Eat Well: WWW says, "Eat your veggies!"

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When Rebecca was twelve, she burst into the house after school one day and announced dramatically that she would “Never eat meat again!!” I wasn’t all that surprised, really. She had been an animal lover since she was small, secretly rescuing snails I had bagged and thrown into the garbage and placing them back onto my plants. This fateful day, however, her Foods teacher had shown the class a movie called “Diet for a New America,” the first movie to my knowledge that exposed the atrocities of the Factory Farm, or the CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) as they are called by the government. She told me in graphic detail what she had learned but I put my fingers in my ears and didn’t want to hear the message. Although my most beloved cookbook was Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, the cult vegetarian cookbook of the 70’s, I still thought of meat as the main course and would plan my meals around what meat or fish I had bought for the night. I accepted and supported Rebecca’s decision, but I wasn’t going to make the same choice for the rest of the family. I also reasoned that the meat from the factory farms must be the really cheap meat, the fifty-nine cents a pound chickens and inferior grades of meat. I had driven across the country and had seen cattle grazing so I falsely assumed that those cattle were the ones WE were eating. Little did I know that those cows, too, were destined for the factory farm.

My decision to stop eating meat a couple of years ago was based on several simultaneous occurrences. An undiagnosed auto-immune condition lead me to several doctors of alternative medicine, and although they had different remedies, the one constant in their prescribed therapies was their recommendation to cut down or discontinue meat and dairy consumption. At the same time I was trudging from doctor to doctor, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and then The China Study. Between Michael Pollen’s descriptions of The Factory Farm and T Collin Campbell’s overwhelming evidence that animal protein acts as fertilizer for Western diseases, something clicked in my brain and I no longer could eat meat. This was a huge life change for me, especially since my favorite two foods since I had been little were lamb chops and rare roast beef. Larry sweetly decided to join me in my new diet as he had never particularly loved eating meat, anyway--but mostly, because he's the most supportive husband a girl could ever have. I jumped into our new life with a mixture of excitement and fear and over the past two years have developed a philosophy about how to enjoy, and prefer, a meatless existence, especially as a carnivore. (For those of you who eat meat and dairy but are looking for humanely raised sources, I suggest this website.)

I hope these tips will be helpful to those of you who might be thinking of taking the plunge into the wonderful world of a meatless diet:

1. Be authentic: Let the vegetables and whole grains take center stage and resist using processed meat or dairy substitutes. These pretenders don’t taste good and are highly processed. Vegetables, beans and grains, when cooked correctly, are amazing in their own right. Learn how to cook them so they shine!

2. Eat from the rainbow: By this I mean all different colors and types of vegetables, grains and beans, trying new ones and serving several at each meal. We don’t need protein, we need amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and by eating many different whole foods, you get all the amino acids you need to build your proteins. It is actually more efficient to make protein this way…when you eat meat, your body has to break down the protein into its individual amino acids in order to digest them. That’s why you get sleepy after a big meat-laden dinner!! I like belonging to a CSA--community supported agriculture--where you get a box of vegetables every week from a local farm. Many people don’t like the idea of getting a random box of vegetables because you don’t know what you are getting from week to week, but this is the very reason I love my CSA—I am forced to try new vegetables and stimulates me to be a more creative cook. (I will talk more about this in a future post).
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3. Don’t replace meat with carbs. Instead, cook more vegetables and serve carbs as a side dish.

4. Go through your cookbooks that you already have and mark which recipes work for you or that can be modified.

5. Buy a couple of great vegetarian cookbooks. Two of my favorite authors are Molly Katzen and Deborah Madison.

6. Use the internet as a source for new recipes. (Hello!)

7. Add umami to your meals and use foods high in umami to satisfy your meat cravings. Umami is the 5th taste and is the essence that we crave in meat. Foods high in Umami are seaweed, mushrooms (dark such as portabella, crimini, porcini, or shitaki), potatoes and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, parmesan cheese (and other aged cheeses), green tea, cornmeal, carrots, vinegar, eggs, fish sauce, miso, soy sauce or liquid Braggs, ketchup, truffle oil, red wine, buttermilk, peas, asparagus, capers, beans, red peppers, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, goat milk and goat milk products, and winter squashes. (More on this, too, in the future!)

