Saturday, January 30, 2010

I miss meat

This week has been stressful, and my enthusiasm for this experiment is waning.  I went out for Thai food on Thursday and all of the specials had meat or seafood.  I miss seafood.  Prawns, muscles, clams, salmon...they're just so good!  And healthy!  All those Omega-3s. 

But for the sake of the experiment, I passed the special paper to the side and looked at the vegetarian section.  My dish, the Vegetarian Curry, was undoubtably delicious, but I just miss having options.  That's the tough part.  I'm tired of immediately negating so many yummy options.  I don't even allow my mind wonder nor mentally taste those dishes.  They are not choices for me right now. 

I went to friend's house last night to unwind after a crazy week of National Boards mania.  The wine hit the spot, but I had to pass on the jambalaya she made in her crock pot.  The spicy smells of chicken, prawns, tomatoes, onions and rice filled the house.  I settled for some salad and chips.  I had eaten earlier (more vegetarian pho) so luckily I wasn't actually hungry.  But it stinks to be the only person not eating the main dish.  Not even just a little bit in order to compliment the chef.  I feel like a whinner today.  I miss meat.  Whaaaaaaaaa!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegetarian Threat= Pubs

If the best place for a vegetarian-experimenter is the yoga studio, then the worst place is a pub with friends.  The friends offer alcohol and distractions that are usually welcome.  At the Nickerson Street Saloon on Sunday, the entertainment was good, but the health benefits were low.  I finally decided to order a breakfast burrito, but was so embarrassed by my loud, drunk friends, I forgot to mention to hold the ham and bacon.  The enormous block of burrito came to the table with a thud.  All six of us plowed in and I tried my best to avoid the chunks of meat.  I'm sure I ingested some. 

The truth is that I don't really care about the meat; I just want to succeed at the experiment.  Obvious lesson of the day: environment makes a huge impact on health/eating choices.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yoga Day

This morning I celebrated International Yoga Day at my favorite yoga studio, the Hatha Yoga Center.  The 10:30 beginners' class was relaxing and rejuvinating.  Afterwards, we chanted Kirtan and enjoyed free healing services like massage and reiki.  The comfort I often look for in other people comes to me easily in yoga.  The self-care, breathing and calm reassurance leave me feeling peaceful and optimistic.  I value this yoga sanctuary so much.

This is also one place I never have to ask the question, "Is there meat in that?"  My incredible yoga teachers, Bob and Ki, are vegan, and only offer non-dairy, non-meat dishes.  I know most people would be skeptical, but they are delicious!  I don't have any of the recipes, but I just enjoyed warm chai, 15-bean soup and a variety of dips with bread or tempe without thinking or needing to question.  We helped Ki set out food while Bob hooked up stretching swings from the ceiling and wooden ramps for more yoga play.

It's easy to be vegetarian when surrounded by the right people.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Question

The trickiest part of this month's experiment is training myself to ask the question, "Does that have meat in it?"  A normally open and adventurous eater, I don't like the way this question sounds.  It comes across as picky, too good or otherwise restricting.  It doesn't feel good to cut things out, even things I don't particularly love.

On Sunday, I was having lunch with my family at home.  Luckily my dad prepares healthy and vegetarian-friendly meals.  This time he made a huge salad and twice baked potatoes with a carrot and cauliflower stuffing.  He also made chicken and gravy.  I don't normally eat much meat, but as soon as it's forbidden, I want it.  That's how it works.  That's why underage drinkers go so overboard.  The "forbidden factor" makes it so much more appealing.  This time I resisted temptation and didn't eat the chicken nor gravy (that darn chicken broth again).

That same night, I was at a friend's house watching the Golden Globes.  She prepared delicious snacks like chips and salsa and spinach dip.  She also made a sandwich and offered me a bite.  I, being the lover of good food, tried a big bite.  I chewed and thought to myself, "Yummy!"  Only then did she tell me the meats and cheeses it contained.  My mouth is also not trained to reject meat.  My mouth, and probably stomach, still give the green light to meat.  I'm still working on mastering the timing and delivery of the important question, "Does that have meat in it?"

