Hi, my name is Caitlin, and I’m a vegetarian.
Over the past four years, I have had to “come out” to select friends and family. The term “vegetarian” carries a stigma that I don’t love, so for a while, I would just say, “I don’t eat meat or fish,” or “I follow a plant-based diet.” But let’s be real: When it comes down to it, the label fits.
My life is filled with considerate and accepting people, but still I am often met with surprise and confusion. After all, wasn’t I the kid who loved ribs? The college friend who craved BLTs? The 25-year-old who spent weeks searching for the best burger in New York?
Yes, and that food-loving person still lives in me. I choose not to eat animals — but not because of flavor. Being a veg doesn’t mean I only like to munch on raw greens. Vegetarians love delicious, satisfying and occasionally decadent food, too, guys.
Which brings me to why I’m outing myself in this public forum. It’s for you, dear omnivores.
The holidays are on the horizon. While we are rare birds, Wyoming vegetarians are out there. You may sit next to us at your Thanksgiving feast or spot us in the wild at your aunt’s Christmas party.
Don’t worry: We won’t bite.
If your veg friends or family are like me, they really do not want to lecture you about your diet. If you ask, I’ll give you my reasons for my dietary proclivities and — sure — be happy if you find them motivating. But we’re all adults who have the freedom to dine on whatever we want. Eat and let eat, etcetera.
Also, if your veg friends or family are like me, they get this question again and again: “So…what exactly do you eat?”
At home, my husband, the veg who eventually turned me with his own nonjudgmental but plaintive reasons, is masterful at pairing herbs and spices to make deeply satisfying dishes from colorful vegetables, nutty whole grains and tasty legumes. Extra virgin olive oil is used with a liberal hand. When in doubt, we put an egg (that has been carefully sourced from a good farm) on it.
We rarely eat salads or pasta, the two dishes that many assume we survive on.
So, to give you a glimpse of what vegetarians eat, here are a few festive dishes we are planning to create for our holiday gatherings:
Farro with fire-roasted tomatoes; mushroom-stout (beer!) potpies with sweet-potato crusts; grilled red peppers with quinoa-kale stuffing; butternut squash risotto with balsamic reduction; caramelized onion tarts; and the list goes on and on.
So, whether you find yourself searching for veg-friendly dishes for your next dinner party or just want to mix up your menu with creative plant-based dishes this year, think beyond salads.