Wednesday, November 2, 2011

vegie wednesday: a book and a burger

Here we go, my first Vegie Wednesday post! I meant to start last week but…didn't.

Life's like that, isn't it? All unpredictable and pebbly sometimes?
But you keep on. At least, you try.

So yesterday marked day one of moving on. And today? Well, it's day one again, like tomorrow will be. Fresh and unbroken—a field of unmarked snow. Perfect for making new prints, unlike any I've made before.

Anyway, on to Vegie Wednesday! Here goes nothing, as they say…!

So I read this book the other day.

Now, there are books you read and think, "That was awesome! I couldn't put it down!" Then there are ones you think, "Yeah, it was okay, but I didn't like the part where the guy did that thing and it didn't seem that believable and I thought the language was kind of trite so anyway, meh."

And some books? Well, they change your life.

They are written in a way that completely resonates with you, all the way through. It's like the author is sitting there and simply talking. Quietly, he or she reaches in and rearranges you—the way you see things, the way you live your life, the way you want to live your life from this point on.

This book was like that.

This is the first, and probably only non-fiction book for author Jonathan Safran Foer (who wrote a book I loved, called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). He wrote it because, as a dabbler in vegetarianism  and as a new father, he wanted to know about the food he gave his son. He wanted to know, specifically, about his meat.

He researched this book painstakingly for three years. He interviewed cattle ranchers, turkey and pig farmers, activists, members of PETA and even a vegetarian who is building a turkey slaughterhouse. He read exhaustively on the subject of animal farming—hundreds of articles, reports and books. He visited industrial farms, family operated farms, and animal sanctuaries. He went deep inside the subject and came out altered.

His book is not, in fact, one huge argument against eating animals. He actually becomes friends with a number of ranchers and farmers. He never says, "Meat is murder!" but he does say this:

The way most animals are farmed today is cruel and destructive. To the environment, to communities, to people and, especially, to the animals themselves.

Foer writes that industrial farming, the farming that represents over 90% of our pork and chickens, and over 75% of our beef, didn't exist 100 years ago. Farms have become corporatised, animals have become mere products, and many independent family farms have disappeared.

Foer presents clear evidence that this type of farming harms the environment in countless ways. He shows clear connections between factory farming and public health issues—such as our growing resistance to antibiotics, the spread of food poisoning and outbreaks of disease.

As for the way the animals are treated—at best, they are treated as commodities. At worst, the treatment is inhumane. Most of these animals lack anything resembling a normal life. Their suffering is often extreme. And this, quite simply, is how most factory farmed animals live and die.

Some of Foer's book is incredibly hard reading. It should be. I mean, we all know, in some part of ourselves, that if we had to face the reality of the modern meat industry, we'd find it a terrible thing to watch.

It's hard learning, but Foer never stands up on a soap box and shouts at us to change. He doesn't say, It's all or nothing! Do this! Do that! This way is right! This way is wrong, wrong, wrong!

He just states what he learned. Bluntly sometimes. Conversationally most of the time. Then he states what he and his family chose to do as a result of his learning, what path they chose for themselves personally.

Foer chose to become a vegetarian. My family and I, who were already vegetarian, have chosen to become (for the most part) vegan. But Foer says you can make a difference with other choices—like, by simply eating less meat. You can also make a difference buying your meat from ethical farms, family farms, local farms. You can read the food labels, do research, be informed.

Foer says, "Our day to day choices shape the world." They do, even though we sometimes feel so small and insignificant. I really believe they do.

He also writes this:

"Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use 
and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us."

When I read those words I thought, That, there, is the muscle I choose. The one I most want to strengthen.

Compassion. First, and most.

This book made such a difference to me. And I've read so much about the subject since. I'm still learning, investigating, making up my own mind. Our family is traveling the path that fits us,

there is no single path to walk.

I love that a book changed me. I love that a writer changed my life. That's how it should be. Books should do that to you, don't you think? Otherwise, they are just marks on a page. Otherwise, we are just people holding paper.


Now. Who wants some lentil burgers?