Roasting elevates a vegetable to a level of ecstacy not experienced by any other cooking method, magically creating robust flavor, even in the most humble of vegetables. Adding parmesan cheese, goat cheese, or balsamic vinegar after they are roasted further increases the savory richness (umami) and satisfies all of my meat cravings.

When roasting vegetables, it is VERY IMPORTANT not to crowd the pan. Make sure they are in a single layer or else they will steam, not roast. You can use two pans if needed.
Also, cut the veggies into uniformly sized pieces so they cook evenly.

Here are some of my favorite roasted vegetable recipes:

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Crispy Kale

One of our favorite before dinner snacks. Kids love these...they are crunchy and you would never know they are made from kale! You can also fry the kale but it uses more oil (Here is a funny article in the NY Times about cooking fried kale with a 4 year old!)

4-6 cups kale, shredded and thick stems removed (I like curly kale best. See below.)
2 T olive oil
Sea salt
Optional shredded parmesan cheese
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curly kale

Preheat oven to 350. Wash kale and spin in a salad spinner until dry. Roll in towels to get completely dry (crispness depends on this!)
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Remember to dry well before drizzling oil.

Cut out thick stems and tear into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle oil over kale in a bowl and toss with your fingers until coated. Spread out on parchment lined cookie sheet (don’t bunch up) and bake for 12-20 minutes or until crisp.
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remember not to crowd kale.

Watch that these don’t brown as they can get bitter (although, I like them like that, too!) Keep checking to make sure they are crisp (you can squeeze the leaves with a pair of tongs to check). When they are crisp, take out and sprinkle with salt and/or Parmesan cheese. Serve as a snack or sprinkle on other dishes to add a wonderful flavor and crunch.
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For variation, toss with your favorite seasonings after they are crisp, or even a little sugar with the salt can be scrumptious! Yum!

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Roasted Green Beans
1 pound green beans
1 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
the zest of one lemon
freshly grated parmesan cheese (buy a good quality aged parmesan to increase umami)
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Preheat oven to 450. Cut beans into 2 inch pieces. Put in a pan with sliced onions and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. (Make sure the vegetables aren’t crowded and are in a single layer).

Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until the beans start to shrivel and the onions are getting crisp. Sprinkle with lemon zest and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. These go GREAT with Persian eggs and actually, any dish.
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zest!

You can substitute alone or combined, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, or broccoli. You can also substitute goat cheese or feta for the Parmesan cheese and toss with walnuts, pine nuts, or almonds. Great herbs to be added with the oil at coking time are thyme or rosemary. Once you start getting in the habit of roasting vegetables, it is fun to come up with different combinations.

(For those of you who don’t like cooked cauliflower, try roasting them! I have served these to cauliflower haters and converted them to lovers!)
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Roasted root vegetables
Any combination of the following: carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and winter squash cut into 1-2 inch pieces.
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1-2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
optional: garlic salt or dried herbs of your choice (I like thyme)
Coat vegetables with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in single layer in pan and roast at 450 for 20- 25 minutes, turning once with spatula.
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Serve plain or sprinkle with any aged cheese
(yummy with blue, especially if using sweet potatoes!!)
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***
The Most Delicious Potatoes Ever

Any potatoes (including sweet) or a combo of them (cut the potatoes one inch pieces)
½ onion, finely chopped
1 pepper finely chopped (I like Anaheim)
Toss with oil and salt and pepper. Cook until brown at 500 degrees, about 10 minutes.

Any vegetable is amazing roasted! Try them all and be creative. Turnips and radishes are delicious. Try something new such as celeriac or Jeruselum artichokes (sun choke--these are amazing, by the way!!) Parsnips are like ambrosia roasted…can’t get enough of them. A heaping pile of roasted vegetables served with a grain and a salad is one of our favorite and simple meals. Add Balsamic vinegar after roasting
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Ok…must go now… My mouth is watering so much, I need to roast me some vegetables!

