I am a massive carnivore.  I love meat and cannot function without it.  I’ve tried being a vegetarian in the past and find that when I eat a meal without an animal protein, it physically feels like something’s missing.  I’m hungry again in 10 minutes, don’t have consistent energy, and my athletic performance suffers.  

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my need for meat.  Nerd alert.  That was a really weird sentence to type, but it’s true.  I’m a huge environmentalist at heart (wow, did I ever get hammered by some of you for talking about an aerosol product in my last post.  I’m not even going to try and justify it.) and realize the negative impact that meat has on resources and the environment.  It’s animal cruelty.  I’ve read horror stories of meat processing plants.  Even after reading “Fast Food Nation” (great read) with the claim that there is poo in our meat I still bellied up to a tasty burger that afternoon.  Not sure if it had doodey in it, but holy crap it was good. 

I’m guessing at this point those of you who are vegetarians or vegans may be thinking that I’m not doing it right – not eating the right meat substitutions.  I’m very conscious of combining incomplete proteins to form complete proteins in my body.  I’ve wondered if it was my mid-western upbringing, where meals are centered around a meat, a “starch”, and a vegetable (Stove Top Stuffing, anyone?).  Or is it a story that I tell myself?  That I can’t function without meat?  As a nutritionist, I’m also very aware of the pros and cons of eating various forms of animal proteins.  See what I mean?  There’s a pretty big disconnect between my brain and my belly.

With this being said, I’ve decided to try a new approach.  The goal is to substitute one meat meal per week with a vegetarian option, and it started this last week.  I found a recipe for black bean burgers that looked really good.  It just so happened that a friend was over the afternoon we were making these and I asked her if she wanted to stay for dinner, prefacing it by saying we had never made this recipe before.  

Yikes.  Get a load of what turned out:

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This looks like something you would find in a pasture.

That has been baked by the sun.  

But only for a short while, as it’s still moist inside.  

I really dislike the word “moist”.

Good thing my friend thought this was hilarious.  Even though we had put lots of spices and fresh herbs in the mix, it was incredibly bland.  REALLY bland.  Loads of wasabi mayo later, it was edible.  My conclusion was that beans belong in a burrito or on nachos, not schlocked on a bun pretending to be meat.  

I realize I need to reframe this experiment:  It’s not meat.  It won’t taste like meat.  OBVIOUSLY, it won’t look like meat.  So stop expecting it to be like meat. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.  A delicious, tasty pig.  I’M KIDDING!

So I’m asking you for help – send me some good meatless recipes!  

Do you have a favorite?  Want to use me as a guinea pig (what is my deal with animals?!) for a recipe you haven’t tried yet?  Send it my way and I’ll give it a shot.