The average age of a meat-eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still at work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beef-steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism. – George Bernard Shaw

World Vegetarian Day, observed annually on October 1st, was established by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism. Initiating the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, World Vegetarian Day also brings awareness to the ethical, environmental, health and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

Each year—for a variety of reasons—about a million people in the United States choose to become vegetarians and adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Common motivations include ethical, health, religious, and/or environmental concerns.

I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life. Although it’s the diet I prefer and think best for me, I know a vegetarian lifestyle may not necessarily be the best for everyone. As I mentioned in a previous post, A Plant-Based Diet, the key to a healthy diet is not only what you eliminate in your diet, but also what you decide to add. Whether you’re an omnivore, pescatarian or vegetarian, adding more whole and plant-based foods is what is most import for optimal health. The evidence is clear, eliminating or reducing ones intake of meat can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments; it also mitigates the environmental pollution of animal agriculture.

So whether you’re a vegetarian or not, I invite you to celebrate World Vegetarian Day and Vegetarian Awareness Month by eschewing (or reducing your intake of) meat and finding new ways to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Join others today in honor of World Vegetarian Day and let me know your thoughts on the key to living a healthy lifestyle.

For lunch today, my little one and I enjoyed this simple, yet hearty vegetarian dish. I made it with some summer produce I was happy to still find at the farmers market over the weekend. However, I can imagine an equally delicious fall/winter version made with squash (delicata or kabocha, for example) and pears or apples. I would love to know if you come up with any interesting adaptations!

Soba Noodles with Tofu, Aubergine and Peaches
Recipe inspired by a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Serves about 2-4

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package extra-firm tofu (about 14-ounces), cubed
olive oil
1 medium aubergine (eggplant), peeled and cubed
4 to 5 ounces of soba noodles
1 tomato, diced
1 peach, sliced
1 cup fresh parsley (or other herb like cilantro or basil), chopped coarsely
1/2 teaspoon red chile, finely chopped (optional)
avocado(s), sliced or cubed
sesame seeds

In a shallow pan combine vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame oil for a marinade. Allow tofu to sit and drain on paper towels. Cut tofu in cubes and add to vinegar mixture and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the eggplant until golden brown. Salt well and set aside.

Remove tofu from marinade and reserve the marinade liquid for later use. Using the same skillet used for the eggplant, sauté tofu until golden brown and set aside.

Add noodles to a pot of boiling water and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain again.

In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles with reserved liquid marinade. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and sesame oil if necessary. Add tofu, eggplant, tomatoes, peach and parsley and toss gently. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with avocado for a nutrient boost.

Martine’s notes: For an interesting flavor addition, the zest and juice of one lime is also delicious.

In Ottolenghi’s recipe he does not add tofu, but suggests to add it if you want to turn this dish into a light main course. A similar sauce is used to flavor the noodles, I decided to use my sauce to also marinate the tofu, then added the excess to the noodles.

He does not peel his eggplant, but I do here as I knew it would be easier for my toddler to eat.

Finally, instead of a peach, Ottolenghi uses a mango. There are a few other differences, but those are the main ones.

5 thoughts on “It’s World Vegetarian Day!

  1. What a lovely recipe. I will try this one tomorrow when my day ends. The only thought I have is the vegetarian community, considering all the information we have, still considers Tofu as an option. What say you?

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment David. I would love to know your thoughts on the recipe and any adaptations you might make to suit your needs/tastes. Regarding the vegetarian community and tofu, are you referring to the phytoestrogens found in tofu? Please clarify your concern and I’ll try respond accordingly. Thanks again!

  2. What a beautiful plate of colors inspired by a wonderful cookbook. The recipe might be nice with a bit of avocado, too! I think many of your readers would be interested to read about your journey towards vegetarianism as well as the evolution of your diet in your adult life – and different facets of a child’s vegetarian diet and nutritional health. Another beautiful post, Martine’

    1. Hi Shanna, thank you! Yes, I did add avocado–a great way to add texture and flavor, as well a wonderful nutritional boost! Thanks for the suggestions regarding posts about the vegetarian lifestyle I’ve come to adopt for myself as well as for my family. I’ll try to write more about it in the future! Thanks again!

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