WWW for GGC

54 comments:

SJ | 10:58 PM

this is wonderful, thank you so much! while i'm not ready to cut meat out of my diet, i definitely want to cut back.

Raan | 11:11 PM

Hi there! As someone who is vegetarian and never eaten meat in her life, I'm really happy to see the movement grow and mature in the U.S.

Just one thing, Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian. It contains animal rennet, as do many cheeses. In the U.K it's possible to find veggie cheeses in the local supermarket but that's not the case here.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:15 PM

Whoa, Raan. Thank you! I did NOT know that and have spent the last ten minutes looking up the whole rennet situation. Thank you for enlightening me! I had no idea! Ugh.

Stef | 11:31 PM

So true about the cauliflower. I was never a big fan until I had some that had been tossed in olive oil and seasonings, and roasted. It was sooo good!

Raan | 1:42 AM

I'm sorry, Rebecca for bringing bad news. I hate having to tell people when their favourite foods contain animal products. I've found this site quite helpful for sourcing veggie cheeses in the US: http://cheese.joyousliving.com/

Milk, yogurt and cheese more often than not contain something that can only come from a dead animal. My favourite brand would be Clover Stornetta for veggie friendly dairy products.

I hope this helps!

kath | 3:46 AM

loving the food posts... can I add smoked paprika & liquid smoke to the list of ingredients that add flavour depth.
MMMMM yum

Sydney | 4:32 AM

I have to say I LOVE these Eat Well posts. Whether you, Rebecca, or your mother - I sincerely hope you continue to post this series until you run out of ideas/ the internet explodes. I am going to get started on some of these tonight. Love the idea of crispy kale!

A Serious Girl | 5:08 AM

Am loving the Eat Well posts! I started roasting broccoli and cauliflower about a month ago, and it's become one of my favorite dishes. I had no idea I could roast kale, and root veggies, and green beans! SO excited to try these recipes!

rhea | 5:10 AM

I love the food posts, and this one really hit home for me- I've been loving my CSA (this is my first summer with one!) and have been eating healthier and cooking a lot more. Sometimes I get stressed out, but then I just start chanting my mantra of "balance, balance, balance!" That, or I just start chugging cooking wine from the bottle.
Keep 'em coming! Is there a GGC Mom website in our future? :))))

L-Burt | 5:37 AM

Love love love the eat well posts! I highly recommend the crispy kale (or kale chips as I call them) to anyone that hasn't tried it before. It's amazing! Even my health food hating fiancee has been known to eat a whole pan's worth! I've never tried parm on them before, but I will DEFINITELY be doing that the next time I make them. I love parmesan!

Lynzie | 5:49 AM

Thanks for this!!! My mom hates veggies, so I never learned how to cook them or what variety there is! I'm slowly learning, but it's hard to find good veggie recipes in this meat-y world.

I love my meat and never intend to get rid of it, but I'm so excited to see some veggie recipes! nom nom nom!

Cláudia | 5:52 AM

WWW, you rock!

becomingjolie | 5:58 AM

I love love LOVE these eat well posts! THANK you so much for the great ideas and resources! :)

erin | 6:42 AM

I was raised vegetarian and ate meat in college and during my first pregnancy. I gained 60 pounds and never felt crappier. It's been mainly meat free since then (although I have fallen victim to a non vegetarian sushi roll every now and then!)

I make two meat dishes a week for my children though...which makes me feel a bit guilty.

Crispy kale tonight!

Raddit | 7:07 AM

I echo the others here--I LOVE these posts! Rebecca, I introduced my little family (and myself) to quinoa last week and we all love it! And your mom ROCKS--I'm so excited to get started roasting some vegetables!

