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I recently read an NPR article that explored the American relationship with meat consumption.  According to the article, many say that they want to eat less meat–largely due to health concerns–but actual habits are slow to change. 

Jeremiah and I are vegetarian; we have been for a while.  (Actually, I’m a pescetarian; he’s a vegetarian.  I still occasionally eat fish.)  For us, it was mostly an ethical decision (driven by the fact that we have made friends with all the freaking farm animals).  For others, its a decision driven by environmental factors or health concerns. 

I thought the article was interesting; for me, it proved a point I have long suspected.  That is, sounding the alarms against meat consumption doesn’t do that much good on it’s own.  Rather than spur actual change, they just make people consider the fact that they should maybe think about changing…and then they don’t.

Honestly, I’m not the sort to just go around sounding those alarms.  If you are interested in why I eat this way, I’ll happily discuss it.  I may even write about it, but I’m not a “belligerent vegetarian.”  I’m not going to argue with you about it.  I’m not going to shame or guilt trip you.  (In fact, in my experience, it generally works the other way around; there are meat eaters who get genuinely ANGRY with me when they find out I don’t eat meat.  I still don’t understand that.)

Personally, I think that we’re going about this all wrong anyway.  Vegetarianism (even on a “one meal a week” basis) is still being framed as a sacrifice, and, for the majority, that’s never going to fly.  If it’s going to be embraced, people have to see how positive it can be for them: the positive outcome on their pocketbook, waistline, and health are good places to start.

AND

Guys, it’s delicious.

I’ve found that you seldom have to convince people to eat delicious food.  Cupcakes, for example.  You don’t have to lay on heavy handed emotional arguments to make someone want to eat a cupcake.   All I have to do is put them out, and they get eaten.  Forget arguing over meat-free meals.  Just offer delicious meat free options and walk away.

They will get eaten…because that’s what happens to delicious food.

This one is one of my favorites.

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I’ve been told that collard greens are a staple in the southern states, but up here, they’re one of those weird ingredients that most people don’t know what to do with.  They are best suited for cooking, with a thicker texture and heft that doesn’t lend itself to salad.  My first experience with them was pre-vegetarian, stuffed like cabbage rolls.  However, shortly after we transitioned to a vegetarian diet, I found myself staring at a beautiful, fresh bunch of collard greens at the grocery store.  I needed a vegetarian collard green recipe in my life, so I came up with this.

***As an aside, this will make your kitchen smell amazing, like a fancy Italian restaurant.  I recommend making this meal to “Mambo Italiano” radio on Pandora, dancing to Rosemary Clooney singing “Lola” while chopping veggies and drinking red wine.  (It worked for me…)

Unstuffed Collard Greens – Ingredients

  •  8-12 collard green leaves
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 pkg of mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 2-3 tbls olive oil
  • splash of red wine (optional)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups cooked rice

First, a word on rice.  I went with a black pearl medley, setting it to cook while I made everything else.  This times well with non-instant rice, which you can set up to cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.  The texture will be better if you steer clear of instant rice on this one.

  1. Combine garlic, onion, and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the onion and garlic soften (about 5 minutes), de-rib your collard greens by cutting the coarse center stem away, and cut the remaining leaves into “ribbons” by rolling them and slicing the roll.
  3.   Add the collard greens and mushrooms to the garlic/onion, adding additional olive oil if necessary.  Cook an additional 4-5 minutes until both the greens and the mushrooms are cooked through.
  4. Pour in the jar of pasta sauce. Cook through and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.  (This is where I added a splash of red wine…because wine is good.)
  • Serves the greens and sauce over rice.  Top with mozzarella cheese to taste.

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Enjoy!