Vegetarianism: perspectives

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it but, in our family, we look at vegetarianism from different perspectives. Of course, we are all aware that there are several kinds of vegetarians (some include eggs and dairy in their diet; others, don’t) and that a vegetarian is not necessarily a vegan. But how to approach vegetarianism?

First of all, we’re not planning on turning totally vegetarian. Sam has been wanting to exclude red meat from our diet, Speedy says we’ll all die, but neither position advocates going vegetarian. What we really want is just to include more fruits and vegetables in our daily diet for a more realistic balance. My suggestion is to go vegetarian for a day or two per week. Or, in the alternative, to have one vegetarian meal per day.

But what exactly would a “vegetarian” meal consist of? Aaaahhh, that’s where the opinions vary. Speedy and I are fine with mock meat. You know, gluten. They are now widely available (the Korean store in the neighborhood sells them) and they’ve come a long way from the cardboard-tasting stuff from my childhood that my mother made me and my brother eat. They’re actually good these days and they come in several forms and textures.

Alex, on the other hand, wants no fake meat. She says if we’re going vegetarian, then, that should mean no meat but only natural fruits and vegetables. As in fresh fruits and vegetables though not necessarily eaten raw.

With the debate far from being over, I started thinking about a “vegetarian” blog. You know, a blog with vegetarian recipes. I wondered if I have enough vegetarian recipes in the archive to create a substantial base for a new blog. Yesterday, I started counting them.

At the dinner table, I happily announced that after more than nine years of blogging, I have exactly 24 vegetarian recipes in the archive. Sam and Speedy both made this sound that seemed to me to be something between a snigger and a good-natured giggle.

And Sam asked, very tongue-in-cheek, just how many of those 24 vegetarian recipes are actually side dishes that I served alongside lechon kawali or fried chicken and the like.

Well… Whatever. I’m proud of the 24 vegetarian dishes considering that before I commenced counting, I was so sure there couldn’t be more than five. That’s a huge number between five and 24 so I was happy. So, there. I have segregated those 24 vegetarian recipes and, later today, I will move them to this blog. Oh, yes, this is a separate blog from the main one — didn’t you notice the different header and color scheme?

Okay, so 24 vegetarian recipes might sound too few but I’ll grow that list. Who knows? Maybe, after another nine years of blogging, I’ll have 48 instead of 24 vegetarian recipes. Or, it is also possible that I’ll have 480 by then. That depends on how much support I get. If there’s a lot of whining every time I serve a vegetarian dish, the growth of that list will probably go slow. But if Speedy and the girls will eat the vegetarian dishes with as much gusto as the meaty ones, the list will grow faster. We’ll see. We’ll see.





15 Comments

  • geri says:

    Connie, natawa ako sa part about Speedy saying you are all going to die if you turn vegetarian lol I am looking forward to your vegetarian section, I am with Sam about the mock meat. I tried being a vegan for a few months, I like it, I liked how my body felt but I just fail at the preparation part especially when veggies don’t have a long shelf life which means going to the supermarket more often thus succumbing to the convenience and easy availability of meat. Not to mention I miss the egg, cheese and crustaceans. I am focusing on more veggies again and lately has been crazy about quinoa. Have you tried it? Masarap siya. Evan and I even like it better than rice, although I think in the long run it will still be a mix/alternating of/with brown rice and quinoa because it is a little expensive.

    • He really said that ha when I cooked peperonata.

      The more frequent trips to the supermarket is our issue too about more veggies and fruits in our daily meals. And during the rainy season, veggies and fruits are just so expensive. Jaw dropping expensive.

      Re quinoa: saw a box in the supermarket. Too pricey. Terrible.

      • crisma says:

        Like Geri, natawa rin ako dun sa comment ni Speedy that you are all going to die should you become vegetarian– ;)) haha!!! Para namang super kawawa!

        Your proposal is actually a good way to do it… not so drastic. And then, it will turn into a habit, little by little… like training your taste buds.

        • We’d start sooner with the vegetarian attempt but since it started raining 12 days ago, the price of veggies have been on the rise. It’s terrible — some veggies cost more than beef!

