My grandmother, a life-long Southerner who would put meat powder in her coffee if it were socially acceptable, would emphatically say yes. At dinner during a family gathering where everyone else ate hamburgers hot off the grill, I was cutting up a veggie burger for my two-year-old and my grandmother said, “I don’t understand what you eat. It’s all side dishes.”
My mom, who had just lived in our vegetarian household for a month, jumped in with a glowing review about how wonderful our meals had been, to which my grandmother replied:
“I don’t know how you made it that long without eating meat. I cried for you.”
Yikes. The very idea of my mom subsisting on a vegetarian diet for a month sent my grandmother into an angst-ridden tailspin that ended in tears.
Okay. I get it. Hers was an extreme response. Over twelve years as a vegetarian I’ve been called a lot of things. Elitist. Hostile. Loony. To name a few.
The good news is that the tide is turning. There are more choices for vegetarians in restaurants. Vegan lunch carts are popping up on the streets. Even meat lovers like Chef Mario Batali are acknowledging that meat production has an enormous carbon footprint.
This week, the Environmental Working Group released the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health. In it is a staggering statistic – if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it’s like not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Other research indicates that this would also free up enough land, water and energy from livestock production to feed 40 million hungry people.
So why is eating less meat one day a week too much to ask? Many of us are willing to buy pricier light bulbs, use our bikes instead of our cars, and separate our recyclables to do our part for the environment. What gives here?
The most reasonable theory I’ve come across is that it’s asking people to step out of their comfort zone. As Americans, we grow up on meals made up of a meat, potato, and side. Plus, our lives are so busy that the task of researching how to make vegetables the star of a meal is overwhelming.
I’m here to help. I’ve been invited as a guest writer on this blog to occasionally submit veggie-centric recipes. I’ll also do my best to include recipes that showcase local selections and result in zero waste.
Today’s entry is perfect for summer: Hearts of Palm Ceviche followed by an aromatic watermelon dessert.
Hearts of Palm Ceviche
1 14.5 oz jar hearts of palm, drained and sliced
5 saladette tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 red onion, diced
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
Popcorn or sautéed maiz cancha
Mix all ingredients, except the cilantro, in a shallow dish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours. Add cilantro just before serving. Serve ceviche in a bowl, topped with popcorn.
16 bamboo skewers
½ seedless watermelon, cut in 2-inch cubes
Juice and seeds from 2 large tomatoes (flesh can be added to ceviche, above)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 sprigs fresh lavender
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Lavender or borage flowers
Blend tomato juice and seeds, lemon juice, zest, olive oil and vinegar with a whisk in a small bowl. Place watermelon cubes and lavender sprigs in a shallow dish and pour liquid over them. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. When ready to serve, place one watermelon cube on a skewer and stand on a plate. Compost lavender sprigs. Drizzle with remaining liquid and garnish with lavender or borage flowers.
Have a recipe you’d like to share? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional resources: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/