Vegetarianism is the new Amish

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life58 Comments


Meatless March is in full swing, and aside from a swift and decided detour into a meat-free but highly sugared crap food fest last week in honor of my 45th birthday (Blue Raspberry Icee's are of the Devil), I've been enjoying finding new meals to feed my family that don't feature an animal protein at the center of the plate.

(And by feed my family, it should really read: feed me, Dan, and possibly Aidan if the meal isn't too freaky, while Cole looks on in disgust, happily eating his millionth PB&J for dinner.)


I've had some emails and comments about Meatless March. You know, what does it all mean? You're not getting enough protein! Why do you despise meat eaters? For the love of pepperoni, why are you doing this?

My answer is two-fold. First, I wanted to find ways to eat more plant-based whole grains and foods for the potential overall health benefit. Second, I want to see how my body responds to this way of eating.

And for now, that's pretty much it. Don't get me wrong, I have very fond memories of the Outback, mates. But there's no rule that says you can't revisit your food eating philosophies from time to time. Which is exactly what I'm doing.

And so far, so yummy.

I love to cook and I love new cookbooks, and during the past few weeks I've picked up a few, including this one:


(The Spicy Quinoa and Potato Croquettes were tasty and filling, served with a simple side salad.)

And I picked up this one:


(I have yet to crack the cover on this bad boy.)

And for my birthday, Dan gave me this one:


(I hope to make something from it this week.)

This reminds me a little story about how I roll, according to my better half. It goes something like this:

"Let's say I see the movie "Witness" and I decide I'd like to learn more about the Amish. I might go to the library, check out a few books, bring them home and maybe, just maybe crack the cover and read a few chapters. But very likely, not. You? You become Amish."

So right now vegetarianism is my new Amish.

I actually dropped the meat from our menus in mid February. I think I just wanted to make sure I could get back into this non-meat groove.

So far, the challenge has been interesting and tasty.

The only drawback to some of the meals I've been making? They require too many different pans, and the house smells of garlic and cumin for hours on end.

But when Dan gives me his very Midwestern response of, "Wow. This is great! This would go great with a burger," then I know I'm on the right track. More or less.

Cathy ZielskeVegetarianism is the new Amish

58 Comments on “Vegetarianism is the new Amish”

  1. #1
    Kendra B

    I’ve been eating vegetarian for almost a year after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. My decision was based on health reasons (which I saw a difference the first week), environmental, and the chapter on what happens to the animals before they become dinner (heartbreaking!!!) The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas has a lot of great recipes in it. And if you’re really wanting to eat something that seems like you’re eat meat try Quorn brand “meats” . . . very good taste and texture (I have a texture issue with a lot of the meat substitutes). I think its great that you’re trying this way of eating!! And even when you go back to eating meat hopefully you’ve found some really good meatless meals that you’ll go back to. I admit that twice a year I will be eating meat myself . . . I’m not ready to give up Christmas’s prime rib and St. Patty’s corn beef . . . both times I eat a slab of meat about the size of my head LOL (and then pay for it digestion wise for about 3-4 days LOL)

  2. #3

    Ah, the questions. I came under a bit of attack last week for my decision to become pescetarian. Blogged about it, of course. Good luck with the journey! πŸ™‚

  3. #4

    “Wow, this would go great with a burger!” (I LOVE THIS QUOTE!!!!!!)

    I, myself, don’t think I could EVER become vegan so, I admire you for trying… I’m sure your daughter appreciates having someone else in the house TRYING it. There is nothing that says that YOU have to remain meatless after March is up; you could return some “OUTBACK” into your diet, but balance it with the wholesomeness of grains, fruits, veggies and spices. AND YES… I’d imagine that your house DOES smell AMAZING!

  4. #5

    Appreciating the vegetarian series. I gave up meat for Lent. I’m Lutheran and didn’t have to do anything, but I wanted to do something that was a sacrifice and would make me slow down and think more than just renewing a lapsed New Year’s Resolution. (And I do love my meat!)