Chrissy | 7:10 AM

What a thoughtful and well-written post! Regarding the animal product-cheeses and what not, my humble suggestion might be to go into your local Whole Foods or Earth Fare or Trader Joe's and ask the folks working in the dairy for guidance. They're usually SO well-versed.

mel | 7:12 AM

Yum! I am loving this part of your site :)
You should add 'Eating Animals' to your list of book :)

You can read a review here: http://laboriousliving.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/eating-animals/

tina | 7:22 AM

this is a wonderful post. all such simple yet incredibly delicious ideas. i can't believe it had never occurred to me to roast beans. a friend just gave me a bunch from her garden so i'll be trying that right away. keep up these fabulous food posts!

Anonymous | 7:28 AM

I love these updates with *simple* ways to use a variety of vegetables. I am slowly fazing meat out of our diets and this helps immensely! I vote for a cookbook!

Anonymous | 8:10 AM

I absolutely love, love, love reading each and every 'Eat Well' post. I am inspired to try something new with my meals and veggies.
Thank you so much!

Anonymous | 8:24 AM

I love all the recipes - but would love even more if you could link to a quick PDF or something so that I can print them out!

Miss M | 8:31 AM

I am confused... I know there are several different kinds of vegetarian/vegan diets and lifestyles. My understanding (although possibly wrong!) is that vegetarians usually just don't eat meat itself (no chicken, fish, beef etc) and vegans don't eat any animal products including dairy (and don't usually buy any clothes etc that are made from animal products)... Am I wrong?

I love these food posts! I think they are enlightening and give people who are somewhat aware more to go off of, and resources to get better information... Keep them coming!

Heather O'Neill | 8:36 AM

I have really been inspired by these food posts. Thank you for all of them and please keep them coming!

Sydney | 8:54 AM

Miss M, your definitions of vegetarian and vegan are correct. The problem with parmesan and other cheeses in a vegetarian diet is not the dairy part, it's the 'rennet' which is used to coagulate or thicken the milk to make it into cheese.

Rennet is a combination of enzymes found in any mammal's stomach that helps it digest milk. It is usually calves rennet that is used in the production of cheeses, and it is this which will exclude it from those following a strict vegetarian diet.

leel | 9:53 AM

again, i learned SO much about eating. thanks WWW!

verdemama | 10:26 AM

Wendy (and Rebecca) should definitely write a cookbook! The Eat Well recipes have been great thus far and it's so inspiring that all these commenters are excited about eating healthfully and reducing/ending their meat consumption.

amandaelis | 10:48 AM

thanks for these food posts! have you heard about forks over knives? it's a new documentary featuring dr. campbell's work. check out the trailer:

http://forksoverknives.com/about/

Vee | 10:54 AM

I absolutely love these posts! Thank you so much. I've been eating quinoa now and I love it. It is so versatile and tasty and I will try these roasted veggie recipes next.

A million thanks WWW & GGC!

sunT | 1:22 PM

making those potatoes tonight! not a vegetarian but not really a meat eater. thanks!

Her Bad Mother | 1:24 PM

'Umami' is also the awesomest word, ever.

Heather | 1:34 PM

going to try the roasted kale tonight. I would love to see a future post about snacks for kids--could use some healthy inspiration

melani | 1:45 PM

speaking of rennet, a lot of people don't realize that gelatin is also animal derived. It is used in many things, esp yogurt and candy, that a vegetarian might eat. Because it isn't kosher, it's easier to find replacements.

Simon Kay | 1:54 PM

Thank you so much for this! I am JUST starting out as a vegetarian (this is only my second month) after contemplating the last two or so years. I am loving your recipes, they are so helpful! Keep it up, please and thank you!

