Monday, September 26, 2011

The Veggie and the Carnivore............

The Veggie and The Carnivore............... sounds like a new reality show, doesn't it? Well, it is kind of a reality show- MY reality!

Can a Vegan and a meat-eater co-exist in a peaceful relationship? How about living together under the same roof?  It's not easy.......but it is possible!

In a perfect world, the men I choose to date would be tree-hugging, animal-loving, plant-eating guys. For some strange reason, I am not attracted to those guys. I can't figure it out so I am learning to deal with it.  I tend to gravitate toward the hard-working, flannel shirt or uniform clad guy who orders a burger for lunch and drinks beer with his buddies. Show me a cow and I immediately see a sweet. loving, gentle creature born to graze happily in a field eating grass. My guy sees dinner! These differences can cause some  problems, especially when it comes to cooking or sharing a meal together. It's been an issue in every relationship I've ever had, but I always managed to work around it. How? By being flexible, accomodating and never, ever snobby or condescending about my way of eating.

This doesn't just apply to love relationships. I have my son living with me and he is a meat-lover. He works hard every day and a simple meal of tofu, brown rice and steamed veggies is just not gonna do it for him.  He comes home from work with a huge appetite and he wants dinner. Most of the time, this means meat!

So what's a Vegan Mama to do? Hand him a frying pan and make him cook his own meals? Yes, he's a big boy and he's quite capable of fixing his own dinner. But I'm the mama and I work primarily from home.  My job is far from laborious and I am not commuting four hours a day to and from work. I'm not walking in the door at 8PM every night exhausted and starving. My son is!  So I cook. He eats.  He could stop off at the local drive-thru and order a burger and fries but I don't want him to do that. That's even worse for his health than eating a piece of chicken. So, occasionally, Mama cooks meat! I cry every time I do. I also take a moment and thank the chicken, turkey or fish for offering its life to provide nourishment.

Fellow Vegans, please don't hate me for this! I wish everyone could be a Vegan like me but I know it's just not possible. So, I need to make it work..............with love, kindness and respect.

Whether you are a die-hard Vegan or Vegetarian living with a Carnivore or you just want your family to start eating less meat, here are some tips on to how survive and few ways to sneak in some plant-based meals:

If you MUST cook meat, make it a condiment rather than the main focus of the meal.
Forget the huge pot roast surrounded by a few token potatoes and vegetables soaking in grease.  If your family loves pot roast or rib roast or any other type of roast, they will love it even more if you reserve it only for special occasions. Day to day meals should consist of very little meat, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.  Think chicken stir-fry with loads of fresh veggies over brown rice, turkey or chicken fajitas with peppers and onions in soft, whole wheat tortillas, grilled chicken, turkey or salmon over fresh greens or tossed salad. Always serve a couple of different vegetable dishes and a salad to go with the meat at dinner time.  When and if you do serve meat, avoid making heavy, starchy dishes to go along with it. Forget potatoes au gratin, Rice-a-Roni and egg noodles smothered in gravy.  Cook baked potatoes instead of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. Chicken and marcaroni and cheese might be delicious together but that's just fat on top of fat. Try oven baked sweet potato fries instead. Or don't serve a potato or rice dish at all. Serve vegetables. Lots of vegetables. 

Substitute chicken or turkey for beef and pork as often as you can. If your partner enjoys fish, serve it once or twice a week. Wild salmon is quick and easy to prepare. Don't ever buy farmed salmon. Ham is awful, full of fat and usually loaded with salt. Just don't serve it.  Instead, purchase the best quality, anti-biotic and hormone-free, organically fed, free-range poultry you can afford. A big sale on chicken legs at the local market is no bargain, especially if the poor chickens have been mistreated, crammed in cages with hundreds of other chickens, and fed a continuous diet of antibiotics, hormones, corn and fillers. Your family is ingesting all that garbage and bad energy!