    Another (beautifully-designed) cookbook I am starting to dig into is Robin Asbell’s The New Whole Grains Cookbook. She has a vegetarian one, too. Some of the recipes are more time-consuming or require unusual ingredients, but so far they’ve been really tasty. (

    Good luck, and keep the recipes coming!

  5. #6
    Dorothy F

    I went meatless, just eat a little fish now and then, almost 30 years ago for health reasons. I have never felt better or been healthier. Keep up the good work. And for those who doubt, there are many, many ways to get your protein without animals.

  6. #7
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    I feel like I’ve missed something. Had you blogged earlier about Meatless March? Also, I’ve been meaning to ask about the Bircher Muesli you mentioned some time back. I keep looking for healthy cereals that aren’t loaded with sugar and calories. Right now I’m back to good ol’ Grape-Nuts, but it takes pretty bland after Post Raisins, Dates & Pecans. Your photo of the Muesli looked so good! Does it come with the nuts? I assume you added the fruit?

  7. #8
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    OK, I went back and found your reference. I had read it but evidently it didn’t register since my mind was on a different kind of eating at that time with the diet plan I was on. Meat was an important part. Charlie and I love vegetables, but you are rightβ€”it’s time consuming to cook that way (even though I love to) and we live so far from a grocery store that’s it’s hard to keep enough fresh veggies. I have some great vegetarian cookbooks, though, that I haven’t “cracked” in a while. I should revisit them!

  8. #9

    It interesting to challenge your body and cooking skills in addition to the self discipline. I went carb free (not Atkins) in October and as a result lost 34lbs and have glowing skin. I feel so vibrant and no longer feel sludgy and fatigued. I know it’s not a meatless diet but my point is that everyone is capable of making great choice alterations to their diets and still live to tell the tale with wonderful health benefits.

  9. #10

    Ive been thinking of reading that book, too.

    Im not ready to go vegan at this point, although some days its not hard to do just that.

  10. #15

    I have to laugh at the part about Cole and the PB&J. My oldest son would have starved if it hadn’t been for peanut butter. For some unknown reason he refused to eat meat starting at age 2. Of my 3 children, he is the tallest and has had the fewest doctor visits by far. Sort of makes one wonder…

  11. #17

    Every.single.time I make something with no meat (and it could just be pasta and sauce!) my husband gives that wounded puppy look and then proceeds to chop up some sandwich meat to mix into his plate.
    I seriously think if I decided on a meatless month he’d walk the few blocks to his parents’ house for dinner.
    … wait… I’m missing the downside to that! πŸ˜‰

  12. #18

    Okay….so I have been putting off sending you this comment, but I am going to…I have been following your new health path because, well…I am on the same path. It has been almost a year and a half. I am doing great in some areas – weight lifting and cardio are terrific and I have had some good periods with diet, but clearly this is my problem area. I have spent the last year being kind to myself, listening to myself and trying to understand me better. I have been paying attention to what triggers me to go looking for the sugar and heading down that awful dark path to my old eating habits and binges. It sucks, but the good news is, I keep getting back up and dusting myself off determined to become a winner in this health game.

    I am 43 years old and the mother of three small children. They are huge motivators. I don’t want to miss out on any fun adventures with them. I am 5’3 and weigh 138 pounds. (I used to weigh 162!) I look good, but I would like to drop around ten more pounds and keep building muscle. I am not trying to “get back” to anything weight-wise. I want to find my new body at this stage of my life because I feel like I have a lot of good health left in me! I have been working out with a PT who is awesome. She keeps me focused and holds me accountable.

