I am a full-blown omnivore, don’t get me wrong I am not looking to convert anyone! I choose to have a vegetarian meal at least once a week for numerous reasons here are some of them;
1. A vegetarian meal forces me to get creative. I don’t have a great number of vegetarian meals in my repertoire. SO I have to hunt for them. I try new things and all of this expands my recipe bank and my family’s tastes! Top meals that I make are Lentil Taco’s with Romaine lettuce shells, raw beetroot burgers, black bean/lentil burgers and meze style falafel, humus, and salads (sprouted lentil and parsnip cous cous and mango salsa. The best advice given to me was from Mark Bittman’s book- How To cook Everthing Vegetarian (a fellow omnivore looking to include more vegetarian meals into his life). He says you need to think differently instead of trying to convert a meat dish into a vegetarian ones i.e. veggie burgers, veggie lasagna etc. Look at creating several small dishes to make up a meal. That’s how I love to eat; big sharing platters in the middle of the table that you can dive into. It also makes it seem a lot easier to plan and shop for as I actually normally have most of the ingredients in the house anyway! At the same time you can be introduced to several new ingredients and have a way to use them at the same time.
2. Vegetables are way cheaper than meat, especially if you are buying chilled grass-fed, pastured meat. It is important for me to buy meat that is free from injected hormones, from naturally fed, happy animals. By not eating meat every night allows me to juggle costs by ensuring it is only 5 meals at the most a week (we have fish night too!). That also means there is more money for organic fruit and vegetables too
3. Buying organic vegetables is ideal but sometimes (especially in Hong Kong) you won’t get what you want as there is limited supply and choice. With vegetables there are ways of removing added extras if you can’t buy organic (this is not so easy with animal products). I mainly stick to buying the dirty 12 as organic as possible and with all the rest I use a Kefir wash to remove as much un-savoury additions (herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers etc). Using herbs and spices to liven up your meal also adds nutrient density to the meal. Especially when eating organic eating vegetarian meals may help to prevent certain cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
4. The subtle tastes through to the robust flavours of vegetables keeps the taste buds active and helps to refine your palate. This is important if you have a highly processed diet and are coming towards a real food diet. If you are accustomed to only sweet flavours then eating vegetarian can revive your sense of taste and smell. Vegetables contain antioxidants too and the vibrancy of eating fresh organic vegetables really comes through in your meal (especially if some of it is raw). Supporting local organic farmers or growing your own food makes such a difference to this. Anyone whose eaten organic carrots, cucumber or tomatoes can attest to this.
5. The fibre aspect of eating vegetarian can not be ignored. The digestive system is high on my list of priorities to nurture, strengthen and keep moving. Fibre plays a bit part in this. I always feel lighter and less sluggish after a vegetarian meal, full rather than stuffed. The fibre also helps to support the liver by helping the body to eliminate toxins rather than letting food fester and toxins re-circulate. Of course eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside animal products can help in the same way but by giving the body a rest from having to digest meat can often help things move along.
Check out a great round up of vegetarian recipes here
Thanks to By Mark Fosh (originally posted to Flickr as DSCN1672) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons for the image
By Jina Lee [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons