by Annette Dashofy
Some people who begin a yoga practice eventually become vegetarians. I, being rather different, became a vegetarian prior to discovering yoga. My reasons had to do with the things industrial farmers put in the cattle and chicken feed; the hormones injected to make chickens produce bigger, juicier breast meat and the cattle produce more milk; and the toxins dumped into the oceans and waterways and ingested by the fish. But after becoming enmeshed in the yogic lifestyle, my already vegetarian diet fit nicely with the principle of ahimsa, the yogic practice of doing no harm. You know that commercial where the bespectacled monk rescues spiders and tiny turtles and then suffers pangs of guilt over using the kind of tissues that kill viruses? He’s practicing ahimsa.
One of the toughest aspects of vegetarianism is eating out. And I do so love to eat out. Some restaurants just don’t get the concept of food without meat products. And I’m relatively easy to please. I do eat eggs and dairy products. But some places insist on making their pasta and pizza tomato sauces with beef broth. Soups generally use chicken or beef stock as a base. And McDonald’s has historically gotten into deep trouble with vegetarian Hindus by using beef flavoring in their French fries.
But I can deal with restaurants. I know where I can and can’t get a meal by now. The hardest thing is dinner with the family. Including, but not limited to Thanksgiving.
The rest of the world enjoys a bountiful meal requiring either loosening the belt after dinner or the wearing of stretchy pants. I tend to get a sparse meal of salad, mashed potatoes with no gravy and a few veggies. If I’m lucky, someone in the family thinks of me and runs out to pick up a frozen vegetable lasagna or a box of Garden Burgers. But most of the dishes that get passed around the table bypass me.
So let me offer a few little known tips about vegetarianism in case you happen to have one coming to dinner tomorrow:
Skip the tiny marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. Or perhaps, cook a serving separately for your visitor. Marshmallows aren’t vegetarian. Neither is Jell-o. Both contain gelatin which contains…well, I don’t want to ruin the meal for the rest of you, so just trust me on this.
Rice or stuffing made with chicken or turkey broth does not qualify as vegetarian. Just because you can’t see chunks of meat doesn’t mean it isn’t in there.
If the pumpkin pie crust was made with lard, please warn your visiting vegetarian.
Often, we vegetarians aren’t simply being obnoxious or stubborn in our request to know the contents of a dish, secret recipe or not. I know for me, if I inadvertently eat meat products, I get sick. Nobody wants their guest to spend the afternoon in the bathroom with the door locked. So, don’t divulge the secret recipe, even if the secret ingredient is meat-based, but PLEASE warn you visiting vegetarian to steer clear of that particular dish. They will thank you.
And, as long as they don’t contain the aforementioned lard, pies and desserts are safe!
Now there’s something for vegetarians to be thankful for!