World Vegetarian Day – because Gandhi was right

October 2, 2009 at 4:16 am Leave a comment

This article appeared in today’s issue of
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”--Mahatma Gandhi

Today is World Vegetarian Day. A day for us to celebrate the delicious bounty of the plant kingdom. It also happens to be the day before the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It’s no coincidence that World Vegetarian Day falls close to the birthday of this saintly man, a true symbol of nonviolent resistance. It’s slightly politically incorrect to focus on the topic of nonviolence, especially as it relates to animals. But in honor of Gandhi’s birthday, I am feeling a bit bold.

Generally when discussing the benefits of vegan cuisine, I tend to focus on the health issues. For good reason! This is why most people are inspired to eat more vegan foods. Losing weight, and protection against diseases like heart disease and diabetes definitely top the list of reasons people decide to go meatless.  It’s become common knowledge that our health is a lot better off with the inclusion of these life giving foods and all major health organizations now recommend including more fruits and vegetables to preserve health and prevent disease.

After health reasons, protecting the environment is another main reason people choose to go vegan. It’s cool to be green these days and eating your veggies is about as green as it gets. The environmental impact of a meat-centered diet compared to a plant based one is staggering. For instance, it takes roughly 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, and approximately 30 gallons for a pound of potatoes. As far as carbon emissions, a 2006 UN Report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” reports that over 18 percent of all green house gases come from the livestock industry!

Dr. R. K. Pachauri, head of the Nobel prize winning intergovernmental panel on climate change actually went so far as to recommend going meatless once a week as the most effective and immediate way we can reduce our carbon footprint.
So where does nonviolence fit into this? It seems to me that it is a noble endeavor to strive to reduce the violence and suffering we see in the world. Who wants to send their children to school where violence is a daily occurrence? How many people are planning their vacation in Afghanistan or Baghdad? Who among us does not feel shocked frequently when we read the newspaper or watch the news?
We have all heard the expression “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” This raises the question “Who is our neighbor?”. To whom should we extend this love? I turn to Albert Einstein for the answer. He said “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” This to me is the correct response. All of life is our neighbor.
For many of us, peace begins in the kitchen. This means when two choices are before us, in life and regarding our food choices, we take the path that causes the least suffering. It’s something to think about.

Here is a recipe to enjoy while contemplating these vegetarian issues. It’s from our new book, The 30-Minute Vegan.

Zucchini Roll Ups
Makes approximately 18 roll ups2 zucchinis
1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled
2 tablespoons minced basil
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
3 tablespoons creamy tahini

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and well-oil a baking sheet. Slice each
zucchini lengthwise into 9 or more thin strips (about 1/8-inch) using
either a mandoline (careful for those fingers) or a vegetable peeler.
2. Combine the tofu, and the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl
and mix well. If the tahini is not creamy, you may need to add a bit of
olive oil to maintain a creamy consistency. Spread approximately 2
tablespoons of this mixture along each piece of zucchini and roll them up.
3. Place the rolls on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, and remove.
Serve on a platter or 2 to3 rolls per plate. Refrigerate if you are not
serving immediately. The rolls are awesome chilled as well.

•    Replace zucchini with eggplant, thinly sliced.

Mark Reinfeld has been preparing inspired vegan and live food cuisine for over 15 years. He is the founding chef of The Blossoming Lotus Restaurant and the recipient of a Platinum Carrot Award given to America’s top “trailblazing and innovative chefs.” He is a recognized authority in the field of healthy cuisine. His first book, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine has won 9 international awards including a Gourmand Award for ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA.’ He is the coauthor, along with Jennifer Murray of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw. His latest book, also coauthored with Murray is The 30 Minute Vegan. Have a question for the natural chef? Please email

Entry filed under: Question Mark - Ask the Natural Chef, Recipes, The 30-Minute Vegan, Uncategorized.

Miss Eco Glam Reviews The 30-Minute Vegan Vegan MoFo, Day 4 – Book Review: The 30-Minute Vegan

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