What is a Vegetarian?

May 31

With so many different diets and food patterns emerging in society today, definitions can become easily blurred. What distinguishes a vegetarian from a vegan? What is a flexitarian?? Many individuals fall under the category of “vegetarian” that may in fact eat meat on occasion, particularly if it is in the form of fish or chicken. Yet some vegetarians will only eat dairy and eggs, but no meat at all. Let’s shed some light on the true definitions of what a vegetarian truly is.

Vegetarians by definition do not consume the flesh of any animal or anything that is a derivative of an animal, including fish. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will consume dairy products and eggs. Lacto vegetarians will consume dairy products but no eggs. Ovo vegetarians will consume eggs, but no dairy. Vegans by definition do not consume either dairy or eggs. Pescetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism where only fish and seafood are consumed. Pollotarianism is the practice of vegetarianism where only poultry or fowl are consumed.

The most recent form of vegetarianism to become prominent is called Flexitarianism. Flexitarians actually will consume meat, dairy and eggs on occasion in limited quantities. Flexitarianism has evolved as a compromise for those who for whatever reasons wish to maintain a largely vegetarian diet, but need to supplement their diets with the occasional consumption of animal proteins.

Vegetarians practice these food habits for many reasons ranging from religious obligations to cultural ones. Others simply believe it is a healthier way of eating. Whatever the reason an individual decides to practice vegetarianism, the issue always remains that a healthy balance of proteins must be obtained through non-animal sources. Often this comes in the form of beans, which are not only high in proteins, but fiber as well. The following is a recipe for a traditional Moroccan Couscous with Seven Vegetables. It is a fantastic recipe for vegetarians as it is rich in protein, high in nutrients and of course high in flavor.

Couscous with Seven Vegetables

Yields approximately 8 Servings

1 box of instant couscous
Olive oil
Boiling Water
3 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Carrots, cut into 1” pieces
2 Parsnips, cut into 1” pieces
4 Red Potatoes, Skins left on and cut into 1” pieces
1 can chickpeas
1 Bunch Asparagus, Trimmed and cut into 1” Pieces (You can substitute green beans when in season)
½ cup Raisins, black or golden
Pinch Salt and Pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsps ground cinnamon
Pinch of Saffron (If you don’t have saffron, you can use a pinch of turmeric, which is much cheaper)
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Tbl Harissa (North African Chili Paste) or a couple dashes of hot sauce

For the couscous, empty box of couscous onto a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a little boiling water. Carefully rub the oil and water all over the granules with your hands, spreading it out in one flat layer onto the baking sheet. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Repeat this process 3 times, each time making sure to rub the couscous between your hands so that the granules are separated and remain light and fluffy.

For the stew, heat the 3 Tbl olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 8 mins. Add garlic and cook for one minute or until fragrant. Add carrots, parsnips and potatoes. Season liberally with the salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon and saffron. Saute a couple of minutes to render the fragrance of the spices. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the vegetables are tender. Add asparagus or green beans, can of chickpeas and raisins and continue cooking, uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Add the chili paste and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened. Serve hot spooned over the couscous. This dish is almost better the next day reheated as it allows the flavors of the dish to marinate overnight.

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