Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Vegetarian Dating

Every day you learn something new. The other day, for example, we were handed a flyer in the street, inviting us to join a vegetarian dating service.

A quick checkup when we got home (we were curious) revealed that the board is a project of Anonymous, one of Israel's oldest and most active organizations for animal rights. On their website, they are operating a vegetarian dating board, to which people post about their interests. Is this a unique venture? Apparently, there are others, like the American Veggie Date, which allows vegetarian applicants to specify whether their vegetarianism is related to religious or ideological concerns, and of which flavor.

Of course, what I asked myself was why. I mean, is vegetarianism such a fundamental trait that folks would apply to a specified board, because they wouldn't even consider dating meat eaters?

I suppose everyone's answer to that is different. Mine is, yes and no. There are some personal habits that I more easily identify as deal breakers. Smoking is one of those; nearly any dating board you see has a smoking/nonsmoking information. It's quite difficult for smokers and nonsmokers to live together. One could also think of more than one milieu where people of different political opinions would find it difficult to share a household.

But what about nutrition? I've seen Israeli families successfully negotiating the issue of keeping Kosher in the house. Usually, the solution is that the secular person gives in, since the religious person can't. It seems that vegetarians and carnivores can coexist even more easily, particularly if no separate dishes are required for meat. Even if the vegetarian party dislikes having anything to do with meat - including cooking it - the carnivore can chip in (actually, this could happen even with squeamish, not necessarily vegetarian, spouses).

The substantial problem arises when vegetarianism comes from a strong ideology, where the person can't live with someone who eats meat because that's taken to signify that the prospective partner is a cruel, insensitive person. I imagine in this case, vegetarianism in itself is not the issue, but it is rather an index of a whole other set of values.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sandwich Substitutes for the Wheat Intolerant

The schoolyear is here! It begins on Sunday. With all the joy and the preparation comes, for some of us, the concern over what we'll be eating throughout our academic days. Cafeterias abound, but one not always has time to sit through an entire meal, when a hefty tome can be read in one's office while snacking.

The usual answer to this problem is the quintessential sandwich, sold at every cafeteria on campus. But what will those of us with wheat allergies do? I can't possibly have a sandwich every day; crime, in this respect, doesn't pay. Therefore, I have to get creative about my snacking habits.

Here are some ideas for sandwich substitutes I've come up with. Usually, if I stick to them, they keep me happy until the end of the day.

Microwaved Potato

Microwaving a potato takes five to six minutes, and can be done during your morning cup of tea. They are very easy to pack, and can be filled with various sandwichlike stuff, like pesto, cheese, and cooked vegetables from yesterday meal. Pack in foil or in a ziplock bag and enjoy.

Squares of Cheese

Nice hard goat cheese keeps me happy in a way vegetable sticks never can. Simply cut out squares and stick in a bag (better on cold days, of course).

Vegetable Sticks

The trick: pack them in a plastic box with a little bit of water. Keeps them from becoming shrivelled, dry and unappetizing. Want this to be more satisfying and less masochistic? Take with you a small container of tchina or eggplant salad.

Organic Soup Packages

If there's a hot water machine at the office, you can have yourself an instant cup of soup. Somehow, soup feels more filling than tea, perhaps because we tend to categorize it as "food" rather than "drink". Better yet, keep a bag of miso and a block of tofu at the office and get instant miso soup.

After the beginning-of-the-year-stress, we'll be back cooking and writing about it. Good luck with school, and everything else!