For quite a while now, Shuwen and I are eating mostly vegetarian. Maybe one could say that we’re “home-cooking vegetarians”: we don’t buy food products from dead animals anymore for ourselves, and when we go out and there are vegetarian options, we gladly take them. When there are no vegetarian options (or they’re kinda “meh”), we pick chicken or fish dishes, and at least try to avoid the red meats. And when friends invite us over, we just eat whatever they serve (as long as it doesn’t contain cilantro, in my case, ahem). It’s not a religious thing. No reason to make a fuzz about it. Actually, “going public” in a blog post like this is a bit contradictory, I guess. 🙂 But please, read on.
So we take an easy route to being vegetarian, and I’d like to add that it is very much driven by health concerns, after watching documentary movies like “Forks Over Knives” (it’s on Netflix and available for streaming, and I wholeheartedly recommend it).
“The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.”
We all just eat way too much meat, and it’s bad for us. And bad for the planet. Yep, a little bit of green thinking was part of our decision as well. And not adding to the suffering of animals anymore is a great feeling, there’s no denying it. Sure, going vegan would be more consequential, but, one step at a time…
Actually, I’ve been living a vegetarian lifestyle before in Germany for a while, and one of the toughest things was to have breakfast or a cold supper without cold cuts of some sorts (cooked ham, turkey breast, salami, prosciutto, etc.). Bread, butter, cold cuts, mustard, pickle – it’s just something typically German. 🙂 Vegetarian spreads and stuff just didn’t make me happy. But now, I replaced the cold cuts with lettuce. Really! I put some layers of thick, fresh and buttery lettuce on my bread, add mustard, pickle, maybe a slice of cheese (we’re not vegan). The lettuce has a great crunch and I can have an (open) sandwich that I thoroughly enjoy. Just a lenghty side note. Are my blog posts famous for digressions like that?!
There’s been an interesting development (now this is continuing from where I said “please read on” above, finally). When we’re eating out and choose meat (deliberately, or when there’s no choice), it tastes weird. There’s no other way of saying it. It’s as if our sense of taste for meat has heightened. Pork is particularly strange – you know, when a certain person has a Ramen craving, for example – it has a strong gamey taste that is not really pleasant.
The other thing is that we both begun to really crave leafy, crunchy greens like kale. When we need a quick dinner, we toss a bag of organic, washed & pre-cut kale into the wok with some finely chopped onions and olive oil, add garbanzo beans, spice it up with some chili flakes, drizzle some lemon juice over it, and eat it with polenta or leftover rice and it’s so good, we need that stuff every couple of days. I would have never imagined that!
It’ll be interesting to see where this journey takes us. It of course helps to live in a city like San Diego – we can choose from plenty of supermarkets with great fresh and organic produce options, and there are many vegetarian choices on restaurant menus (hell, even a vegetarian fast food chain!), and restaurants usually also gladly provide substitutions.
I’d like to add one thing. We don’t buy “meat substitutes”. No fake turkey on the sandwich. No “chikin” nuggets. That sort of thing. I think it’s important to get the “meat think” out of the system, or to at least keep it clearly separated. Works well for us!
 which, to our surprise, includes many of the “craft-beer & burgers” places around here – that sounds completely odd at first, but most of them have at least one vegetarian burger on the menu. Which means they have a veggie black bean patty! Which means you can substitute every other burger as well, usually. 🙂
 and actually, that’s one of the things that I find annoying about some vegetarians and vegans – how they’re wearing their choice like an emblem or medal, even. Yes, I’m thoroughly convinced that eating no meat or less meat is the right choice, but everyone has to realize that for her- or himself. I do want to provide an incentive to ask more questions and do a little research with this blog post, of course.
 kale unfortunately is one of the greens to be considered “dirty” and you should buy organic as often as possible – the “Whole30” website has a nice blog post about seasonal produce, it contains a PDF with a seasonal produce guide – I stored it on my phone to have quick access to it when I’m shopping.