Go Veggie for the Holidays

>> Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ever since reading Garbage Land, I've been mulling over one particular quote that really stuck out for me:

“According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which made exhaustive studies of consumers' environmental impacts, the things that make the biggest difference to planetary health are transportation, housing, and meat-eating.”

Who would have thunk: meat-eating?

I saw a statistic the other day that the average American eats ½ a pound of meat a day. That's phenomenal!

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that number gets even higher during the holiday season, starting with the gluttonous turkey feast known as Thanksgiving and ending with the New Years Day brunch. So I'm proposing a radical idea: Pick a holiday, any holiday, and eat less meat. Or go whole hog, pardon the metaphor, and skip the meat completely.

When I shared this idea with my meat-eating husband, his response was a downhearted, “So I don't get turkey on Thanksgiving?” If you had the same reaction, how about this instead: Pick a few nights in the coming months and commit to preparing some vegetarian meals to offset the turkey and ham you'll be consuming over the holidays. And of course, make sure the animals you choose for your feasts are raised humanely.

So to help you out, I'm going to do a series of blog posts over the next few weeks with some of my super delicious vegetarian recipes that are sure to please even the most meat-loving crowds.

Today's subject: the Thanksgiving “turkey”

A few years ago, somebody asked me if I eat “tofurkey” on Thanksgiving. I generally stick to side dishes, but their question got me curious, so I spent the day before Thanksgiving hopping from Whole Foods to Trader Joes to the local food co-op in search of a tofurkey. I finally found one, ate it that Thanksgiving, and decided to go back to eating side dishes.

If you really feel like you need a “meaty” main dish, you could try making your own tofurkey (I still say steer clear of the store bought varieties), or you could try this:

Golden Chickpea Patties with Gravy

This recipe makes enough for my family for a regular night's dinner. If you're making this for thanksgiving, I suggest doubling or tripling it, depending on your crowd.

Golden Chickpea Patties

COST: $0.45 per serving*

2 c. cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
3/4 cup quick oats
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp. oil for frying
  • In a food processor, process the chickpeas with 1/2 cup of water to make a smooth, thick paste.
  • Place the chickpea puree in a mixing bowl andd add the garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix well, adding additional water or oats as necessary to make a mixture that keeps its shape.
  • Shape into patties. I usually get about six patties.
  • In a frying pan, heat a small amount of oil.
  • Fry the patties until golden brown, about 10 minutes on each side, adding more oil as necessary.

Vegetarian White Gravy

COST: $0.20 per serving*

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan.
  • Slowly whisk the flour into the butter, adding a little bit of flour at a time and stirring constantly to keep it from getting lumpy.
  • Let the flour and butter mixture bubble for a minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add milk a little bit at a time, whisking well after each addition to keep it from getting lumpy.
  • Continue stirring until the gravy starts to thicken. This is a runny gravy so it will not be too thick.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, or alternately, you can add a vegetable bouillon cube.
Serve chickpea patties with mashed potatoes and gravy and rolls:

*Note that costs are estimates based on prices in my area. Your costs may vary.


Maren Hansen November 14, 2008 at 1:58 PM  

Yay, yay, yay, now that I'm getting my iron infusions, I'm going to go veggie again! I look forward to your recipes--keep them coming! I was struck by that part in Garbageland too...

Erin aka Conscious Shopper November 14, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

When I first started reading Garbageland, I had forgotten that you had read it, and it was only half way through that the thought occurred to me, "Hey this is that book that Maren recommended that one time!" Wish you had gotten me to read it sooner - it was an amazing book!

Stephanie February 18, 2009 at 1:39 AM  

Ooh, I will be trying these soon! I have a recipe around here that looks similiar (actually, I think it's sitting on the loveseat right now. I need to straighten up again!). I was a vegetarian for...7 years, and I still prefer to go meatless whenever possible- most meals at home are meatless. It's just less of a hassle that way, and cooking meat scares me.

These look delicious though, and they're making me hungry!

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