Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vegetarian Dilemma

One of my goals this year is to go meatless and mostly eggless on Tuesdays. (You can follow that particular adventure here.)

I know a lot of people are trying to do the same thing for health and/or environmental purposes like folks at Meatless Monday.

But mine is a bit of a spiritual and religious journey.

I'm doing it in memory of my mom who gave up beef a long time ago for religious reason. We're Buddhist, by the way. When I tried the meatless Tuesday, essentially not taking any lives on the day of my birth, back in high school and college, she was supportive of it. Of course, being so young and back in the days when tofu/soy products weren't all that available, I ended up eating mainly cheese and fries on those days so I stopped the practice before I have a heart attack.

Now that I have the motivation and the mean, I'm back on the weekly meatless wagon.

So, knowing that Fresh & Easy has a good selection of what I called "non-meat meat", I headed to the store to plan out my first Veggie/Meatless Tuesday.

First of, there are a whole bunch of soy "meat" variety and tofu to choose from. A lot of the marinaded "meat" you can just heat up and eat. Super easy. Actually, I tried one of the "chicken" things once and didn't have a good experience. So, I grabbed something a little more familiar, Wildwood Organics teriyaki sproutofu, a baked, solid tofu. Thai people use similar items in our Pad Thai and other vegetarian dishes.

Once that was picked up, the menu fell into place. Sproutofu dipped in the yummy F&E Thai Peanut Sauce (got a Heavenly review from this Thai) with a side of F&E heat-and-eat jasmine rice (perfect lunch portion for me) and organic vine-ripened tomatoes I got from farmer's market.

That sounded like a lot of work for lunch. So, I thought I'd take a look in the grab-and-go section to see what's what.

It was more of what's not.

To my surprise, 3 items in the grab-and-go section were vegetarian: the samosas, breakfast burritos, and the egg rolls. Absolutely nothing in the family size was vegetarian.

(Note: I'm sure there is some vegetarian soups on the shelf but I didn't get a good look at them. I know that I can't finish the tub of soup at work so I skipped them based on practicality.)

That disappointment turned into curiosity. So I went to the front of the store to check the pre-packed salads and sandwiches. Well, there's the pesto and mozzarella salad (which I love), the yogurt stuff, and maybe one other thing. That was it.

Final quick glance at frozen entrees perhaps? Aside from mac and cheese, nada.

Interesting, isn't it? As a meat eater, I never have to think of these things. Now that I'm a part-time vegetarian, I realize there isn't much I could grab right out of F&E to my lunch room that is nutritious and satisfying.

I mean, as a vegetarian, to have a satisfying and nutritious lunch from F&E, I have to assemble my lunch with different components. (And yes, I realize I could've picked up some frozen veggies to go with my lunch as well, but that's just ANOTHER component.)

As a meat eater, I can waltz in there and out the door as soon as I could decide what I want to eat. So. Much. Yumminess!

Now, I'm also going egg-less on these Tuesdays. And that got me thinking of the vegan diet.

If a vegetarian already has problems finding something to eat here, can you imagine a vegan trying to find some lunch at F&E?

I have noticed F&E has been very good with bringing in healthy products for other dietary need. I sent my friend with Celiac over to pick up the AFFORDABLE gluten-free food like the pasta, pretzels and dark chocolate pudding which saves him money and a trip across town to Whole Foods. Another friend who is allergic to dairy also appreciate the soy yogurt, milk, and dessert selection.

Maybe it's time to start treating our vegetarian and vegan friends right as well.

So, let us pray, my fellow F&E Worshipers, for the herbivores--even the part time one like me--that we would someday have the convenient, delicious and nutritious lunch like our omnivore brothers and sisters currently enjoy.

In Chef Mike we trust. Amen.

ETA - 01/20/10: Forgive me for I have sinned. I had Trader Joe's frozen Paneer Masala with spinach basmati rice last night. And it was delicious. 2 more of the frozen vegetarian entrees (one Indian, one Thai) await more taste tests.


Anonymous said...

I've been a F&E shopper since the first day the store in my area opened up...LOVE the food, but not much for the vegetarian let alone the poor ol' vegan...however, F&E is known for wanting feedback from its customers and generally reallly really I'm thinking if enough 'Vs' let their voices be heard, F&E WILL listen.

Anonymous said...

You should try the cheese tortellini steamer. It's delicious and vegetarian. Or try penne with creamy tomato, my favs.

Babble said...

It's *possible* to shop vegan at F&E (I do), but you're right about dearth of pre-packaged "all in one" options. But that's not really F&E specific. It's true just about everywhere.

OakMonster said...

Anonymous #2: Penne with creamy tomato is also my favorite! :)

Babble: you're absolutely right on both account, that one can definitely shop vegan there and that omnivore pre-packaged foods are not F&E specific.

But since F&E does listen to their customers, I figure I'd let them know so they can actually do even better! :)

Thanks for stopping by!