Let’s begin by being plain and stating:

diets high in red meat and processed meat shorten life span not just from cancer and heart disease but from Alzheimer's, stomach ulcers and an array of other conditions as well.

Those are not my words but those of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. 

Also it is probably true that compared to meat eaters, vegetarians have lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and obesity.  Additionally, it is also probably true that livestock accounts for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 8% of water use - and a meatless diet is 50% MORE effective at cutting CO2 than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.

With that as a banner to this discussion, let’s go farther:

I am a vegetarian.  That means I eat vegetables.  Yea.  I also eat fruit and nuts.  I also eat meat.  So there. 

I have some friends who have not eaten meat in 499 years - and they look it - and they will chuckle sarcastically if they hear me proclaim my vegetarianism.  That’s because they became vegetarian at a church service somewhere and undertook it as a form of celibacy wherein they will NEVER eat any form of meat again, and I am beneath their culinaristic dignity.  Any of my kids though, will snort if they hear me say that I eat meat.  “Yeah, like when?”

The idea that in order to be a “vegetarian” you must commit to never eating meat again has actually prevented the popularism of vegetarianism.  Too many people have been programmed to think that eating vegetarianism is like jumping off of a cliff, and so they never learn of the wonderful world that lies right before all of us.

Note that I said I eat vegetables.  That is true, but it is more to the point  to say that I eat “vegetarian” - and that’s a LOT more than just opening up a can of corn, a can of peas and a can of beans, then heat and eat.   It is more like a form of art  where vegetables are heated (usually) with appropriate spices and mixed together, and usually placed on a carrier like rice, pasta, potato or something else like egg or bread.  

I eat vegetarian because I like the TASTE of the food.  I also like the way I feel after I have eaten a good vegetarian meal.  Most of the meat that I eat is almost in the form of an accent to the meal.  A small amount of sausage or bacon crumbled in the meal provides an interesting taste for me and I love some pepperoni or sausage on pizza.   I like a little bit of chicken, preferably pulled apart and richly moistened in gravy.    And I like gravy on potatoes and rice and pasta although I seldom have any.   I also will eat a steak if I am at someone’s house as a guest and that is what they have provided, and I have eaten a million hamburgers - although my last burger was probably eaten close to 20 years ago.

Now back to the Art of Vegetarianism.  One might liken it to a symphony.  The onions freely share their great power and aroma which is far beyond what they need for themselves, and they can carry these overtones into other foods.  Peppers have a richness and moisture that fills in flavorful mixtures, carrots and zucchini provide a rhythm and melody like drum and flute.  One might think of tomatoes spreading continuity throughout the meal like a piano undertone and the spices and herbs would be the brass and woodwinds. The oil, olive oil, would carry the tastes and flavors as the ambiance and acoustics in the music hall carry the melodies and rhythms.

Overstatement? Well, perhaps.  Perhaps though it also understates the wonder of a well prepared vegetarian meal.  Who should you believe?  Yourself!  I have provided a few “starter” recipes.  Give them a whirl, see what you really think.  (And remember, you wouldn’t just pick up a violin and put on a show - you might want to practice and then put on a few performances for forgiving friends)  But above all - Enjoy!  

Elements of the Feast

Tools of the Art.


Organic or not-organic?