wounded planet

"Landscape with Chickens" by Auguste Durst
“Landscape with Chickens” by Auguste Durst

Earth is generous with her provisions, and her sustenance is very kind; she offers, for your table, food that requires no bloodshed and no slaughter.
~ Ovid

Honestly, I could live indefinitely on soy milk and cereal, and beans and rice. But husband Tim is a lover of great variety and hearty meals. I’m starting to realize that if I am going to have a vegetarian kitchen I am going to have to add a lot more to my repertoire to keep this guy reasonably satisfied.

Borders is or was going out of business and we found ourselves there browsing around for good deals on books. Looking over the cookbook selections I thought 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles sounded promising and started thumbing through it. It has won two awards, the Julia Child Cookbook Award and the James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence. Following my intuition about this one – sorry Dr. Ornish, but Tim was not at all thrilled with the recipes in your cookbook – I bought it and am so happy I did. So far, Tim has liked every recipe I’ve made from it! 🙂 Who knew there were so many ways to prepare eggplant? Or that eggplants and plums went well together in the same concoction?

A few days ago my friend Robin, over at Life in the Bogs, mentioned that she was becoming more of a vegetarian. I told her I was heading in the same direction and she recommended a book to me, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted & The Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss & Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell & Thomas M. Campbell. Well, thanks again to Kindle it didn’t take me long to finish this amazing book, which delves quite deeply into why animal protein is so unhealthy for us, even if it is humanely and organically raised. Our Western diets are primarily animal protein and this is probably the cause of many of what the authors call diseases of affluence – cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis – the list goes on and on as he cites the China Study and many other scientific studies.

As it turns out, the diet that is good for us is also good for our little blue planet.

We plow under the habitats of other animals to grow hybrid corn that fattens our genetically engineered animals for slaughter. We make free species extinct and domestic species into bio-machines. We build cruelty into our diet.
~ Peter Singer & Jim Mason
(The Way We Eat)

It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the over-population of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat.
~ Jeremy Rifkin
(Beyond Beef: The Rise & Fall of the Cattle Culture)

It’s going to take a lot of effort to become a vegan household, but I feel like I’ve got enough information now to help me keep this new commitment.

27 thoughts on “wounded planet”

  1. “It’s going to take a lot of effort to become a vegetarian household, but I feel like I’ve got enough information now to help me keep this new commitment.”

    Barbara – It sounds like you’ve done your due diligence, dotted your I’s, and Crossed your T’s. You’re on a roll now — and my hat’s off to you as you gain momentum 🙂

  2. In the world of literature I have a favorite ‘meal’. I call it the Heidi picnic… bread, cheese and milk… from the book ‘Heidi’, of course. ‘Two Friends’ reminds me of Heidi’s lunch as she went up the mountain to tend the herd. Jane

    1. My mother read me “Heidi” when I was in third or fourth grade – perhaps I made the same connection between the book and the painting as you did without realizing it… When we used to go hiking in the mountains in Greece we brought similar refreshments: bread, cheese and wine. We frequently crossed paths with shepherds leading their flocks…

  3. Hi,
    Love the photo’s you have selected. Sounds like you have found some very good books, and good on you for buying the Carol Gelles cookbook, and having a go at the recipes. You just never know how something is going to taste until you try it.

    1. Thanks, Mags. It’s so true – my parents used to give us “no thank you” servings to try if we didn’t think we’d like something new. Can’t say I ever got used to lima beans, though! 🙂

  4. Love the paintings you chose and the quotes from the books.

    Sounds as though you’re really committed to doing this so you deserve to succeed. I wish you many happy recipe testings.
    Eggplant and plums? Interesting…!

    1. Thank you, Rosie. I think the eggplant and plum recipe is my favorite so far, but I won’t make it again too soon or Mr. Variety will balk at having something too often. I’ll probably post the recipe for you on an upcoming post!

  5. It sounds like you are strongly committed, and that is always a good start. 🙂

    There are so many wonderful vegetarian cookbooks to be explored. My husband likes hearty meals and variety too. I’ve been making Indian curries lately which fills both requirements.

    A friend recently recommended Appetite For Reduction. It’s a wonderful vegan recipe book. You can check out some of the recipes here:

    http://www.theppk.com/

    We’ll be so healthy we won’t know what to do with ourselves. lol!

    1. Thanks for recommending the book and the link, Robin! After you mentioned mujaddara on one of your posts I found a recipe for it online because it sounded so good, but it turned out kind of blah. Will look for a different version to try – there seem to be a lot of variations… I hope we all get so healthy we don’t know what to do with ourselves! Not sure what we’ll do during Thanksgiving, though…

      1. Thanksgiving is easy. We have had several vegetarian Thanksgiving celebrations over the past decade because we’re “Thanksgiving orphans” (as a friend calls the group). Since we don’t go back east to visit family at that time, and our children are usually busy with their in-laws, we get together with friends who are in the same boat. Two of those friends are vegetarians so we decided to keep it easy and forget about the turkey.

