I’m contributing to this blog because I want to write about good food and, increasingly, for me, that means vegetarian cuisine. I don’t consider myself a vegetarian although I eat like one most of the time. Changes in my diet have been gradual and are ongoing. I stopped eating seafood for a number of reasons about four years ago. Not eating any seafood doesn’t qualify me as a vegetarian (it’s sometimes hard to know what does), but in the past year and a half I’ve pared down the meat in my diet by probably 90%, often going on streaks of vegetarianism for some months. I’ve been dabbling in this type of diet change for a couple of years now. I eat whatever I want whenever I want it, but I don’t want meals with meat as often as I used to. It seemed to me that the difficult part of being vegetarian would be eating out. Afterall I can cook anything at home and a lot of friends are on weird diets, trying to eat healthier, and/or cutting back on meat, so communal meals can usually accommodate vegetarian cuisine fairly easily.
While it’s easier to get vegetarian food at restaurants than it used to be, not all restaurants offer something besides a salad or baked potato. Surprisingly I haven’t had to change the restaurants I usually eat at. I’ve added a couple of vegetarian restaurants, though none are located near me, so the restaurants I go to when I’m eating vegetarian are mostly the same. A few years back I started looking for and choosing vegetarian choices when we ate out, until it’s become second nature for me. That’s not to say that I won’t crave and eat something else on occasion, but those are deliberate choices, and these days they’re infrequent occurrences.
My reasons for eating like a vegetarian most of the time are that I think it’s healthier and usually has less fat. Although here in Texas where everything is potentially deep-fried (I’ve read about, but haven’t tried, deep-fried butter) even vegetables are not necessarily healthy. 😉 I’ve also discovered that “vegetarian” ceases to be light when the word “buffet” is added to it. 😆
I’ve spent the past several years thinking about vegetarian food and talking about food with vegetarian friends. Vegetarians are often foodies. 🙂 It seems to me that a vegetarian diet isn’t about “dieting” because it isn’t about deprivation. (I’ve known vegetarians who were deeply into deprivation: it sort of seemed like they were vegetarians because it was more socially acceptable than being labelled anorexic. An unhealthy relationship with food is not, as far as I can tell, something that mainstream vegetarianism embraces.) Vegetarianism is about making and eating really good food with lots of fresh ingredients. It’s not about “getting by” without meat: it’s about abundance, flavor, and quality. Which is why, I think, vegetarian (and vegan) cuisine is becoming more popular. People are getting tired of pre-packaged assembly-line food, tasteless and barely tasted, mindlessly consumed. They want to eat good stuff. Because so many ingredients in vegetarian cuisine are very perishable, the food is fresh, flavorful and good. You can’t buy a boxed vegetarian casserole that can be reconstituted with water and nuked for five minutes in the microwave. (Though I’m sure someone in a food lab somewhere is working on that.) 😉
Everyone likes good food. 🙂 For me, that’s what making and eating vegetarian food is all about. I love experimenting in the kitchen and trying new recipes. Making vegetarian food has been an expansive cooking experience for me. I’m writing for people like me, who want to eat better, or people who are maybe cautiously dipping a toe into vegetarian cuisine and may be a bit concerned about it being a hassle finding something to eat with friends and family or are skeptical about how good the food can be. I’m writing here for the curious, the wannabes, and the “mostlys” like myself. The posts will be a mixture of personal essays and recipes. I hope my posts find an audience beyond people who identify themselves as vegetarians, because vegetarians and non-vegetarians all agree on one thing: we like good food. 😀