I haven't been beating myself up over these mistakes.  I just vow to learn and take note as I move on in my culinary world.  Last night I tried a new spin on my brown rice recipe.  Instead of the bouillon cube, I stirred in a can of cream of mushroom soup towards the end.  My friend, Jamie, recommended it, and the rice turned out great!  The rice wasn't dry, and the soup added flavor and texture.  But even buying soup has turned into a learning experience.  I couldn't believe the different between the Amy's soup and traditional Cambell's soup ingredient lists.  For three times the price, you get a short list of natural, vegetarian and simple ingredients in Amy's soup.  To me, it was worth it.

As I continue this experiment with truth, I'm trying to embrace my new food question, "Is there meat in that?"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vegetarian Restaurants

I love to try new foods and explore new places.  This month's experiment is a perfect opportunity to enjoy some of Seattle's many vegetarian restaurants.  I suspect many of my friends would be willing to try these new places even if they're not vegetarians.

I already love Pho Cyclo Cafe at Harrison and Broadway on Capitol Hill.  The Vegetarian Pho warmed me up on the coldest nights of the winter with it's spicy broth, tons of veggies and amazing price of only $6.15.  I was even able to save some for lunch the next day.  Mmmmm.

Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe also has impressed me with its vegan sandwiches and pastries.  We stop in after yoga class in the U District.  It has a very earthy vibe and is one of the only Certified Organic restaurants in the area.

Here are some places I'd love to try this month:

Carmelita in Greenwood.  The pictures of the dining area, bar and patio look beautiful.  This could be a romantic date spot if I could ever find a guy that's willing to give up meat for the night.  Wish me luck on that part.

Near me in Capitol Hill resides Teapot Vegetarian House.  As I read the description I notice the menu is also very vegan friendly.  My yoga teacher is vegan and has prepared some delicious dishes, so I'm open to try the non-daily options.  I'm thinking about inviting my friend Jessica, who is allergic to dairy.  This may be her new heaven.

The vegetarian restaurant, Sutra, definitely intrigues me.  I recognize the name because they have hosted benefits for the group, Yoga Behind Bars.  I teach a free community class for YBB and have published items in their quarterly zine.  Any place that supports them, may need my support as well.  I'm eager to check them out!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Month One: Vegetarianism

This month, January 12- February 12, 2010, I am experimenting with vegetarianism. 

Last weekend I went to the Intention Setting Ceremony for the Seattle Dharma Punx, a self-led buddhist meditation group. 

There, I started to learn more about Buddhism and the Noble Eightfold Path.  As Rachel, the leader, was explaining it, she mentioned the "rule" that thou shall not kill.  People interpret this differently.  Of course we should not kill other people.  Some people take it to mean that we should not kill animals for food.  Finally others, perhaps some Buddhist monks, bow down to honor the worms they squish in the ground when walking.  As with everything in life, there are many interpretations.

After some research, I'm learning that the Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkha) and the achievement of self-awakening.

I'm connecting my vegetarian experimentation with Right Action.  This also seemed like a natural place to start because my diet is already focused on mostly fruits and vegetables.  But in the first few days I've discovered one thing: chicken broth.  The stuff is everywhere! 

That little yellow cube called a bouillon cube made its way into my brown rice this week.  I've been cooking with the things without actually knowing what they are.  Wikipedia taught me that it is made by dehydrating vegetables, meat stock, a small portion of solid fat (such as hydrogenated oil), salt (usually well over 50%) and seasonings (usually including monosodium glutamate) and shaping them into a small cube. Long story short, it's NOT vegetarian.  Shoot.

The very next day I was preparing my lunch when I discovered that my yummy organic curried red lentil soup also has chicken broth in it.  Damn it!

As I stumble with this first attempt, I forgive my initial mistakes.  The learning, as opposed to perfection, is the objective.