        One year we made deep dish pizza, stuffed with veggies, and served with salad. Another year we made a Quorn tur’key roast with a mushroom gravy, some kind of fancy vegetarian stuffing that took me forever to make (I’m going to find something much simpler this year!), and a ton of other side dishes that included veggies, grains, and/or potatoes (sweet and white).

        I highly recommend Quorn products if you’re missing the texture of meat. They are made from mushrooms/fungi (which is good for me as I don’t want a lot of unfermented soy in my diet for health reasons). I’ve served stir-fries with Quorn products in them, and most people can’t tell the difference between the Quorn and chicken.

        1. Thanks so much for the Quorn tip, Robin! The company has a nice website and it seems to be sold in a grocery store across the river. We can try it and if Tim likes it we can request our food coop to carry it. Mushrooms are the best plant source of Vitamin D, so that is a big plus for me. It would be nice if it works out because we usually go visit family in Virginia for Thanksgiving…

          1. I’ve always wanted to try Quorn. They don’t sell it around here. Kiah told me about it because it’s available in NYC. Of course.

          2. We found some Quorn today. It’s not gluten-free so I can’t eat it, but I’m more than willing to cook it for Tim. Too bad you can’t find it near you, Kathy. 🙁 I was overwhelmed at the variety of vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free products now available!

  6. I too worry about our intake of protein even though it’s minimal by most standards. The China Study looks interesting. We eat a lot of pulses with few carbs trying to keep a healthy balance but it’s never easy and always a WIP. Enjoyed your post.

    1. Thank you, Keith. I had to look up pulses – thanks for helping to learn the meaning of a new word. I enthusiastically recommend “The China Study” – it was such an eye-opening read. You’re right – this will be a work in progress and it’s nice to know your family is making the effort, too.

  7. It’s been fascinating reading these last few posts of yours, Barbara, not only because of your insightful thoughts on being vegetarian but because of the deep sense of excitement about change that I read between the lines. Whenever we find something that fulfills us emotionally, intellectually and morally, whenever things begin to click into place in our lives, I believe it really is an extraordinary moment, edging us closer to who we truly are. Thank you for these words, the wonderful and apt quotes as usual, and the honesty of your thoughts which shines through. It’s a pleasure to journey alongside you.

    1. Thank you for so many kind words, Julian. It does feel like an extraordinary moment, as if all the things learned and experienced on the random little side trips in my life are now coming together into focus for the next leg of the journey to authenticity. It’s a pleasure having your company on the adventure!

  8. Glad to hear you and Tim are headed in a more vegetarian direction. Barry and I went thatta way in our early marriage, then backslid for many years, then started again six years ago (with my gall bladder diagnosis.) We still ate fish, though. We were really mostly vegan, eschewing dairy products and eggs, too. Later I discovered that most vegetarian food in restaurants is dripping in fats and oils and cheeses, making them actually MORE unhealthy than a simple chicken or turkey sandwhich. So I went back to eating fowl when out & about. Good luck with your new diet! I remember, after several months on the new diet, thinking a carrot was the sweetest most delicious thing I had ever tasted–much better than cheesecake!

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I’m hoping we can steer clear of dairy and eggs, too, but we haven’t figured out a satisfactory breakfast for Tim so far. He’s willing to do the whole grain cereal but is balking at soy, almond and coconut milk. Wasn’t expecting breakfast to be the biggest hurdle! I suspect we’ll be eating fish and fowl when out and about, as you say, for the same reasons. Do you grow your own carrots? I bet they’re out of this world!

  9. We do grow our own carrots and they are so sweet and succulent. The store-bought ones don’t hold a candle to the ones that come out of our gardens.

    1. My mouth is watering now… We notice a big difference in the flavor of “regular” veggies and the organic veggies we get at the food coop…

  10. Barbara,

    I’m thrilled you are happy with my recipes. Try cuisines you’ve never had before and enjoy the journey.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment, Carol. Your recipes are SCRUMPTIOUS! I just bought another copy of your cookbook to give to my son and his family, hoping to entice them to go vegetarian as well. 🙂

  11. I wish you and your family much success on your decision to become vegetarian. By the way, I love the heartwarming pictures! Also, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn speak here in Florida a couple of weeks ago. As you probably already know, Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell costar together in the movie Forks Over Knives. I just did a post about the event, which may be of interest to you. Anyway, I hope that you will continue to keep us updated on your new journey! I love reading about it.

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! I’m finally getting around to catching up with everyone’s blogs and comments… I haven’t seen “Forks Over Knives” yet, but I did enjoy your post immensely. Will try to keep updating our progress – will be interesting to see what our family will be serving for Thanksgiving!

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