Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To Eat Meat Or To Not Eat Meat

Thanks for all the comments on that last post guys!  I love comments :)
A bunch of you mentioned your surprise at my husband's request for tempeh so I thought I would tell you more about Greg's eating habits.  Really, him wanting tempeh for dinner had more to do with his desire to consume lots of orange sauce (he can't enough of that stuff!), but actually, Greg does like tempeh and most other healthy food that I cook.

I don't really stop to think about it much these days, but I guess I am lucky that I have a guy that likes eating the same kind of stuff I do most of the time.  Greg doesn't cook much for himself though, so when he is home and I'm not there, I sometimes do catch him eating junk food, but it's usually snacky junk food, like Doritos and Little Debbie oatmeal cookies. 

We are not one of those couples who has to debate whether to get meat lovers pizza or not.  Greg is probably actually more likely to eat vegetarian than I am.  He's definitely open to tempeh, tofu, any kind of bean based veggie burger, exotic grains, etc...  He even drinks green monsters with me like a champ!  I've been known to tease him at a BBQ place or "hardcore" bar for ordering the veggie burger if they have one on the menu.  Seriously, he's truly into eating vegetarian when he can.

I actually did do a post about his (our) gravitation towards vegetarian food a while back, but I'll kind of re-address it. 
As I said in that post, Greg actually came to his own place with meat eating, or lack there of, without me prodding him with vegetarian food.  When I first met him, he did sort of embody that mid-western boy persona of a meat-and-potato type of guy. 

He liked his White Castle burgers when I met him, that's for sure (ewww!).
I usually went out of my way to make him lots of meaty comfort food in the early years of our relationship.

Somewhere along the way, he gradually shifted to wanting more vegetarian food and less meat.  I noticed him ordering portabello sandwiches over burgers, veggie subs at Subway, veggie wraps, and veggie pasta dishes a lot when we were out to eat.  I think this came from him reading certain literature about life longevity and thinking about his family history of health problems that are likely related to poor diet.  I also think it was motivated by his love for animals.  He is always quick to tell me that cows are probably as smart as dogs.  I think eventually I asked if he wanted me to cook meat, and he said that he would actually prefer if I didn't.  That was fine with me.

We are not full on vegetarians.  I kind of like to call us semi-at-home vegetarians, because we USUALLY eat vegetarian at home (pay no attention to the pot roast I made when the in-laws were visiting a couple weeks ago!).  I've pretty much stopped buying meat to cook at home though because neither of us really desire it.  I was trying to explain the shift to my mother-in-law recently and mentioned that I really don't feel like we lost anything by eating less meat at home.  I've gotten creative with making recipes I used to make with meat (you'll see one at the end of this post) with veggies instead and it's opened me up to making a whole different spectrum of food.  Read Emily's blog and you'll see that there are so many cool vegetarian food recipes to be made if you need inspiration!

 Now, when we're out of the house, it is another story.
  I think for both of us the convenience factor is a pretty huge one in our not being fully vegetarian.  It's pretty easy for us to eat mainly vegetarian at home when I have the control and the possibilities of what to cook are sort of endless, but when we're out it can be more of a pain.

My husband obviously travels a lot and though he usually attempts to find or bring healthy vegetarian options with him on trips, I know he's faced the fact sometimes he barely gets in one meal a day. If this is the case and the option at hand happens to be the double arches, he may cave and have a burger to quench the hunger pains, which I think is understandable.
As for me, my "convenience factor", is more that there is often not a ton of availability of vegetarian options.  I know many vegetarians make this work by having side dish plates and getting creative with menus.  I have to admit though, if I'm at a place where there are maybe two actual vegetarian options and many many appealing looking meat options, I may go with the meat option if the veggie option doesn't sound that wonderful to me.  The other thing is that while I may order a non-meat entree while out, I'm not checking to see if it was cooked without chicken stock or bacon grease like a proper vegetarian would.  I'm not ready for that total overhaul at this point in my life.  I don't want to sound completely complacent and lazy about it, but I just have to admit that convenience and availability is a definite factor in why I'm not a full on vegetarian.  I also just like the variety in sometimes eating meat and sometimes not.

Hopefully that addresses how we eat...  Any questions?

 All of that being said, here's an easy recipe for my mid-western meat-and-potato eater turned semi-vegetarian that, in my opinion, brings the best of both traditional/comfort/meaty food and vegetarian cuisine together.
By the way, Greg and I really like the veggie crumbles for certain applications such as this one.  I also like to use it in Mexican dishes.  I know simulated meat is a controversial thing to many vegetarians, but to make traditional meaty things like Shepards Pie, I think it is pretty awesome and you could potentially fool your meat eater into thinking this was meat with this dish pretty easily.

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

"Meat" layer:
1 box of Lightlife Smart Ground Veggie Crumbles
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove
  2 teaspoons of dry minced onion (you could use fresh onion too)
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1/3 cup of milk

Potato Layer:
2 medium potatoes (i used white with the skin on)
 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine
1/4-1/3 cup of milk
salt and pepper

1 cup of frozen peas (or you could use corn)
3/4 cup of cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash potatoes and pierce to let steam out.  Microwave for about 5 minutes til cooked through.

While potatoes are cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat.  Melt butter and add the mushrooms and garlic, cooking til tender.  Add the thyme, onion, and veggie crumble and cook til veggie crumble is warmed (a couple minutes).  Sprinkle flour and add milk stirring to form a rue/sauce.

Once potatoes are done, cut them up (they will be hot so be careful!) and throw them in a bowl with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.  I smashed mine with a big fork, or you could use a potato masher.
Cook frozen peas for about 3 minutes in microwave.
Now get a casserole dish and spread the "meat"/mushroom layer first.  Then add the peas for the next layer.  Then the smashed potatoes.  Top with cheese and put in oven for about 10-15 minutes.  I used my broiler setting for about the last 4 minutes or so to make the cheese bubbly on top.

PS, I obviously need more practice with my camera, I'm getting a lot of blurry food shots as of late!


Kerri said...

You and your husband sound so much like me and my husband when it comes to eating habits! When I first met my hubby, he was definitely a daily meat eater, although I think a lot of it was because he didn't know how to cook much beyond steak and burgers :) But he's 100% open to all kinds of foods and loves veggies as much as I do, so now we eat 95% vegetarian at home. Like you guys, we're not true veggies, because we do eat meat from time to time (last night I made a pumpkin chili with ground turkey) but I am so grateful that he's not picky about food and will gladly eat tofu stir fry for dinner. :)

Joanna said...

I have been trying more and more to take meat out of our diet. We still eat it, without reservations, but if I can avoid it I will.

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