This is the tale of a failed teenage vegetarian. When I was sixteen, I went on a trip to Tijuana, Mexico to help build a preschool and came back with an overwhelming need to help save the world in any way possible. And because I was sixteen and living in Oregon and just plain silly, that save-the-world-need resulted in 2.5 months as a straight-up hippie. I cut off all my hair because, well, who really needs hair (answer: those who don’t want to look like a boy). I bought all sorts of nasty two-dollar t-shirts from the local Value Village. My enthusiasm for recycling was unparalleled. And, the kicker, I became a vegetarian for many reasons but mainly I thought it was kinder on the Earth than meat-eating, which would hopefully, in turn, be kinder on Tijuana.
Flash forward two-years to my freshman year of college and thankfully I don’t have a pixie cut anymore but I’m still a vegetarian. This would have been fine – just like it was in high school – if my non-veggie friendly dorm food hadn’t led me to gain a freshman (gulp) thirty. Turns out eating processed cheese pizza everyday with multiple cookies doesn’t do wonders for your figure. When my all-too honest big sister told me I’d gained some serious pounds, I re-evaluated my eating habits and although not eating meat was important to me, I decided that it just wasn’t possible to be both healthy and a vegetarian when you’re only option is the dining hall. Thus, I began eating chicken again.
These days, I flirt with both vegetarianism and even veganism on a weekly basis but my only eating rule is that I have no rules. Luckily, I have developed a penchant for eating clean, healthy foods but some days, that’s tofu and some days, that’s steak. One lesson I learned from my vegetarian days is that a veggie burger doesn’t have to be the cardboard-esque ones you find in the grocery store or in a non-savvy restaurant but instead, something homemade that’s delicious to both meat-eaters and veggie-eaters. I actually prefer mine crumbled over salad but you can only go for a traditional bun as well. Here are three recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers that are favorites:
1.) “Our Perfect Veggie Burger” by Oh She Glows: It’s full or bread crumbs, black beans, and randomly but awesomely: sunflower seeds. One bonus to this recipe is that it doesn’t require a food processor, which cuts out dish washing time.
2.) “Baked Quinoa Patties” by 101 Cookbooks: You’ll get protein from the quinoa grain as well as a burst of veggie with the kale. Heidi Swanson only lets me down when I’m trying to eat super healthy but inside my heart is screaming, “Just give me ice cream and pizza already!” Those days happen and those days are not for Heidi.
3.) “Plant Burgers” by Eat Live Run: Beets are something I still reject in whole form but when they are a.) juiced or b.) post-food processor, then I love them. It cannot be understood.