I grew up an omnivore. I enjoy the taste of meat. And over the years I’ve even gotten into more daring tastes like lamb, duck, bison, buffalo, ostrich… when made right, delicious. I love to grill. I’m really good at cooking up burgers and steaks. My tastebuds enjoy it and I never have any digestive issues.
But I’ve long been bugged a lot by what has been uncovered in the nefarious meat industry–the inhumanity and cruelty to animals. My reaction was to try eating meat less and try to source from ethical, responsible, and sustainable providers. Unfortunately, that meats quite a bump up in cost (double, triple, even quadruple). But more recently I’ve been made aware of the food chain problem… what goes into the mouths of animals. You’d be shocked by what kind of junk they get, including GMO corn, and even animal byproducts.
I’ve concluded that my low-effort take on meat is not enough. I need to cut down on it a lot. I’ll never be a full vegetarian, as dairy is something I could never willingly give up. I love milk, cheese, and eggs. But I think I can do without meat, except for rare treats once in a while.
For those of you who are vegetarians, do you have a series of easy-to-make recipes on hand for lunch and dinner? What are some of your favorites?
More than half of my relatives including my mother are strictly vegetarian. My father and grandfather allowed chicken and seafood consumption on a few occassions. Later twice in a month became the usual. But not daily until I left home in 2016. I was fully vegetarian for about a year in 2019. Right after coming to Japan I made a switch. It’s practically impossible to find good vegetarian food at affordable costs here unless one cooks their own. Plus the vegetable and fruit variety is not rich like India. I think vegetarian or vegan life is better in bigger cities in Japan plus if you are living with family or significant other I think cooking makes a lot more sense. But any chance I get to make the switch back I will be more that happy to do it. My friends back home have recently all turned.
And the topic of animal cruelty is very significant but it’s a tricky one because a lot of people start to make distinction as to what is a higher form of life and not okay to kill eat it treat badly vs what is. And when it comes to Japan I think it seems there are no limits to what can’t be killed and eaten dead or alive.
I don’t know anybody that’s a vegetarian.
Im not a vegetarian but I do skip eating meat 1-2 days a week, mainly for health reasons. (cardiac health and weight loss/control).
We try to only eat red meat 1-2 days a week, so the rest of the time it’s chicken or fish mostly.
On my “meatless” days I eat a lot of salads, hummus and carrots for snacks, and I really enjoy a good homemade veggie pizza with a cauliflower crust.
Another meal option is grilled cheese sandwiches (I like to get crazy with cheese combinations) and meatless spaghetti (I usually load up the sauce with extra diced tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, etc).
Meatless chili is a sin and needs to be avoided at all costs.
I’d been told in the past that India has a significant vegetarian population (although meat eating is still dominant). That’s great there’s an abundance of diverse vegetables and fruits available. I’d also heard that in Japan, good quality fresh produce is expensive. And like you said, not a very large variety. At least there’s an abundance of fish! I love sashimi and sushi, so it was a great pleasure eating there. One key thing about fish is that by individual, the biological “footprint” is relatively small. A land mammal is much larger and the waste left behind is much more substantial.
That’s basically the approach I’d started taking over the last 10 years. While I would have sliced ham on sandwiches a few times a week, the small amount is something I considered insignificant. A nice steak? I’d have one once a week, but more recently once every two weeks.
Chicken is a large staple. It’s a great form of protein. A roast chicken is so easy to buy in the store and a great addition to a salad. I also eat a lot of salads, with lots of different things mixed in.
Grilled cheese can be great and I agree – combining various cheeses can be extremely tasty. I sometimes do open-face ones, and put on different toppings like avocado and roasted red peppers.
Sometimes I’ll add finely diced cubes of tofu to a tomato sauce layered over spaghetti, which is an easy way to boost protein without altering the taste much. Sometimes I’ll cook the tofu ahead of time with onions and shallots as well as spices, which gives a nice flavor boost to the sauce.
I’ve been trying to get to know some easy and tasty legumes for convenient vegetarian meals. Lentils are really great in that regard. I didn’t realize there were so many types. I recently discovered black beluga lentils. They’re hearty and nice to have with some spicy sauce mixed in, or stirred into a soup to give it more body. I’ve also learned that beans and rice are a terrific combination, which result in better protein assimilation than if eaten separately.
I eat less meat now than I did when I was younger. As part of a masters thesis, I did a fair amount of research on the environmental impact of food production (everything from soy to corn to beef to bananas), which was pretty-eye opening. I can’t imagine giving up meat completely to be honest, but I try to eat it less frequently.