As promised, here’s the plan for our Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday. It’s subject to change, of course, once my sister Sandy gets involved, not to mention that I’m notoriously fickle about following recipes. But it’s kind of a big deal as its the first time in the history of my family that we’ve had a vegetarian Thanksgiving.
Yes, me, the woman who spent a year at Le Cordon Bleu stuffing meat into other meat and who has deboned and dismembered entire turkey for the past five years will be making a completely vegetarian menu. A couple of months ago, Mike and I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. The gist: medical research increasingly shows that people with diets high in meat and dairy tend to be the most likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the film focuses on an extensive labor of research known as The China Study. Mike and I had already started cutting our meat consumption already, but after watching the film, we made a pact to keep it to less than 10 percent.
Coincidentally, my mother and stepdad watched the film around the same time and came to the same conclusion. My mother went on a mission to get everyone in our extended family to watch it, and thus it’s been a domino effect resulting in all the people who will be seated at our Thanksgiving table this year didn’t want a turkey.
Most of my meat eating these days comes when eating out, as often the vegetarian options on menu seem lacking (or non-existant) and sometimes it’s just socially awkward. Plus, as a food writer, it’s sometimes part of my job to eat or try certain things.
But this new habit has altered my perspective. For example, I never noticed that most restaurants include meat on every single menu item, including salads. I got into a protracted discussion with a hotel restaurant manager in Los Angeles while on book tour after I asked about vegetarian options and the server brought me a kids menu since it offered spaghetti with marinara sauce (from a can) and mac and cheese, their only non-meat options.
It’s discouraging to see the wide swath of real estate devoted to meat in my supermarket here in Florida, only to see the organic vegetable and tofu ghetto stuffed into a dark corner of the produce section. (The stocker I talked to said he’s “always restocking the tofu” since they sell a lot of it.)
This doesn’t mean that I’ll never write another recipe with meat, or that I’ll never roast another chicken or anything like that. But I think everyone could use shaking up the foundations of their diet and routines every now and then, don’t you?
With that, here’s the basic plan with another vegetable side (or two) to come from my sister. I’ll be sharing what I’m making as we go on Twitter, if you’d like to follow along.
- Vegetable pot pie with cheddary biscuit crust courtesy The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel
- Mashed potatoes and parsnips (inspired by What Would Cathy Eat?)
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Caramelized onion gravy (similar to this one from Sweet Bean and Green)
- Porcini, apple and sage stuffing (inspired by Two Peas and their Pod)
- Mom’s cranberry and orange relish (similar to Elise’s at Simply Recipes)
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with shallot butter (from my friends at Fine Cooking)
- Green bean casserole with fresh green beans and my version of mushroom soup (recipe to come)
- Five-spice pumpkin tofu cheesecake (an adaptation from Relish mag)
- Roasted apple and pear tart on a whole wheat crust
We also have a meyer lemon tree in our yard, so I’m looking for a healthy-ish lemon cream pie recipe. Anyone got one?