Fine Foods.
One minor aspect of the vegetarian diet that makes me particularly happy is that while some restaurant menus are lacking in vegetarian options, I can usually count on the dessert menu to be vegetarian! I love that.
Of course, there are a few exceptions. Desserts that feature bacon, and desserts such as jelly, cold-set cheesecake, and panna cotta, which usually contain gelatine made from by-products of the meat industry.
Gelatine is made from the collagen of animal skin and other bits (bones, hooves…) and is used as a gelling agent in the above desserts, plus other products like jelly babies, marshmallows, and some yoghurts, just to name a few.
When I signed up to participate in Meat Free Week recently, I had no intention of becoming a vegetarian after the week finished.
Yet after one week without meat, I realised that I enjoyed being meat-free. What a 180-degree turn after 30 years of eating meat!
I felt more at peace with myself, and cooking vegetarian meals became a creative and fun exercise. In the days after Meat Free Week, my pork-loving self disappeared. The thought of eating meat made my stomach clench. I even had a dream in which I was physically ill after eating a steak. On the way to work one morning an image of crispy-skinned salmon cooked rare inside popped into my head. I thought to myself, ‘maybe I should just eat seafood…’. Then another image popped into my head, of a salmon dying by suffocation.
Yep, my imagination is usually dramatic.
On Sunday night I watched a 60 Minutes report on factory farming and free range chicken. The footage was incredibly upsetting, I bawled, and decided I didn’t want any part of it.
It has now been 17 days (not that I’m counting…) since I have eaten meat (that includes seafood), and my intention is to stay meat-free. Paul is still eating meat, but he’s also happy to eat vegetarian meals.
Becoming a vegetarian is a big decision, for someone who loves cooking and eating out, but it feels right. Plus Miss Piggy told me, ‘Don’t be scared. If you slip you slip…. just do your best.’. So that’s what I’m going to do!
Red Lentil Dahl
I’ve cooked this Red Lentil Dahl quite a few times since I first read it on The Hungry Australian’s blog. It’s easy to make, and quick to make too – even for a dawdler-cook like me. Plus, it tastes delicious – fragrant with spice, slightly sweet, and is filling and hearty.
Recipe by The Hungry Australian
- 1.25 cup red lentils
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 x 3cm piece ginger, peeled and diced
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 can peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups hot water from the kettle
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Wash lentils in running water, discarding debris. Drain.
- Heat up large frypan until smoking hot and then add oil. [I used a large saucepan this time]
- Add onions, garlic and ginger and turn down to medium heat.
- Cook, stirring often, for few minutes until onion softens and then add turmeric, mixing in thoroughly.
- Continue cooking for a minute or so and then add lentils.
- Stir to combine and continue cooking for a minute before adding tomatoes, garam masala and water.
- Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes and then add salt and honey, mixing in thoroughly.
- Serve with steamed rice, pappodams and banana, yoghurt and honey raita. [I like to eat mine with brown rice, fresh coriander, and puppodums/ popadams/ poppadams...]
The chickpea, fetta and olive oil drizzle variation
I’m usually all about recipes and precise measurements when cooking. That’s why I get so much enjoyment out of baking. I like things to be just so.
Though when it comes to standard, regular meals at our place, I rarely follow a recipe. The dinners I cook are pretty simple, repetitive, even boring – but I like it. It might be BBQ meat with salad, or grilled meat and roasted or steamed vegetables, or my favourite, an omelette.
Another favourite is this sauce that I make every couple of weeks with the intention of freezing it in portions (the reality is it gets eaten within a couple of days). It’s full of veggies, healthy AND tasty.
This sauce is different every time I make it. Sometimes I add more vegetables, or less vegetables, depending on what is in the fridge. Sometimes I add chickpeas and eat it with rice. Sometimes I add beef mince and eat it with pasta. It’s also great served over grilled chicken breast and vegetables.
Have I ever mentioned how I feel like a hypocrite being an animal lover who eats meat and that I don’t believe us humans need to eat meat? It’s true. Yet I continue to eat meat because I like the taste and I love everything pork.
I believe that if I/we choose to eat meat, we should eat less of it (it doesn’t have to be the main ingredient in every dish), and we should make more ethical choices when buying meat and eggs.
On 30th May 2011 I became aware of the horrors of live export, and as a result, learnt about factory farming in Australia and the alternative: ethically-produced, grass-fed, free-range meat, poultry, and eggs.
For the next week I will be participating in Meat Free Week. It isn’t trying to make us all become vegetarian or vegan, but is aimed at creating awareness of how much meat we consume, where the meat we’re eating comes from, and the impact our high consumption has on animal welfare and the environment.
But first, a little note on my absence of late…
We started growing apart towards the end of last year, and I’ve cruelly abandoned you since Christmas. In fact, over the past several weeks I haven’t been sure if we should continue our relationship in 2013, because I’ve been questioning my commitment to you, and our future.
After much thought, I’ve decided that I do want to keep you. You’re a fun hobby to have, you’re my ‘me time’, you’ve allowed me to have some wonderful experiences, and I’m probably your biggest fan as I often cook from recipes posted here (yep, I do).
So we’re sticking together.
Going forward I may only post a couple of times a month, or maybe more, and I doubt you’ll have many readers, but that’s ok, I still love you. You’re just my little corner of the internet – my online food journal.
With (Cats) Love (and Cooking),
Chocolate honeycomb & almond ice-cream cake.