Everyone’s food ethos is different and people make choices on what foods they eat for varied reasons. I’ve talked before about how Indians have mixed food philosophies in India, including both extreme vegetarians who don’t consume anything that even resembles meat like tomatoes, to those who consume lamb, goat, pork, chicken and even beef where beef eating is still considered taboo in certain areas of the subcontinent.
Any environmentalist would say eliminate meat consumption from the diet entirely to make a positive impact on the environment. The Food & Agriculture of the United Nation states, “livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.” These are the prominent messages we’ve been hearing for several years and most recently from authors like Jonathan Safer-Foer (Eating Animals, Back Bay Books, 2010).
However, we know that vegetarianism for many is clearly not feasible otherwise we all would have become pure vegetarians by now.
Cookbook authors Nettie Cronish and Pat Crocker have cleverly teamed together to put out a revolutionary cookbook that makes sense for all: The Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians & Meat Lovers Alike (Whitecap Books, 2011). I was very lucky to have the chance to attend the launch of the book this past week in Toronto at the one and only cookbook destination, The Cookbook Store hosted by Alison Fryer.
The flexitarian is a newer, less extreme philosophy that is simple—when thinking about the environment and better health, choose as many local, organic vegetables as possible for a meal. The meat on the other hand, should be almost like a trimming—you’ve heard the saying ‘less is more’. So when choosing meat and dairy products, select organically raised meats, organic milk and cage-free eggs. Although more expensive than conventional, the point is to eat better quality but less often.
The reality is that many families are neither here nor there. Many want to include more vegetarian options into their diets, but do not want to make a knee-jerk ‘on/off’ decision to choose meat or not to choose meat. For me becoming vegetarian was easy. I prefer to clearly mark my boundaries as ‘on/off’, black or white, and here not there which is not everyone’s cup of tea I understand. I’m learning there is something called the ‘happy medium’!
Nettie Cronish, a Toronto pioneer vegetarian chef, cooking instructor and natural foods advocate is known for her amazing vegetarian cooking classes in Toronto (and her famous vegetarian ‘neatballs’) brings so much value into this book for both novice and advanced cooks wanting to include more vegetarian options in their diets. The book is peppered with Nettie and Pat’s advice and tidbits on how to stock the pantry, how to make bases, stocks and pastes from scratch and what ingredient choices are best for health and the environment.
One of my favourites elements of the book (in addition to some of Pat’s mouth-watering food photography) are the chef’s tips, one being how to properly roast vegetables, found throughout the pages.
Recipe highlights include:
· Tofu (or Shrimp) Curry with Lime and Nut Butter
· Paella with Tempeh and Seitan (or Turkey) served in a Roasted Squash
· Tortilla Lasagna with Portobello and Greens
· Green Tea Cupcakes with Green Tea Glaze (yum!)
· and Bulgur Pudding with Candied Ginger and Dates
I made the Roasted Cashew Curry with Cauliflower and Peas (as seen on the book cover), of course spiked with extra heat using Arvinda’s Curry Masala.
Everyday Flexitarian is book that can help influence you and your family to eat better, wiser and most importantly, more delicious.
In my opinion, the release of this book is in sync with Earth Day, bringing forth the message that everyone can make even a small (or large) change for better health and the environment. Encouraging people to change their “carnivore” status to “flexitarian” is definitely positive!
Are you in a household where you balance vegetarianism with meat-eating? How does an average dinnertime work at your place?
And wishing you a Happy Earth Day, happy holiday weekend and Easter weekend too!
A teaspoon of: Andy Stochansky. Listening to: Here Nor There.