vegetarian vixen

If everyone made an effort to eliminate meat from their diet for one full day a week, we could reduce our risk of cancer, conserve water and save a whole lot of animals…just in one day!  Meatless Monday is a movement to encourage people to try a vegetarian lifestyle for one whole day…easy right?  Not if you love love love meat (that’s me BTW).  But going vegetarian has its benefits, and there are a ton of recipes that will make you actually want to make the switch, maybe even full time.

(Note:  As I’ve been learning more about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, I’ve learned the impact of eating dairy and eggs on animal welfare.  These recipes do contain some dairy/eggs that were purchased from local farms).

Veggie Quesadillas:

  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, 1 clove diced garlic, 1/2 chopped onion
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Avocado, salsa (optional)
  • Black beans
  • Spanish rice

Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add garlic and onion until fragrant, then add sliced peppers.  Layer cheese and cooked veggie mix on tortillas, then use spatula to press into heated pan.  Slice, top with avocado and serve with rice and beans.

Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 zucchini, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 carrots diced in small pieces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • Bay leaf
  • Ground veggie crumbles (in meatless section) (optional)
  • Chili mix: cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic salt

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add sliced garlic and onion; cook until transparent.  Add chopped vegetables (and ground veg crumbles in using), bay leaves, and a dash of oil.  Cook for about 7 minutes, until soft, then add tomatoes and kidney beans.  Turn heat to high and let boil for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Top with cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Cauliflower Steak

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Spice mix: salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic salt
  • Olive oil
  • Green beans, washed and snapped
  • Walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • Quinoa

No, this does NOT compare to steak.  But it is really freaking delicious. Slice a head of cauliflower into four thick slices.  Brush with olive oil and spice mix; roast at 450 for 20 minutes, until tender.  Sautee green beans with olive oil, diced garlic and walnuts.  Serve with cauliflower steaks and quinoa.

Black Bean Burgers with Honey Sriracha Corn

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 diced onion, 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 ears of corn
  • Honey Sriracha butter: 2 parts sriracha to 1 part honey mixed into stick of butter

Drain the black beans, then mash into a paste.  Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper and any other seasonings.  Add one egg, then stir in bread crumbs until consistency is not so mushy.  Form patties and let chill for 10 min.  Grill ears of corn, then coat with honey sriracha butter.  Serve with cooked burgers topped with tomatoes and avocado.

Being a vegetarian is not easy, and it takes a lot of discipline to avoid ChicFilA when you’re having a long day.  Since I made the switch a few months ago, I’ve found some tips that make going veg relatively painless.

  • Avoid meat substitute products:  Chickenless chicken and meatless meat are okay sometimes, but making them the main staple in your diet isn’t a great idea.  Often they’re loaded with sodium and other not-so-great fillers, so instead try to make vegetables the main ingredient.
  • Have a recipe arsenal:  I love to cook, so I worried being a vegetarian would take the fun out of my hobby.  Instead, I’ve learned how to utilize ingredients in new ways, and expand my taste palette.  Take your five fav recipes and put a meatless spin on them to ease yourself in.
  • BYOF:  People think vegetarians are always preaching but never doing.  And at get togethers, there will often be times there are no vegetarian options.  Instead of complaining, bring a delicious dish to share and guarantee you have something to eat.
  • Don’t beat yourself up:  When I’m hungover, vegetables are not going to do it, and yea I’ve succumbed to a morning bacon egg and cheese.  It happens.  The important part is to get back on track rather than just give up.  Eventually I found myself not craving meat, and going for something like stacks of pancakes instead.
  • Buy locally:  I have read so much about the impact of dairy and egg business on animal welfare, and it’s disgusting.  Instead of giving eggs and dairy up altogether, I go to my Sunday farmers market or buy from the local farms we have nearby.  Making small choices like this can have a big impact on local business and animal welfare.
  • DONT PREACH: People are automatically defensive around vegetarians because people love meat and no one likes to be told what to do.  Personally IDGAF what anyone else eats, it’s ignorant comments like “Animals don’t have brains or feelings” that irritate me.  So when people ask WHY OH WHY WOULD YOU GIVE UP MEAT? I respond “it’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and I’ve found that I really agree with a veg lifestyle.”  Then I shut up and pretend I’m really enjoying the limp salad I ordered.  Don’t show PETA videos, don’t lecture, and don’t start acting holier than thou.   However, do show this meme.  It’s very spot on.

I will attest that since giving up meat, I’ve lost weight, reduced my grocery bill significantly and learned to cook and eat in new ways.  I always tell my students “No one can do everything, but everyone can do one thing, and that one thing might change someone (or some animal’s!) life.”

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