Rebecca | 2:02 PM

Awesome, hooray for kale! Here are two of my favorite recipes that incorporate kale, and both are full meals! They're both from a great site about whole foods, especially for families.

http://www.cookusinterruptus.com/index.php?video_id=124 (you can use feta cheese instead of gorgonzola, pine nuts instead of sunflower seeds, dried cranberries instead of currants, you name it!)

http://www.cookusinterruptus.com/index.php?video_id=169 (I use quinoa heated in the microwave instead of fried rice, and poach the egg instead of frying)

faetra | 3:02 PM

I'm really enjoying this section of your blog, and all of these wonderful recipes. We eat meat in my house, but we try very hard not to be "meatcentric"- we don't have meat with every meal or even every day. Vegetarian alternatives are wonderful, but I would just like to point out that you can be just as healthy and environmentally responsible and be an omnivore. The most important thing is that you know where you food comes from and buy responsibly. Carbon emissions, antibiotics, bad fertilizers, bad farming practices etc are just as common in fruit and vegetables as they are in meat. I would rather give my child a burger made from ground beef from a local grass fed cattle farm than feed her a salad made from veggies that are loaded up with hormones and sprayed with chemicals. I guess I just have a few problems with the vegetarian/vegan movement and I don't mean to be critical of anyone here, your choice is your choice. But I've found way to many vegetarians lately standing a soap box about how they are friends of the animals because they don't eat them while wearing leather shoes. I'm not saying that is you, or anyone else that has commented but it is common place.

Wendy Woolf | 3:27 PM

Faetra... in both my egg post and this post I have included websites where humanely raised meat and dairy products can be found for those who are meat eaters. There is nothing wrong with being an omnivore. But our country (and now the world) has chosen to use inhumane practices to raise animals, and the labeling isn't reliable so unless you know from a reputable source how the meat is raised, you cannot be sure. (Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer describes this well). How we eat is, as you said, a choice and Rebecca and I have made the vegetarian choice, so of course our posts will reflect that. My purpose is to share with you my experiences and what I have learned as well as give some yummy ways to cook veggies--and those vegetables in my home are organic and locally grown.

Serenity Now | 3:36 PM

Loving these food posts! Just curious, I love roasted tomatoes, but I haven't experimented with doing them myself - got any tips? I've heard they are easy to mess up because they contain so much water.

Wendy Woolf | 3:56 PM

Serenity Now,
Ina Garten has a couple of great roasting methods that are full proof and delicious...low temp roast http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-tomato-caprese-salad-recipe/index.html and high temp roast http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-tomato-basil-soup-recipe/index.html. She always uses plum tomatoes (Roma)--I think the others might be too watery but I don't know for sure.

faetra | 4:03 PM

Wendy, I totally agree. I'm fortunate enough to live in an area (Brooklyn NY) where there are many resources available. I only buy my meat from two sources, one of whom I researched talk to at the farmers market, the other who sells out of our local Food Coop. We are fortunate enough to have that source and also fortunate enough that we can afford to make it a priority (it's very expensive to buy this way). The veggie recipes are very appreciated- we've made a few already and they've been a big hit!

I guess my point is that some vegetarians (I'm not saying you or Rebecca but just a lot I know personally) feel that they are healthier than those of us that choose to eat meat, or that they are somehow champions of the animal rights and environmental movement while not examining other choices they make. I'm not sure what it's like CA, but the biggest food scare we had here in NY recently came from ecoli and other bacteria outbreaks not in beef, but in romaine, broccoli and spinach. Corn production in this country is one of the biggest threats to the ecosystem we face.

The problem isn't with meat- it's the way all food is produced and manufactured. I read "Eating Animals" (love Jonathan Safran Foer), and it makes very valid points. But there are just as many valid arguments about the biological necessity of including meat with your diet as well.

What we need more than anything is more affordable options for families. Whole Foods is a joke for parents raising three kids on a salary of 30K in my city. I'm happy that the farmers market movement seems to be taking off, but we still have a long way to go.

flyrish | 4:10 PM

I'm really enjoying this Eat Well series, especially since I've been a vegetarian for 14 years now. I have chosen this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including plain dislike for the texture of meat. But sometimes I rely too heavily on cheese and bread to fill me up, so these veggie ideas are quite inspirational! Thank you!