    I love(d) sugar and I have an addictive personality. I am determined to stop being controlled by sugar. My journey is not about losing weight. It is about becoming healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. This means consistent exercise (cardio + strength training and healthy eating. But how do you “eat healthy” for the rest of your life? I need some framework which I have finally found it and want to share it with you. It is called β€œeating clean.” It means eating real foods (i.e. unprocessed), eating 5-6 small meals a day to keep your metabolism revving and exercising (cardio + strength training). I have been eating purely clean for a week and I CANNOT BELIEVE the change in my body! I know I have found the program that will work for me for the rest for my life. There is no calorie counting or point figuring. I am never hungry! My aha moment came when I read this – good health is 80% diet, 10% genetics and 10% training. I knew I was never going to reach my goals unless I changed my eating for good. Check out the book “The Eat Clean Diet” by Tosca Reno. She went from a frumpy fat 40-year old to a now 50-something hottie. This is not a diet she made up. It is borrowed from the body building and fitness industry. It works. For life!

    I have committed to clean eating through the Lenten season. I will check back in about four weeks and let you know where I came out. This sounds corny- but I feel like I am opening a present each day as I head toward a new, healthy me!

  13. #20

    LOL! See, I definitely dont have to deal with that. I mean, Dan knows that Burger King is not too far off if he is feeling the need. I think hes getting his meat fix at lunch time.

  14. #21

    I don’t even like blueberries but that looks delicious! lol
    I bought a book called “Veganist” by Kathy Freston. I’m willing to give it a read and see what the benefits are. πŸ™‚

  15. #22

    Okay, Donna. I guess i should dust off the Tosca Reno book I bought last year, and never read, huh? I really am wanting to eat as little processed food as possible right now. Ive been making my meals from scratch, and I pretty much never rely on stuff that is frozen (save for fresh frozen veggies).

    Im going to read the book starting tonight, and pull a recipe or two out for the next week ahead!

    Loved hearing this. Thanks for sharing the comment!

  16. #23

    I joined WW with you last year and got to my goal weight in June – but in May I started eating at least 75% vegan meals. I love beans and rice, tofu and all the grains. After I made that change I quit counting points and lost another 20 lbs. I love the food and love that I don’t have to worry about what I am eating, as long as most of it isn’t meat or junk.

  17. #24

    I’m not a vegetarian (and I don’t even play one on tv ;-), but I always find this cookbook

    to be a great resource. It’s not a pretty book, but it’s also available used from Amazon very inexpensively. Never cooked anything out of it that my carnivorous family didn’t eat up! (Although my husband’s standard reply is that it would “be great with chicken”….)

  18. #25

    I cook meatless at least three times/week and have for a long time. My family, for the most part, loves it. There are dishes here and there that either dd or dh aren’t big fans of, but that’s okay, no different really then when I’m cooking with meat.

    Those who think you aren’t getting enough protein really don’t understand.

    I want to get that MB cookbook – I love him!

  19. #28

    That’s hysterical Sounds like my husband.

    He says something similar:

    “This is good, but it would be even better with [INSERT SOME KIND OF MEAT HERE]”…steak, chicken, sausage, bacon, etc. etc. etc.

    The man likes meat.

  20. #29
    Tamie Spears

    If you get some time, check out my blog. It has a ton of recipes – vegan and vegetarian – that have passed the hubby/kid test!

    I went vegan a year ago to see if it would control my high blood pressure without drugs. In the process, I learned A LOT about the meat industry, factory farming, etc. At first, I thought “people should NOT eat meat.” Then I realized that I wasn’t really against people eating meat, I was against the cruelty that takes place on factory farms, which is where almost all grocery store meat comes from.

    My hubby and 3 kids eat meat, but I no longer buy factory farmed meats or eggs. We bought a side of beef from a local farmer, I buy eggs from a guy up the street raising hens, and I buy sustainably-raised chicken at Trader Joe’s. Check out Organic Prairie’s website — they are a group of small farmers raising animals in sustainable and happy ways.

    We do 1 beef, 1 chicken and 1 seafood dinner each week. All the rest are vegetarian or vegan. I haven’t had any complaints.

    I gave the vegan diet 1 year, and it brought my BP almost back to normal (I’m still working on it). I’m now about 90% vegan. I occasionally eat fish/eggs/meat because I know where they came from.