We made them this week. Oh, they were deliciously divine. They were lip-smackingly scrumptious!

They kind of surprised me with their yumminess, as the last two attempts at vegie burgers haven't been so great. The previous ones needed a LOT of sauce :) But these… well, they were moist, didn't fall apart when you looked at them, and were totally tasty. A very welcome addition to our new menu (which we keep adding to, so watch out!).

Here's a link to the recipe and a fancier picture than mine, so you can salivate some more:

I should mention that for our vegie burgers, I forgot to add the bread crumbs (or rice crumbs in our case). I think you don't need them and it might have made them a bit crumbly. Our burgers were really moist and moldable (just how you want your food to be, right? Moldable. Yes.)


Okay. That's it for this week's episode of Vegie Wednesday. I truly hope you enjoyed it. :)

If you want to share any tasty vegie things you've had recently, please do. I would love to think of us cooking together, leaning over the stove, sniffing, tasting, testing. Then sitting down, together, to eat.

Isn't that a beautiful thought?



  1. Have you read Omnivores Dilemma? It changed my life. I am going to see if my Nook has this book.

    Since reading OD, I made some (more) changes to our family. I have cut WAY back on meat consumption and I have committed to pay extra to have our beef grass fed/farm raised/local. Just yesterday I picked up a fresh chicken from our CSA farm. I may not be ready, just yet, to become 100% vegetarian, but I am very committed to changing the way we purchase and consume our food.

    I LOVE this post. Are you going to do a link up (they are very easy to do) and have us share our favorite veggie recipe of the week? I just had roasted butternut squash for the first time and I will never cook it any way other than roasted again.

    I am going to try these burgers for Greg and I this weekend!

  2. I am not a vegetarian, but I am quite passionate about the quality of food I feed my family. I came across an EXCELLENT recipe for Sweet Potato French Fries that are DIVINE.

    See it here -

    I've found that 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch for 2 sweet potatoes is ideal, and I just pour the olive oil right into the bag and shake it around. They are AMAZING, give them a try. Sometimes I sprinkle them with salt, sometimes with sugar/cinnamon.

  3. Kei and I were just talking about you and your vegginess. It is such a crazy thing to say, but I am afraid to read a book like this...afraid that it would get me so mad and upset that I would never have anything to eat again! We try to eat better, I wish we could eat all organic, all free range, all grass fed/farm raised but I just can't afford it now. I am so interested in your journey. Those burgers do look yummy. About to follow the link and read more. Hugs Helena!

  4. We recently made veggie burgers from a can of 'Nut Meat'!!!! Gosh that must sound so ghastly to everyone here (they weren't too bad, but they weren't great). Your recipe sounds sooooo much nicer. I'll be giving it a try soon.

    We aren't giving up meat completely but you have inspired our family to take on 'Meatless Monday'. We don't eat much meat really, our diet consists of loads of fresh fish which my husband catches.

    The modern age has brought us so many advances in so many varying ways, but it seems we could learn a lot from our ancestors when it comes to farming meat.

  5. Just wanted you to know, I bought all the ingredients for the burgers. I am making them for dinner tomorrow!

  6. i loved extremely loud and incredibly close. i'm excited to read this - i'm actually reading Omnivore's Dilemma right now and i think i was irritating my husband last night with my gasps and OMIGOD!s...really illuminating. i feel so lucky to have better choices available to us here in our community.

  7. I tried to attach a picture...but I couldn't. I made the burgers tonight. Yum!!! I am sending the recipe to all my friends. Thank you so much.

  8. Thank you for these comments! I am totally late in responding, and I'm not sure you Jess, Karen, Deb, mr shell or slim will read them, but thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and ideas. How cool that you made those burgers, Jess! I'll have to check out Omnivore's Dilemma, for sure, Slim and Jess. Thanks, Deb for the tasty link. I love the idea of Meatless Monday, mr shell! And Karen, thanks so much for the hugs :)

  9. Omnivore's Dilemna for sure, there is even a young adult version. Thanks for the recipe, I am going to look it over and see about making it. Love the ideas you are exploring.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.