Wendy Woolf | 4:56 PM

Faetra..we are totally on the same page. There are healthy ways to eat as an omnivore and healthy ways to eat as a vegetarian. There are also unhealthy and unethical ways to live as both. We as a nation need to address the way all food is raised and hopefully, with all of the interest and scholarly discussion that is happening right now, our policies will change and the subsidies can go to organic farms, not corn farms which raise masses of corn to feed animals whose bodies are designed to eat grass.

Amy | 4:58 PM

Thanks, Raan for reminding me about rennet. Somehow, I seemed to have let this one slide for a long time to the point where I forgot about it. If I am correct though, horizon organic and several other companies, have vegetarian cheese. I was a vegan several years but in the long run feel better allowing some dairy in my diet. And my daughter needs the fat content in her diet.

Rebecca, thanks highlighting the vegetarian way of eating on your blog.

Jaime | 5:07 PM

As long as you look into rennet-free cheeses (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc. label for this) you can happily eat cheese as a vegetarian.

candace | 6:37 PM

They do make some good rennet free cheeses, although more expensive. So many veggies don't realize that their cheeses aren't veggie.

Also, I might add that vegan cheeses are making huge leaps. Daiya is freaking amazing.

Can't wait to roast some veggies but definitely going to have to wait until the summer is over.

Really awesome recipes. As a vegan it is really great to find more recipes because it can get really boring sometimes. And kale rocks!

Jessica | 6:50 PM

I'm a vegetarian and my husband is not. I don't mind cooking meat (local and humanely raised/slaughtered), but it always plays second fiddle to my veggie dishes.

I totally agree with you about roasting veggies - it's the best way to consume them!

These Eat Well posts are fantastic.

Becky | 6:56 PM

Hmm.. these look delicious. I am actually putting a couple of Mollie's cookbooks in my Amazon cart now!

Helen | 8:47 AM

Great article, thanks Wendy! Butternut squash is a staple in my country and is roasts *really* well.

Wendy Woolf | 3:27 PM

Yes, Helen. Butternut squash is awesome! I often put it in with my root vegetables...it combines well with sweet potatoes and parsnips. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments! :)

Asha {Parent Hacks} | 4:42 PM

I've been a Mollie lover (so to speak) for years...volunteered as her prep cook at a Sur La Table cooking class and she was just as lovely in person. May I also recommend Lorna Sass's cookbooks...delish, simple veg food.

Julie | 5:55 PM

Wendy,

I am thoroughly enjoying the food posts by both you and Rebecca. Since my toddler was born, I have been phasing meat and dairy out of my life. My husband is vegan, which makes it easier. I am also lucky to live in a place that supports farmers who care about their contribution to this earth. (Coincidentally, it is also the current residence of both the Moosewood and T. Colin Campbell.)

I am an avid reader of reverent food-centric blogs (You and Heidi Johnson of 101 Cookbooks could be kindred blog spirits!) Your recipes really are some of the more yummy, fast, and family-friendly options out there. We adored Rebecca's quinoa salad (with blended tofu, lemon, and cashew cream instead of yogurt), and your garbanzo balls. Every time we go collect eggs, my daughter asks if we're making Persian eggs - Yum!!

I love your informative and joyous posts and look forward
to many more!

Anonymous | 6:05 PM

Rebecca's mom needs a blog of her own- she's fantastic. Very articulate, interesting, and her tone is very personal, friendly and approachable. LOVE HER.

Rachel | 1:21 PM

I just made the crispy kale. SO good! Thanks!

lacy | 1:50 PM

WWW you are amazing! Keep it coming. My family is soooo excited to see some color and life injected into our meals. You make it so easy!

Heathre | 6:54 PM

Although vegetarianism does have it's place, it's not meant to be long term. What's mainly important is to eat local/to your environment, what your body agrees with, the ethics of how it came about, and building top soil. It's not black and white. You know, factory farmed or veganism. The third option is eating any foods from an excellent source.

I recommend reading The Vegetarian Myth by L. Keith and Real Foods by Nina P.