    Good luck and enjoy your journey! πŸ™‚

  21. #32
    jessica o'brien | jessohbee

    my husband and i are both vegetarians. he comes from an italian family and my parents own steakhouses, so we definitely came up some skepticism and criticism early on. most of it, esp. the protein comments are bullshit. excuse my language, but it’s true. most omnivores don’t eat properly but nobody questions them! and i’ve found that when people ask about protein intake, if you say, “oh, how many grams am i supposed to get a day?” they have no clue.

    i really love the “real food daily” cookbook. it’s vegan, but works for vegetarians. [ some of the recipes are labor intensive in the sense that they make all their sauces, dressings, marinades from scratch, but if you use pre-made on some and are flexible with the recipe, they are great “starting point” recipes!

    first month is the hardest to go vegetarian so stick with it! glad you seem to be enjoying it.

    oh and the pans – they never cease! our dish drying rack is overflowing after every meal, even the 1 pot, simple ones! πŸ˜‰

  22. #33

    We eat many meatless meals around here, though not intentionally. I usually just forget to take the chicken out of the freezer before heading off to work.

    Are you incorporating your meatless meals into your WW plan? As in, are you still counting points?

  23. #34

    BTW, my comment was not about discouraging vegetarianism. I am a HUGE believer in finding good health by what works for you. Everyone is different. But keep trying. I know you will find your path:)

  24. #36

    Can’t wait to hear more about your March journey, even though you’re almost half through. I’ve been considering a week-at-a-time of a various diets such as vegetarian, vegan, bread-free, etc. Not ready yet but mulling it over in my head.

  25. #37

    Congrats on your healthy lifestyle, Cathy! I do have to just say, as one who has eaten more fruits and veggies and generally, unprocessed, food in the last year than probably my entire previous 39 years, and who has adopted the exercise habit:
    Be careful of replacing meat with carbs. Much of my previous overeating was due to the sugar/carb cravings. For me, personally, meat didn’t put on 35 pounds, but sugar did. I have a friend who went vegetarian and gained 10 pounds in one month b/c she replaced some of the meat with carbs and got “back on carb addict cycle”, as she said.
    On a positvie note, I have become a bean expert and I love bean main courses- great balance of protein, fiber, and very satisfying. Sometimes I just want tuna, or an egg, or turkey meat, though. : )(And about once a month I crave red meat like nothing else will satisfy, so I enjoy a lean cut of red meat during those times, to prevent noshing on other things that won’t satisfy the craving, anyway.)
    I enjoy your blog – the weight loss journey, the scrapbooking, photography – all of it! Thank you!

  26. #39

    Cathy, you might want to check out the “Moosewood” cookbooks,,,excellent in every way!! I am happy to say that after years of trying I finally have a hubby who prefers veggie burgers to meat burgers!

  27. #40
    Leah Larson

    Way to go Cathy. If you become Amish does that mean you won’t blog anymore? Since the new year we have become what “they” call weekday vegetarians. We don’t necessarily stick to the weekdays. Most weeks I just try for 5 days out of the week. It hasn’t been that hard. We are not too strict about it. If someone has us over for dinner we don’t say “Oh I am sorry I don’t eat meat today.” For us it is also a way to eat healthier.

  28. #42

    Congratulations on your success so far, Cathy. I’ve been meatless for 21 years and counting. I don’t miss it at all. As a matter of fact, it’s a little like smoking in that once you get away from meat, you really don’t ever want to go back to eating it.

  29. #43

    We enjoy Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook. Lots of vegetarian options there too.
    Funny you mention husbands and Amish. When I brought home delicious duck eggs from the farmers’ market, my husband refused to try them and insisted that “no matter how far you go down this whole foods road, I will still shop at the grocery store for my food. I am not Amish!” All in good fun… except for the duck egg and the incident where he spit bulgar back into his plate, he’s becoming more and more “Amish” with every meal.