  • Elaine says:

    Hi Connie! I’m a regular ‘lurker’ of this blog and I totally enjoy reading your thoughts and perspective on food and life in general. Not to mention your ‘vegetarian’ recipes! I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 5 years now and my primary reason for this is my desire to live a more compassionate lifestyle. I am generally a healthy person and with the benefits of a vegetarian diet, being healthy and fit come as bonus for me. I’m currently working on a vegetable garden in the backyard. I have all sorts of herbs, eggplants, lettuce and I intend to add more greens to that list. It’s really exciting(: Anyway, as for your plans of a ‘vegetarian blog’, that would be really awesome and to think that I enjoy your blog as it is now. Wow! I’m currently compiling your vegetarian recipes in my Knowtes app and I can’t wait to try them. I enjoy going through your archives. Thank you so much for your generosity.

    PS
    Some vegetarian staples can be ridiculously expensive. Quinoa is one. I find our local black/red/violet rice from the uplands to be really delicious when cooked properly though. :)

    • Hi Elaine, I think a lot of the expensive stuff is related to the fact that vegetarianism has become popular lately. Business as usual, in other words. Where there’s a demand, even if supply is ample, sellers raise the price. At any rate, I’m not planning on using the “fashionable” vegetarian ingredients. It’s going to be more like finding more exciting ways to cook humble veggies like kangkong and togue. That’s the challenge right there. :)

  • Sharon O says:

    Good on you, Mrs V, for wanting your family to have more fruits and vegetables in their diet, and good on Sam for wanting the real stuff, no fake meat for her :-) I agree, mock or fake meat is a bit dodgy. Would you believe that I’ve been on a vegetarian diet myself for the past 4 weeks? I know, and I used to love my meat too (my husband is shocked that I’ve been able to do it but pleased for me he says). For personal reasons, I decided to have a go and so far, so good! :-)

    Some things that I’ve learned that I hope you don’t mind me sharing. I know that meat lovers may believe that vegetarian food means bland and boring. I love my vegies, but also love the texture of meat and this is something that I don’t wish to feel that I need to miss out on.

    For instance, I’ve found that legumes are great for giving “body” and texture to meat-free dishes. For example, to meat-free pasta sauces I’ve been adding cannellini or white kidney beans and puréeing the sauce once cooked with a stick blender and this makes it nice and thick. My hubby thought I had put meat in it, but no, definitely not! And it’s delicious :-)

    Same will apply for vegetable soups that have beans or legumes in them such as lentils, I just add nice spices such as cumin and turmeric perhaps and then blitz for a nice and smooth consistency. Such a lovely texture :-)

    I haven’t said no to fish (except for shellfish which I don’t eat) so for me anchovies also add a flavour-boost to some vegetarian dishes.

    Falafels are the vegetarian “meatballs” made of chickpeas and they’re yummy with hummus (hummous?) And mushrooms of course, they’re meat for the vegos. My fave topping on a pizza now – cheese (mozza, cheddar and parmesan) and mushies. Really good!

    But what I have to have every week is roasted cauliflower and zucchini (or courgette) with lots of olive oil and garlic, then mix all that with couscous made with chicken-flavoured stock. Super-delicious!

    Sorry to ramble on here, Mrs V, just really excited for you and what you’re attempting to do as I feel that I’m in the same boat! Hope I can learn lots from you too about your upcoming vegetarian adventures! And your other readers too :-)

    • I stopped think that vegetarian food is boring after that lunch at The Vegetarian Kitchen. I’ve been a mushroom lover for as long as I can remember and, yes, they are a great alternative to meat.

      Legumes, I still have to try. Sam loves chickpeas (when pureed) and can eat beans (when cooked to a mush). Speedy balks at lentils… hahaha But I think that’s the real challenge there — to cook veggies creatively. We’ll get there. :)

      • Hannah Chung says:

        Hi Connie, I am a Korean-American living in the U.S., but grew up in Manila. I am a huge fan of Filipino food and it’s so hard to find here in Atlanta. As a result, I usually have to make it myself, at home. Recently, I have also been trying to incorporate more vegetables in our family meals and one of my husband’s favorites is Tortang talong which is still a work-in-progress for me. (I always omit the meat.). I know you have a few older recipes for Tortang talong on your site, but I’d love to see another, meatless one. Can it be made with tofu? I always have trouble peeling the eggplant after roasting it. I’d love a real step-by-step guide…

  • Hannah says:

    Thanks Connie!

    Two quick questions:

    1. Your recipe says the eggplant can be boiled, steamed, broiled or grilled. I’ve tried grilling and found it a little difficult to peel. So I usually roast them (but still find the peeling a little challenging). What method do you prefer?

    2. Would you serve it with some kind of sauce? I like to serve Tortang talong with a soy sauce/vinegar mixture. (wish I could do soy/calamansi but alas, there is no calamansi to be found in North Georgia. Not even in the Asian supermarkets.)

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