If you must cook beef, make sure it's from a grass-fed cow that has been allowed to roam and graze freely.  You should know where your meat is coming from.  If you're not sure, ask. If you can't ask or have any doubts, don't buy it. If you can purchase it from a local farm, that's even better. Yes, it's more expensive to eat this way and while I despise the whole idea of slaughtering animals for food, if I must cook it, I need to know the animal has been treated kindly.  I don't cook beef. When I do prepare a meat dish, it's chicken, turkey or fish. Those are my rules. If someone wants something else, they can go elsewhere or cook it themselves.

Substitute Vegan/Vegetarian Alternatives as often as possible:
This is the key to my survival! It also prevents me from having to prepare two different dinners every single night. Who has time for that? Bean Enchiladas are delicious. Stuff whole wheat flour tortillas with kidney beans and cooked rice or vegetarian refried beans, add cooked peppers and onions, pour tomato sauce or salsa on top and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Top with some shredded vegan mozzarella or cheddar cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts. Good and satisfying. Hint: once it's melted, Vegan cheese is a great substitute for cheese made with milk in most casseroles and other baked dishes. Macaroni and cheese made from Vegan cheese just doesn't taste the same. I had to develop a taste for it and I like it but I know it's a bit of adjustment for most folks.  I don't get insulted if no one else likes it.

Make chili from beans instead of ground beef. Or try vegetarian "beef" instead. Morningstar Crumbles are perfect for this. You can also make delicious Sloppy Joes with it, too. Almost any recipe that calls for ground beef can be made vegetarian by using a meatless alternative: stuffed peppers, pasta with meat sauce, tacos. Use veggie meatballs in your tomato sauce to serve with spaghetti. Just toss them into the pot during the last five or ten minutes of cooking. When the veggie meatballs are covered in a good marinara sauce, it's hard to tell they are meatless.  Most ethnic dishes (especially Italian and Mexican food) can easily be converted to meatless meals with very little opposition. In fact, your loved ones might not even notice it's not meat. 

Meat alternatives are great for breakfast as well. Serve veggie sausage patties with pancakes and waffles. Crumble them into omelettes or scrambled eggs. Here's my little breakfast trick: I scramble tofu, add some tumeric (to make it yellow) add some crumbled veggie sausage and a tablespoon of salsa. This is so good! You can serve just like that, or pile it into a wrap, roll it up and VOILA! Breakfast to go! Get creative and have fun!

On the evenings that I do cook meat, I make something different for myself. Sometimes I cook a veggie burger or enjoy a slice of lentil loaf, baked tofu or a rice and bean dish.  Everything else I serve at dinner time, I can eat.

Practice, don't preach.
Nothing turns a person off more than your constant whining and complaining about their meat-eating ways. Whether it is their preference or simply the way they were raised, it is important to them. They might think they will wither away if they don't have meat. Accept them for who they are and never insult them. Lose the superior attitude. Perhaps we think we are more enlightened because we don't eat meat, but a truly enlightened person never puts herself above anyone else or judges them for being different. You want to win people over to a healthier, plant-based diet by your example, not by beating them over the head or making them feel awful when they bite into their burger. Just continue to subsitute with alternatives when you can and be gracious and accomodating when they request something special. My son recently asked for a Rotisserie Chicken so I went out and bought one for him.  Believe me, I didn't want to, but watching him enjoy it was priceless!

This is important::  Never lie about a meal.  If it's not real meat, don't try to pass it off as such. I might not offer information about a particular meatless dish I serve, but if someone asks, I tell the truth. Be honest. If your family or significant other knows you doing all this out of love, they will be willing to try it. If they hate it, don't serve it to them again. And make sure you have a back-up dish ready or be willing to order a pizza!

All relationships are about give and take and mutual respect. They will never work any other way- whether it's with your lover, your parents, or your kids.  Always rememer this and you will do just fine..........

And this is my Daily Cyn......

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