This is how you feed a vegetarian.

Photo used with Creative Commons License from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ligthelm/10866943666/

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with vegetarianism for ten years. I blogged about it as far back as five years ago on this blog. The last few years have been mostly meat free for me and I’d really like to keep it that way.

However it is not easy. Especially living in Idaho where cows are a staple ingredient in salad. I used to have a job where we had to take people out to eat all the time. I became accustomed to eating french fries and a side salad for lunch because they were the only things I could have.

I understand that vegetarians aren’t the norm. We get that people are accustomed to eating slightly different variations of the meals we eat, but I assure you it is not as hard as people are making it to feed vegetarians. Here are a few tips that I think can walk you through the process if you are making the attempt to cook a meat-free meal.

1) Pick a meal. Almost any meal. OK, not pot roast. I’m not going to go through the intricacies of making a vegetarian pot roast. Let’s say for the sake of brevity that you pick enchiladas. Good choice! Let’s move on.

2) Pick a vegetable. Notice I didn’t say “Pick ALL the vegetables.” This is what vegetarian food tends to resemble far too often. All the vegetables in the refrigerator end up on the same dish, just because it is made for a vegetarian. I know this will come as a shock, but we don’t actually want to eat them ALL at the SAME TIME. Crazy, right? But imagine you are eating your version of the same food. Let’s say chicken enchiladas, and you bite into a piece of broccoli. Or a carrot. NOTHING makes vegetarians angrier than carrots in Mexican food. Since we’re making enchiladas, let’s choose mushrooms. OK, throw in a few bell peppers and onions too. But if you go close to that turnip in the fridge then I need you to start over with this step.

3) Cook the meal without meat. I know this might sound simple, but you have no idea how often it gets messed up. Here are a few important things to remember.

-Chicken is actually a meat. I’m not sure where this confusion came from. but I promise you it is rampant.

-Chicken stock is actually ALSO meat. It might be in liquid form, it might be from that tricky “animal” a chicken, but it is still meat.

-Extra cheese isn’t actually required to compensate for the lack of meat. Double cheese pizza, double cheese enchiladas, and double cheese lasagna aren’t necessarily the only things you can cook for vegetarians. Especially when you use chicken stock to make them.

4) Cook the meal in the same method you would if it had meat in it. Here is the very uncomplicated part of making vegetarian food that people make very complicated. You cook the meal in the same fashion you would, with the same seasoning you would (except chicken broth) and with the same sides that you would serve it with (unless pot roast was going to be your side dish. If you were going to serve pot roast as a side dish to vegetarians, go back to step 1). For our enchiladas we will satay and season the SELECT type of vegetables, we will stuff the enchilada shells, we will smother them with sauce and a SMALL portion of cheese, and we’ll bake them. Then we’ll serve them with delicious rice and beans. Here are some things we won’t do.

-Don’t salt or season anything.

-Leave the vegetables raw producing a weird enchilada salad.

-Add extra layers of vegetables on top of the enchiladas because vegetarians can’t get enough vegetables.

We have almost completely cooked a vegetarian meal. There is only one more important step to complete our endeavor.

5) Don’t add meat on top of the meal because “hey, people can pick it off.” And yes, this even includes strips of bacon.

Congrats! You did it. Next time, we’ll talk about all the things you need to stop doing with tofu.

6 comments

  • I laughed at the carrots in Mexican food! I once ordered a vegetarian burrito and it came with carrot in the filling– it was one of the most “wtf” dining out moments I have ever had.

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  • Moxie in the Making

    Haha, love it! I’m vegetarian, and I recently had a great conversation with a very confused woman. People just don’t get it!! My conversation went something like this.
    Her: Wait. You don’t eat any meat? What about cheese?
    Me: I eat cheese and eggs and all that. I’m not vegan, just vegetarian.
    Her: Oh! So what about fish?
    Me: No, no fish. (Not pescetarian.)
    Her: Oh. Then, not even chicken right?
    Me: Right. No meat, including fish or poultry.
    Her: Wait. But do you eat steak??

    This was following ten minutes of her trying to persuade me to eat a hot dog.

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    • It is baffling to me how confused some people are about what is an animal and what isn’t!

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      • I think it ties into the deeper issue of people not knowing where their food comes from. If it isn’t moving around with bones, skin, and life intact, people can easily forget what meat is. I know people who refuse to eat meat off bones because it’s “too icky” for them. (Read: too real) And by the time meat gets processed down to hot dog form – forget it. It no longer remotely resembles anything edible, let alone anything living.

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  • When I was in grad school, my roommate was a vegetarian (this was 20+ years ago), and I will always remember the restaurant that had “Vegetarian Lasagna with Meat Sauce” on the menu. And how the waiter didn’t seem to understand why this was a problem 🙂

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