Monday, September 24, 2012

Surprise! You Already Eat Vegetarian Dishes! #meatlessmonday

Ask most people about Vegetarian Food and their responses will vary but most will have a general theme of doing without. Comments will be diverse, everything from "no protein" to "no flavour" to "no crunch" to "no fun." Sadly perceptions and reality of vegetarian cuisine are about as different a week shoveling snow and a week long holiday vacation in Barbados.

 Foods that meet the criteria of being vegetarian are all around us, and most of us have eaten some of them in the last week, we just didn't realize they were vegetarian!

Parameters need to be set. Sir Paul McCartney's definition of "not eating anything with a face" is by far my favourite but serious wordies would have issue with that definition (along with the term 'wordie') so let's get serious for a moment.

 While vegetarianism has been around for thousands of years the word first found its way into English around 1839 with irregular formation from vegetable (n.) + -arian, as in agrarian. Popular use seems to have come from the creation of the Vegetarian Society in Ramsgate in 1847. Classically defined a vegetarian is a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.

A vegetarian is different from a vegan in that a vegan does not eat any animal products including dairy, eggs, and honey. (Vegetarians do consume these foods) Vegan was first used in 1944, which came as a surprise to me as I somehow thought it was a flower-power inspired word but actually was defined near the end of World War II.

So what are these vegetarian dishes that we all eat but may not realize they are vegetarian? A partial list includes :

Macaroni and Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies French Toast Blueberry Pie
Belgian Waffles with Maple Syrup Risotto Butternut Squash Soup Green Bean Casserole
Corn Bread Stuffing Apple Pie Chocolate Ice Cream Spaghetti in Marinara
Eggplant Parmigiana Donuts Frosted Flakes Cheese Pizza Cream of Mushroom Soup
Egg Foo Yung Roasted Sweet Potatoes Creme Brulee Falafel Lasagna Western Omlettes 
Palek Paneer Rice Pudding Oatmeal with Dates and Nuts Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Chili Fettucine Al Fredo Ravioli Edamame Bleu Cheese Fondue
 Penne With Vodka Sauce Dill Pickles

Once we start getting over the idea that vegetarian dishes are ones that do without, perhaps we'll be confortable eating more of them. (and yeah, I included the treats in the list just to show that not everything vegetarian is health food, there is fun food too!)