There are just so many ways to look at it—physical, cultural, and spiritual arguments in both the pro and con departments that I find fairly convincing. All I know is that when I eat meat these days—even if it's only a clam—I feel kind of sad afterwards. And since pretty much the only thing that trumps my palate in terms of my own animal satisfactions is my emotions, meat keeps growing less and less appealing to me. Not to mention the fact—so obvious, really, once I started paying attention to it—that a meatless diet, one with many more vegetables and less dairy and super-yummy tamasic indulgences, like sweets and breads and so forth, makes my practice so much more satisfying, light, and floaty (I mean "floaty" in a purely metaphorical way—float I do not, not yet, anyway).
The hardest thing, for me, in my migration away from meat and toward a more vegetarian diet are all the social issues. Traditions. People. Parties. Holidays. Family. And maybe most of all, memories of all those things. There are certain dishes I have a very hard time thinking about giving up because of the whole family-memory mix. Roast chicken is one. Spaghetti and meatballs (my grandmother's recipe) is another. And my husband's oxtail soup. Wow, does my husband make a great oxtail soup. Gorgeous, heady, tangy, rich stuff. Also—I don't know how to say it... Ethereal? Or sexy? Certainly, if food can be sexy, this stuff is sexy. But now his oxtail soup also makes me sad. Bummer.
Sad really cuts back on the enjoyment factor, so, the other day my husband made a vegetarian (actually vegan) version of the same soup. Really, there's only a faint resemblance. I mean, oxtails are oxtails, and beans are beans, and never the twain shall meet. Though this soup/stew is by no means sexy or ethereal, it does have a delicate heady quality, thanks to a very healthy splash of white wine. Here's the recipe (highly fungible... 3 leeks, two carrots, more or less beans—doesn't matter...)
(2, large, chopped in 1/2 inch lengths, just the white & whitish-green parts)
about 1/2 lb dried white BEANS
(we used canellini, dried & soaked overnight)
JALAPENO PEPPER (1)
(1 can, peeled, whole)
(a lot—a cup at least)
(Delicata, 1 small)
THYME (BAY would be good, too)
PARSLEY (for garnish)