When I created my eighteen before eighteen list a year ago, I presumptuously wrote “going vegan for a whole week” as one of the tasks. Then I looked up the definition of veganism, learned that it meant I wouldn’t even be able to eat honey, and then immediately changed “vegan” to “vegetarian”. I figured that going vegetarian for a week was doable—probably—since I could still consume butter and eggs and cream and cheese.
Even before I start my Vegetarian Week, I can say with utmost certainty that I will never become a vegetarian. Ever. I’m partial to both vegetables and meat, but there is no question that I love T-bone steaks and rack of lamb chops and cedar-smoked salmon just a little more than broccoli.
My Vegetarian Week started off on a lazy Sunday morning. I ate a bowl of plain yogurt sweetened with raspberry jam, topped with a couple spoonfuls of Homemade Granola. As I sat down to enjoy my vegetarian breakfast, my younger brother Kyle burst into the kitchen and decided that he wanted to fry some bacon. My mouth involuntarily watered.
For lunch, I made Spinach-Tofu Burgers. These patties are actually surprisingly filling and flavourful. I really liked how the spinach-tofu mixture held together really well and browned nicely. The soya sauce, black sesame seeds, and sesame oil paired really well with the blandness of the tofu. Sadly, as much as I like spinach and tofu, they don’t taste as good as beef meatballs. What can I say—I’m an omnivore at heart.
* * *
I successfully went a week without consuming meat. Looking back, the only thing that comes to mind is that it was not a fun week. Towards the end of the seven days, I was feeling hungry and restless and fatigued, even after I ate. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I went vegetarian the way I was supposed to (i.e. I made these Spinach-Tofu Burgers and a large pan of spinach, tofu, sesame, butternut squash, chickpea stir-fry, and literally at that for the whole week. I also ate a lot of peanut butter. Surely, a true vegetarian week should encompass more variety than that, but since I was the only one in my family eating vegetarian, it took awhile to finish the Spinach-Tofu Burgers and the stir-fry.
I talked to Heather of Tea With Me, who has attempted vegetarianism and is currently on the paleo diet, about the merits and downfalls of each diet. She mentioned how she never felt completely satisfied with vegetarianism, despite how much she ate. She explained how the paleo diet works (basically, on the diet, you can’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar) and how she feels more energized and has had less cravings. I don’t diet for weight loss purposes, but I would consider trying the paleo diet as a lifestyle change for better health.
Click below for the recipe.
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook via http://www.marcussamuelsson.com/recipe/spinach-tofu-burgers-recipe via http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/2011/07/spinach-tofu-burgers.html
- 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 block firm tofu, patted dry
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Squeeze out as much water out of the spinach as you can. Transfer to a large bowl.
Pulse the garlic in a food processor a few times until minced. Transfer to the bowl. Put the tofu in the food processor and pulse a few times until crumbled. Transfer half of the tofu to the bowl and process the remaining tofu until it is smooth. Add it to the bowl along with the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, a sprinkling of salt and lots of pepper.
Stir the mixture until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Form into patties. (I also made meatballs.) Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, slide the patties into the skillet with a spatula. Cook, without moving until they are nicely browned and easy to move, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the patties and cook on the second side for 3-4 minutes more. Serve on buns, in pitas, or over rice.