Guide to Vegetarian Recipes
Records of vegetarian diets can be traced as far back as the sixth century B.C.E. and could very well have existed earlier. Pythagoras, the mathematician and philosopher famous for his theorem, was a practicing vegetarian. In the modern Western world, vegetarianism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many choose to follow vegetarian diets in response to the environmental and ethical concerns surrounding the food industry and sustainability. The Guide to Vegetarian Recipes explains vegetarianism, its history, and recipes for those wishing to accommodate vegetarians. Intended for culinary students, cooks, or even individuals who want to diversify their cooking, this guide is among the many resources available in our culinary library.
Introduction to Vegetarianism
The practice of Vegetarianism includes following plant-based diets and abstaining from the ingestion of meat. While there is a fair amount of variation on the inclusion of dairy products or by-products of animal slaughter, these are generally not necessary to the practice of Vegetarianism as a whole. Further, the inclusion of fish or poultry in a primarily plant-based diet makes it pescetarian, not vegetarian. Veganism is among the most popular types of vegetarianism. Unlike many other varieties, in addition to not eating meat, veganism excludes all animal by-products including honey, eggs, and dairy.
Historically, many civilizations and populations, most notably in India and Greece, have followed vegetarian diets. Such populations were often influenced by religious or cultural values that promote nonviolence towards animals. Differences in motivations or purposes for following a vegetarian diet are responsible for the many different varieties of vegetarianism. Buddhist vegetarianism, for instance, excludes all animal products as well as the allium family (which includes onions and garlic), unless the meat is from a source that is not directly intended to be eaten. Even within this branch of vegetarianism, however, there remain significant differences between followers of different schools of Buddhism. A wide variety of articles detailing the Buddhist stance on vegetarian practices as understood by Buddhist Lamas, Chan, Son and Zen Masters, as well as contemporary authors can be found at Shabkar.org. Differing interpretations of religious scriptures result in appropriately different diets.
Vegetarianism has many critics who claim that it is not a viable means of sustenance. A well planned vegetarian diet has been found to be nutritionally adequate and includes many health benefits. Essential nutrients and proteins for the successful, healthy functioning of the body can be found in non-animal sources. Due to the nutritional differences between a vegetarian diet and one that includes meat, it may be helpful to review some good sources of important nutrients. Though a well-balanced diet provides health benefits, it is important to ensure that daily needs are met. Other critics argue against the practice of moral vegetarianism, claiming that such practice is ambiguous or has dubious consequences for the well-being of animals. Moral vegetarianism often revolves around animal welfare or animal rights.
Popular Vegetarian Recipes
The possibilities for vegetarian recipes are nearly endless. A wide variety of cuisines are conducive to vegetarian dishes, but cultures that have highly vegetarian populations are especially common. For practical geographic reasons, or due to religious or cultural perspectives, Indian and Asian cuisines are among the most common in vegetarian cooking. Maintaining a healthful diet relies on implementing substitutes for meat which fulfill nutritional needs; many of the following recipes include significant portions of amino acids and protein, despite the exclusion of meat. The recipes provided in this section are popular choices among vegetarians, but can be enjoyed by anyone.
- Vadouvan-Spiced Red Lentil Soup – The French-Indian spice Vadouvan distinguishes this soup from other lentil soup varieties. In addition to the inclusion of this spice, garlic, thyme and bay leaf contribute to the overall flavor.
- A Collection of Vegetarian Friendly Holiday Recipes – Presented in simple text, this assortment offers holiday recipes that are lower in fat than many traditional dishes. With inclusions such as sage breadsticks, chipotle polenta, and hot spiced pineapple tea, these dishes bring something new to the table.
- Vegetarian Society offers this collection of vegetarian recipes which includes subsections dedicated to vegan and gluten intolerant individuals. Icons for recipes inform users of the presence or absence of eggs, dairy, and gluten.
- The International Vegetarian Union Recipe Database allows for browsing through a number of vegetarian recipes which are divided by world region. Provided recipes are further sub-divided by type of food and include simple instructions.
- Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry – A simply stir-fry recipe which incorporates onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Sweet and tangy flavor is provided by a sauce that is made up of pineapple, soy sauce, and vinegar.
- Zucchini-Goat Cheese Pizza is an alternative to pizzas which often include some form of meat. A favorite among vegetarians, this goat cheese variety of pizza relies on zucchini and pepper to provide substance.
Additional Resources for Cooking
Living as a vegetarian can sometimes be challenging. Highly processed foods and food products often rely on complex techniques that incorporate meat or animal by-products, making it important to scrutinize ingredients and better understand the food industry. A vegetarian Glossary may be helpful in explaining some foods which are common in vegetarian dishes, but less common otherwise. Social obstacles further complicate the lives of vegetarians to some extent. Even though vegetarianism is becoming more widely accepted, it still mystifies some. Many non-vegetarians are uneducated as to the reasons for choosing to follow a vegetarian diet.
Climate change, eating meat, and ending poverty – Peter Singer is a prominent member of the animal rights and welfare movement. The Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, Singer explains how vegetarianism fits into a greater ethical context in contemporary society. In addition to this lecture taken from the University of Melbourne, he has written extensively on the topic. His writing includes problems of the global food industry and meat consumption.
Image courtesy of stock.xchng by SidWebb ( http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1192003)