  30. #44

    Some great comments here today! I’ve been rethinking the way we eat here. I’m glad your husband is trying. What about Cole? Does he try any first before he goes for the PBJ(just curious). I try to make my daughter(8) at least try a bite when it’s new(doesn’t always work). lol I could never give up my rib eyes or the awesome beef brisket my hubby cooks, although not often at the price they are. I’ve really been wanting more salads. I’ve seen some other meatless recipes I would like to try. Can’t afford any new cookbooks so I looks at what others are posting. I hope I get around to it soon. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  31. #46
    Kendra B

    Its a good book. I’d be curious to see how it compares to the veganist . . . which I bought over the weekend.

    I think I could easily be a vegan if it wasn’t for my love of cheese LOL

  32. #47
    Mary Kay Seckinger

    I’ve been vegetarian for over twenty years. The Deborah Madison book is one of my mainstays, though I find it’s not always practical for family dinner on a weeknight. I have spent three or four hours making meals from that book.

    My favorite is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Bishop. He has small kids, and works from home– everything in the book is something he can start at 5 pm and serve by 6:30. He relies a lot on CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) produce and eggs… If there are any in your area, you should check them out. It’s like having a share of a farm’s yield– you pay up front, then your share is delivered to a site near you for pickup weekly. The food is delicious, fresh, and often more adventurous than you’d find in the supermarket.

    One more practical cookbook to recommend: Vegetarian & More, by Linda Rosenweig, gives options for adding meat and making most dishes “dual purpose.”

  33. #50

    I want reviews on the last 2 books. Those look great. We eat mostly meatless but I wouldn’t say 100%. I could do it (and usually do) but I also usually eat a ton of pasta. I would love to know how to cook everything vegetarian and also how to use my slow cooker vegetarian.

    I am trying to follow your MMEL philosophy for my year. I was so impressed by your scrapbooking your weight loss/healthy gain journey last year. Nice job.

    I guess I will be requesting those books from my local library to see if I want them for my home library. πŸ™‚

  34. #51
    Courtney Walsh

    I’m really anxious to see how this works for your body too, Cathy. I’ve thought about eating this way and just never made the decision to go for it! You’re so darn inspiring. πŸ™‚

  35. #52
    Vonda Orders

    Love the meatless March idea. I’m finally on a workout plan myself and just finished an 8K this past weekend. Maybe a meatless month will be next. lol

  36. #53

    Thanks for posting about those cookbooks. Please let us know if one stands out as especially good (or two!) I have been wanting to integrate more meatless cooking into our menu. We live in China and if I can eliminate meat that is one less thing I have to worry about poisoning or harming my family! Not to mention years ago I traveled with some parasite experts from Chile and they would not eat meat because they said if you saw what was in animals, you wouldn’t eat them either! : ) Good luck with your new menus…

  37. #54

    can’t say enough good things about Bittman’s cookbooks and his columns about food in the NYT! Go Cathy!

  38. #56

    Keep it up – you are doing GREAT! I was vegetarian for many years and felt my best then. (married a Marine and it just didn’t fly with him!) LOL We still do a lot of meatless dishes and he is a salad freak so it’s not too bad. The slow cooker cookbook is WONDERFUL!! I think that eating healthy is half the battle with weight – especially as we get older. You will perservere and continue on your journey!!

  39. #57

    I’m just catching up with your blog (hence a belated comment on this “old” post!) but just wanted to add a word of solidarity! I decided to give up meat for Lent–without giving it much thought, other than just a fairly sudden sense of “I think this is what I should do.” Keeping open the possibility of it being a Life Choice and not just a Lent sacrifice… it has been simpler and better-feeling than I anticipated. (So far!) Only regretting that we will be moving away from Southern California before Easter… so no more In ‘n’ Out Burgers for me! Bummer! Anyway–thanks for the cookbook recommendations. On to my Amazon wish list! πŸ™‚

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