Zen & Diet

My modern approach to Zen living has influenced the way I eat. I didn’t think a modern Zen thinker would have to switch to veganism, at first, so I continued to eat basically the way I did before I started concentrating on Zen philosophy.

Now, though I don’t stick to a strict vegan diet by any means, I do not consume animal products besides milk and eggs and other dairy products. I’d like to switch back to a full vegan diet at some point, but for now, ovo-lacto vegetarianism is enough for me.

So how do I do it? How do I get all the nutrition I need and still live without most animal products? Thanks to modern cooking techniques and ingredients, it is a bit more expensive but totally doable, and I’ve never suffered any kind of nutritional deficiency because of it.

One great product I’ve discovered is this meatless mincemeat.  Many other brands exist – the one in the link happens to be my personal favorite. What do I do with mincemeat? A nice vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie, replacing meat with the meatless item linked above, is hearty, filling, and reminds me of the meat dishes I loved as a child.

The great thing about this dish is you can put just about any ingredient you want in and it still counts as Shepherd’s Pie. Personally, I like heavily-salted jacket potatoes mashed up with garlic, a few stewed tomatoes, a little pre-fabricated pie crust (my Zen life is much easier to live if I don’t have to worry about making a crust) and plenty of spices. I like my food really spicy – jalapenos and habaneros turn this everyday meal into a spicy adventure that really gets a good sweat going.

A wonderful vegetarian starter dish that my friends and family go nuts for (even the meat-lovers) is a simple quiche of feta, asparagus, and spinach. I stole the idea from this recipe and it is one of the easiest appetizers I’ve ever made. As a Zen thinker, I appreciate the simplicity of the recipe and it’s rather Zen appearance, but maybe I’m the only one who sees that. No matter – it is a crowd-pleaser.

I’d like to conclude with a dessert, but for those vegetarians and vegans out there who eschew all animal products, dessert can be a bit of a chore. With my Zen hat in the “on” position, I realize there’s nothing better for a meal-ender than fresh fruit, with maybe a dusting of powdered sugar if you must add sweetener. I like berries, whatever’s fresh, and (if you are an ovo-lacto like me) a bed of vanilla bean ice cream. You really can’t go wrong with a simple dessert like this. After all, isn’t that what modern Zen is all about?