The Silence of the Lambs: On Becoming Vegetarian

Two weeks ago, I made steak for supper upon returning from the gym. This isn’t particularly noteworthy in and of itself, being a meatatarian, especially after an intense boxing workout. But on this night, we lucked out and found a couple of great cuts on sale. Seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked to medium-rare, the steaks paired wonderfully with a salad made of mixed field greens, caramelized onion, red pepper and feta, drizzled with a flavoured oil.

As we ate on this night, one of the kids sat and chatted with us.  How it came about, I don’t know. But she asked to actually try a piece.

This was something. She wasn’t a big fan of meat, but still entertained it occasionally. Chicken. Roast beef dinners. But this was just plain steak – no mashed potatoes, no gravy, no Yorkshire puddings – and she was gobbling it up, remarking how delicious it was. How it melted in her mouth.

I felt like I had won.

You smarter, more experienced parents know that I most certainly did not.

The Powerpoint presentation.

After a class on the environment and sustainability and just where our food comes from – and likely spiced up with further hallway conversation – a case was made to never eat a piece of meat again in slide format, accompanied with fuzzy animals and peppered with the traditional rhetoric of slaughter of the innocents and some Catholic guilt thrown in for good measure.

I will openly admit that I don’t understand the choice to switch to a plant-only existence, from a nutrition perspective. As in the scenario above, I just thought it was because one didn’t have well prepared meat or fish – there were certainly a few times that I toyed with swearing off animals after some tough, dried pieces of meat. But it’s bigger than that, in this case – the search for identity, I suppose. So, at the very least we can try to entertain and encourage a responsible exploration.

Enter my dad (the king of the BBQ) and his techniques for vegetarian lasagna, which he’s made a few times for veggie family members and even I have given it a seal of approval. untitled-271

  • Slice up zucchini and eggplant. The zucchini are placed in a frying pan and sprinkled with parmesan on both sides. The eggplant is broiled – again, both sides – on low heat in the oven until dried out. The key with both vegetables is to get a lot of the moisture out, or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
    untitled-278 untitled-279
  • Boil a box of noodles, grate mozzarella, and make a white sauce (this recipe is what I used – plus a pinch or two of garlic salt).
  • Assemble: spray a 9 x 13 pan, then lay down noodles. Then a vegetable, the mozza (which will keep it again from getting soggy), and half the sauce. Cover with noodles and repeat. Top with more cheese.

Is it healthy? Well, it’s not processed, and there’s two vegetables in there – but it’s symbolic, an Alfredo-sauce-soaked olive branch of sorts to a frustrated kid who realized, after a few days of trying it out, that it ain’t easy being green in a world of chicken nuggets and cardboard school cafeteria pizza.

I made it Sunday, ready to heat up for a hectic Monday school night supper. Not an ounce mushy either!

“So, what did you think?”

“Not bad. Except for the vegetables. Next time, can we have chicken pot pie instead? Minus the chicken.”


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